Fear Factory’s Latest LP Is A Mostly Successful New Offering

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

Fear Factory has been in the news quite a bit this year.  Early last month, it was announced that founding member and guitarist Dino Cazares had joined Soulfly for its latest tour in place of Marc Rizzo.  That announcement was followed up with the release of the new companion piece to the band’s latest album, Aggression Continuum.  The companion piece in question is the isolated instrumental tracks from that album. Why the band would go that route is a headscratcher when audiences can hear the instrumentals just as clearly in the original album.  Speaking of the album, the 10-song record was released June 18 through Nuclear Blast Records.  The 48-minute collection is an interesting addition to the band’s extensive catalog.  That is due in large part to the album’s featured lyrical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The musical arrangements that feature alongside the album’s lyrical content make for more interest and will be discussed a little later.  The production that went into this record rounds out its most important elements.  When it is considered along with the album’s content, the collective items make the album maybe not the band’s best work, but still worth hearing at least once.

Fear Factory’s most recent album, Aggression Continuum, is a mostly successful offering from the band.  Not knowing whether the band will continue now that former front man Burton C. Bell (whose vocals are featured in the record) and founding member Dino Cazares was recently announced as part of Soulfly’s current lineup, it is a positive potential final offering from the band.  The album’s success comes in this record, primarily through its lyrical themes.  The lyrical content in this case is actually quite different from that featured in the band’s existing catalog.  While so much of the band’s catalog focuses largely on the issue of technology taking over the planet, this album seems less focused on that matter.  Right from the album’s opener, ‘Recode,’ the album seems more focused on general defiance and belief in self than on technology’s role in mankind’s fate.  Bell – again he recently parted ways with the band – goes so far as to sing in the song’s chorus, “Why deny life you dream about/Why deny your dream?”  Considering comments that Bell shared in recent interviews about his time with Fear Factory, audiences are left to wonder if these statements are somewhat autobiographical.  The mention of a generation being “left behind” and the encouragement to “open your eyes” serves even more, to bring about that sense of defiance.  It is a statement about taking control of one’s life.  That overarching theme continues through the album’s first few tracks just as clearly, too. 

On a separate note, ‘Manufactured Hope’ takes the band in another direction, though one that is still familiar within the hard rock and metal community.  In this case, Bell seems to take on the issue of religious hypocrisy.  This is inferred he Bell directly sings in the song’s chorus, “I am hypocrisy of faith/I will not believe/My mind will never be enslaved/I will not believe.”  His call of “ignore the facts in front of you/Deny the logic and the truth/Conform to mediocrity/You know it’s manufactured hope” in the song’s second verse serves just as much to infer the noted message.  He goes on to go so far as to note, “Faith is a weapon and a tool/Creating manufactured hope” makes the noted message seem even more the case.  Again, this is slightly new territory for Fear Factory, but not for the hard rock and metal communities.  That Bell and company would again, show that willingness to try something new at least for itself as a group, is welcome even in its larger familiarity.

‘End of Line’ meanwhile takes the band back to more familiar ground while also taking it in a slightly different direction again.  In this case, the song comes across lyrically as a sociopolitical statement about the state of the world today.  This is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus as Bell sings, “Avoid the bloody streets/We’re living in domestic war/Gunmen in uniform/Murdering innocents at your door/This can’t be real/Assault on my senses/Depriving me of sanity/Fractured/Damned images/Praying for the final reckoning/End of life/End of time/End of line.”  The seeming message continues in the song’s second verse in which Bell sings, “Beaten to crush my soul/To silence me in shackled chains/Your lies like gasoline/Living every day in tragedy.”  All of this comes across as a commentary of sorts on police brutality.  That is just this critic’s interpretation.  It is inferred through the mention of armed gunmen at the door.  It conjures thoughts of what law enforcement officers did to Brianna Taylor.  The images being seen are in fact still damning.  It and so much more leaves many praying for the final reckoning.  The matter of being “beaten to crush my soul/To silence me in shackled chains” points even more toward the matter of police brutality, especially considering this year’s headlines.  Again, this is all this critic’s interpretation.  If in fact that is the case, then it is another example of how Fear Factory on this album, really strayed from its own norm and opted instead for something more widely accessible, lyrically speaking.  When it is considered along with the other lyrical themes noted here and the rest of the album’s lyrical themes, the whole makes clear why the album’s lyrical themes are so important to its presentation.  They are just a part of what makes the album interesting.  The musical arrangements that accompany the record’s lyrical themes are more familiar from the band and add to the record’s success.

While the lyrical content featured throughout Fear Factory’s new album finds the band seemingly move into new territory, the record’s musical arrangements keep the band in familiar territory.  From beginning to end, audiences will find that the arrangements pull from various points in the band’s catalog.  Right from the record’s outset, the band take audiences back to the sounds crafted for its 1998 album, Obsolete.  As the album progresses, the arrangements are more akin to works from The Industrialist, Genexus, and Archetype.  Simply put, the arrangements that are featured throughout the album are everything that audiences have come to expect from Fear Factory from one song to the next.  To that end, they will appeal easily to the band’s established audience base, and to more casual fans of the industrial metal realm.  Keeping that appeal in mind along with the interest that the album’s lyrical themes are sure to generate, the collective content goes a long way toward making the album successful.  Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to examine, that last being the record’s production.

The production that went into Aggression Continuum is important to examine because of how much is going on in each song.  The guitars and bass, each of which were recorded by Cazares, are so heavy and rich.  Bell’s vocals are just as powerful here as ever, too, as are the drums, which were handled by current drummer Mike Heller.  Considering the energy in each composition and the richness of each line, it would have been so easy for the songs to get bogged down in themselves, but thankfully that did not happen.  Rather, each line complimented the others.  The result is a record whose presentation succeeds just as much for its aesthetic value as for its content.  To that end, all things considered here make the album overall that much more certain of a success.

Fear Factory’s latest album, Aggression Continuum is a record that is certain to appeal mostly to the band’s established audiences, and just as much to casual industrial metal fans.  That is proven in part through the record’s lyrical themes.  The themes in question find the band seeming to go in a different direction at least for itself, than that for which it has been known.  By contrast, the musical arrangements featured throughout the record are more familiar from one to the next.  That familiarity, paired with the new direction taken in the song’s lyrical content, makes for plenty of interest here.  When the record’s production is taken into consideration, it puts the finishing touch to the presentation, ensuring the noted engagement and entertainment for the mentioned audiences even more.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the album a work that regardless of the band’s fate from here, is mostly a success.

Aggression Continuum is available now. More information on Fear Factory’s new record is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.fearfactory.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/fearfactory

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/fearfactory

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Reckless Kelly’s Latest LP Is A Rich Musical Retrospective Of Sorts

Courtesy: Thirty Tigers

Two decades ago on Sept. 11, 2001, Reckless Kelly was in the studio working on new material when the world stopped and watched a a group of evil, sick, twisted individuals took control of a group of planes and took the lives of almost 3,000 innocent Americans. While the world stopped, the band did what it does best, make music, all while watching in shock and sadness at what was happening at that moment.  The decision to keep recording that music was itself a statement of defiance against those who would try to destroy America, that they and others like them would not win. Now 20 years later, the band marked the anniversary by releasing the music it was recording on that somber day in the form of “The 9/11 Demos.” The band’s new 16-song record was released on Sept. 11.  It is an impressive new offering whose musical arrangements will appeal widely to audiences in themselves.  This aspect will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements are appealing in their own way and will be examined a little later.  The record’s sequencing brings everything together and completes the picture painted through this record.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the album another must have for any Reckless Kelly fan and any casual fan of country music, folk, Americana, and even bluegrass.

Reckless Kelly’s recently released record, The 9/11 Demos is an impressive new offering from the veteran band.  The 61-minute record will appeal equally to the band’s established audience base and to casual fans of country music, bluegrass, folk, and Americana.  That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements are, for the most part, familiar territory for the band.  That is because they so expertly balance the elements of the noted genres into one whole from one song to the next.  Co-founder Willy Braun even said of the arrangements during a recent interview, “For the average listener, they’ll hear some familiar RK songs, albeit, different in structure and in their infant stage, as well as several previously unreleased songs that never found a home, but maybe should have.”  Whether it be the somber, collected vibes of ‘May Peace Find You Tonight,’ the more energetic sense of ‘Me & My Baby’ or even something more middle ground (for lack of better wording), such as ‘I Saw It Coming,’ the arrangements each do an impressive job of presenting that familiar blend of musical influences for which the band has come to be known throughout its life.  For all of the familiarity and enjoyment that the arrangements offer, there is one arrangement that is enjoyable even being less familiar in its stylistic approach.  It comes late in the record’s run in the form of ‘I Hate That Guy,’ the album’s penultimate entry.  While the band’s familiar country and bluegrass leanings are just as much on exhibit here as anywhere else in the album, the song’s arrangement also presents some distinct rock leanings.  More specifically, Braun’s vocals alongside the song’s instrumentation immediately lend themselves collectively to comparisons to early works from Nirvana.  It’s an odd comparison, yes, but it is there and it works so well.  It really stands out as one of the album’s best works.  Between that arrangement and so many others featured in this record, the overall musical picture painted in this album is rich and immersive.  It gives audiences plenty to appreciate in itself and is just one of the items that makes the album successful.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements  add even more to that success.

The lyrical themes that accompany The 9/11 Demos’ musical content are important to address because they are just as accessible as that noted content.  For instance, ‘Snowfall,’ the album’s opener presents a lyrical theme that comes across as being about being out on the road.  In this case, it proves different from so many similar style songs because it is not just about missing being home.  Yes, there is there in the song’s lead verse, but the second verse turns the tables a bit, with Braun singing about the pleasure in getting back out on the road and finding a certain freedom.  It is a unique take on a familiar topic that is certain to connect with audiences through that original approach.

On a separate note, a song, such as ‘Me & My Baby’ is just as familiar in its lyrical theme.  In this case, the song is a celebratory work in which the subject is head over heels for a woman.  Again, it is another familiar topic across the musical universe.  The way in which the topic is approached here makes just as certain that it will appeal to audiences.

On yet another note, ‘Wicked Twisted Road,’ the album’s contemplative finale, is yet another example of the importance of the record’s lyrical themes.  In this case, the song finds its subject looking back at his life, not so much with regret, but with that deeply noted contemplation.  It is simply a rich rumination on where the subject was and where he is today.  There is no real oh woe is me here, but rather, just deep thought.  It is another familiar lyrical theme that is once again used across the musical universe, and is just as accessible in this presentation as in any other case.  When the accessibility of this theme is considered along with the other themes examined here and the rest of the record’s themes, the whole joins with the album’s equally accessible and enjoyable musical arrangements to make the overall content more than enough reason for audiences to hear The 9/11 Demos.  Taking this into account, the overall content is just a part of what makes the album work.  The sequencing of that content rounds out the album’s most important items.

The 9/11 Demos’ sequencing is important because of its role in the album’s general effect.  The sequencing takes into full account, the musical and lyrical content that makes up the album’s body.  In taking this into account, the energies exhibited in each arrangement keep the record progressing fluidly from one song to the next.  The lyrical themes change just enough from one song to the next, too, through the sequencing.  The result is that the lyrical themes ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment just as certainly as its musical arrangements.  Taking all of this into mind, the sequencing shows that plenty of time and thought went into this album’s sequencing.  Those behind the record’s creation showed that they did not just toss the songs together in random fashion.  There was deliberate direction in the sequencing, and it paid off fully from one song to the next.  The positive impact of the expert sequencing works with the equally positive impact of the record’s content to make the record in whole another successful entry from Reckless Kelly.

Reckless Kelly’s recently released album, The 9/11 Demos is a strong new offering from the veteran country/rock band.  Its success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements prove successful in their own right because they are familiar in their sounds and stylistic approaches.  At the same time they still boast their own identities separate from the band’s existing catalog.  The lyrical themes that accompany the noted musical content make for their own appeal.  They prove important because they are just as familiar and accessible as the noted musical content.  The sequencing of that collective content puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation.  That is because it takes the noted content into full account in attempting to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  It succeeds in this avenue, too.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the overall album one of the best of this year’s new country/bluegrass/folk/Americana albums.

In related news, Reckless Kelly is in the midst of a tour in support of its new album. The band’s upcoming tour dates are noted below.

Tour Dates:

10/1: San Antonio, TX – Sam’s Burger Joint

10/8: Omaha, NE – Barnato

10/9: Mills, WY – Beacon Club

10/10: Missoula, MT – The Wilma

10/12: Bend, OR – Tower Theatre

10/13: Stanley, ID – Mountain Village Resort

10/14: Stanley, ID – Mountain Village Resort

10/15: Garden City, ID – Revolution Concert House

10/16: Pocatello, ID – Stephens Performing Art Center

10/17: Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot

10/18: Fort Collins, CO – Washington’s

10/21: Oklahoma City, OK – Tower Theatre

10/22: Fort Smith, AR – Temple Live

10/29: Fredericksburg, TX – The Backyard Amphitheater 

11/10: Newport Beach, CA – Campus Jax

11/11: San Luis Obispo, CA – Fremont Theater

11/12: Felton, CA – Felton Music Hall

11/13: Berkeley, CA – Cornerstone Craft Beer & Live Music

11/14: Petaluma, CA – Mystic Theatre

11/16: Reno, NV – Virginia Street Brewhouse11/18: Amarillo, TX – Hoot’s Pub

11/20: Hawkins, TX – Red Rooster Icehouse

4/2/2022: Houston, TX – 713 Music Hall

The 9/11 Demos is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Reckless Kelly’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.recklesskelly.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/recklesskelly96

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/recklesskelly

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

BBC’s ‘The Watch’ Is A Success In Hopefully The First Of Many Seasons To Come

Courtesy: BBC Studios/BBC America

More than six years ago when the British television network itv premiered its short-lived action series, Jekyll & Hyde, that series proved a big hit among many audiences.  Even with its popularity, the series ended up getting canceled after just one season.  The decision by the network’s heads to cancel the series due to pressure from certain group was a terrible decision.  That is because the series really could have been something great had it been given more of a chance.  Now years later, fans of BBC’s The Watch are hoping executives at that network do not make the same mistake with that series.  The show, which is an adaptation of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, ran for eight episodes from January to February of this year and was released to Blu-ray and DVD over the summer.  For those who have yet to watch this hopefully inaugural (and not only) season, it is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation.  That is even with the deviations from Pratchett’s original novels.  Speaking of which, the story at the heart of the show forms a strong foundation for the show.  It will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on camera adds to the show’s appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the show’s home release rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the show’s home release.  All things considered, they make the hopefully first of many seasons to come a success from beginning to end.

BBC’s The Watch is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation from which so many American network executives could take a hint.  That is because of how bland and boring so much American television programming is today in comparison to this and so many other shows from “the old country.”  The show’s success comes in large part through its story.  The story centers on a group of misfit law enforcement officers in an alternate dimension who for years had done little to nothing in the way of law enforcement.  That is because crime in the city that they “watch” has become largely legal.  The Watch’s officers – Capt. Sam Vimes (Richard Dormer – Fortitude), Cpl. Cherry (Jo Eaton-Kent – Lessons, Don’t Forget The Driver), Cpl. Angua von Uberwald (Marama Corlett – Guardians of the Galaxy, Blood Drive, Sick Note) and Sgt. Detritus (Craig Macrae – Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) spend most of their time just sitting in their office until one day when the young, naïve Constable Carrot Ironfoundersson (Adam Hugill – 1917, The Banishing, Sherwodd) comes along and shakes things up.  He and the re-emergence of Vimes’ former friend turned villain – Carcer Dunn (Samuel Adewunmi – Angela Black, You Don’t Know Me, Prime Suspect: Tennison) lead the officers to start returning to what The Watch once did.  It also leads the outcasts to grow personally and as a family of sorts as they work to try and prevent Carcer from achieving his evil goal.

Speaking of Carcer and his goal, he and his plan actually are just part of a bigger plot.  Not to give away too much here, but as the series continues, it turns out that Carcer is really just a pawn in a bigger plan by a group of unseen beings.  Many viewers might have missed this, but those beings really are a sort of updated take on the Gods in The Odyssey.  Just like they caused so much trouble for Odysseus in that timeless epic tale, these “gods” have their own plan for Vimes and company.  Keeping that in mind, that link between this show and such classical literature makes for its own appeal within the story.

As the story progresses, the character development that takes place within each of The Watch’s officers also plays into the story’s appeal.  Audiences will enjoy watching the growing relationship between Carrot and Angua in its subtleties, as well as Vimes’ own development.  Seeing him go from a “bottomed out” alcoholic police officer back to his former confidence is engaging and entertaining in its own right.  In the same vein, watching Cherry come into his/her own identity makes for its own interest, too. 

Getting back to the story itself, another big part of the story’s success comes in its overall execution.  Yes, it is a serialized show here.  However, the show’s writers somehow managed to make it feel episodic within the bigger picture of the serialized nature of the overall series.  The stories all connect but are their own from one to the next.  Now full discretion (and again, not to give away too much), the last episode does feel like it runs longer than it should have.  It seems like it could have wrapped itself up at many points, but then keeps going.  It makes one wonder how many hands were in the proverbial pot, considering this problem.  Thankfully it does finally end, and when it does, it leaves the door wide open for a second season that again BBC’s officials will hopefully provide.  That is because that second seasons is not only needed but deserved.

While the story featured in the hopefully inaugural season of The Watch does a lot to make it so enjoyable (even with the deviations from the source material in mind), it is just one part of what makes the show so enjoyable.  The cast’s work on camera does its own part to make the presentation engaging and entertaining.  Right from the top is Dormer’s work.  His take of Vimes throughout the show is the most notable.  The subtle way in which Dormer takes Vimes from a hopeless, alcoholic bum to a more self-assured, confident leader makes for so much appeal in itself.  That character development alongside his comedic timing throughout the show adds to the appeal in his acting, too.  Similarly, Eaton-Kent’s almost deadpan persona against the edgier presence of Corlett and the naivety of Ironfoundersson presented by Hugill makes for such a welcome contrast among the cast.  The cast members each make their characters’ personalities so rich yet controlled at the same time.  It shows such professionalism and in turn engagement and entertainment from each cast member.  Of course, one cannot ignore the work of Lara Rossi opposite Dormer.  Her matter of fact, “straight woman” persona opposite Dormer’s Vimes crates its own interesting character contrast that entertains and engages in its own right, too.

On yet another note, Wendell Pierce’s performance as Death is just as worth noting as the other cast members’ work.  The same can be said of Adewunmi’s work as Carcer.  Pierce’s performance, his very persona is so laugh-inspiring in the best way possible.  Instead of being this dark, evil character, he is just laid back, wishing he could be like any human whose soul he has to take upon their dying.  He even complains about it so often, stating, “No one ever listens, no one ever pays attention.”  He declarations and general presence makes Pierce’s work such a wonderful addition even being a supporting role.

Adewunmi does everything right that so many American actors get wrong in the way of playing an overly obsessed megalomaniac.  The subtle control in his anger is so gripping thanks to Adewunmi’s work.  The way in which he emotes, gives him an almost scary calm as he talks about bringing down the dragon to destroy the city and the whole world.  Even as he faces Wonse (Bianca Simone Mannie – Homeland, Vagrant Queen, Our Girl) in the final episode (again not too much will be given away here), accepting his fate, audiences cannot help but be gripped by that reaction.  It is just one more example of the importance of the cast’s work.  Keeping the cast’s overall work in mind here along with the impact of the story, the presentation becomes that much more engaging and entertaining.  Those items are just a part of what makes the show so appealing.  The bonus content that accompanies the show in its home release rounds out its most important items.

The bonus content that accompanies the show runs in a range of directions.  The lead, “Making of” feature takes audiences behind the scenes and shows how some of the program’s key scenes and characters were handled.  The discussion, for instance, on the determination of the show’s creative heads to avoid using CG at all costs really instills more respect for those efforts and the show.  The discussion in question comes as the costume and makeup officials talk about how they created the costume for Sgt. Detritus.  Watching the amount of work that went into the costume’s creation is awe-inspiring.  On another note, there is also a separate discussion in another feature that acknowledges the difficulty in staying true to Pratchett’s novels in creating this show.  The respect that is shown by all involved will hopefully encourage the show’s critics to change their minds about the program.  As if that is not enough, the character profiles do their own share to also show the importance of the cast’s work.  It compliments the other bonuses noted here and the rest of the bonus content to make the overall bonus content just as important to the presentation here as the cast’s work and the story.  When all three items are considered together, they make the overall presentation that is The Watch well worth the watch.

BBC’s The Watch is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining presentation.  Despite what many of its critics would have people believe, it is engaging and entertaining.  That is due in part to the show’s central story.  Yes, there are deviations from the source material, but few TV shows and/or movies based on books have ever been 100 percent true to its source material.  That is just sadly how it is.  Even with that in mind, the story here is still its own entertaining presentation.  From its ability to solidly balance episodic and serialized writing, to its very presentation, the story offers plenty for audiences to appreciate in itself.  The cast’s work joins with the story to make the presentation even more engaging and entertaining.  That is because each cast member’s work is so believable.  From one to the next, each performance is unique and bounces off the others just as well.  The bonus content that accompanies the show in its recent home release puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  It adds just enough background to enhance the viewing experience even more enjoyable.  Each item examined is important in its own way to The Watch.  All things considered, they make this show one of the best of this year’s new home DVD/BD releases for grown-up audiences.  One can only hope at this point that it will get a second season and that the BBC will not make the same mistake that itv made with Jekyll & Hyde.

The Watch is available now.  More information on The Watch is available along with all of the show’s latest news at:

Website: https://bbcstudios.com/case-studies/the-watch

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWatchTV

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.  

Kulick Debuts ‘Time To Go’ Video

Courtesy: ENCI Records

Independent singer-songwriter Kulick kicked off the weekend with the debut of the video for his latest single.

Kulick premiered the video for his new single, ‘Time To Go‘ Friday. The video’s debut comes a week after Kulick debuted the song by itself. The song is the lead single from Kulick’s forthcoming EP, Everyone I Know Will Die, whose release date is under consideration.

The video for ‘Time To Go’ features what is meant to represent Kulick (a.k.a. Jacob Kulick) looking back on his teen and wondering, “What If…” while also looking forward, understanding and accepting his mortality.

Kulick talked about the video’s treatment and how it connects to the song’s lyrical theme in comments made in a prepared statement.

“This music video is by far one of my favorite music videos that I’ve ever done because I was able to tell my story and have a crew of really talented people execute it,” the statement reads. “I always wanted to have a younger version of myself in a video, and Aiden Cullen was absolutely perfect for the role, and an incredible person. Spencer Sease, the director, really took my idea and made it 100x better than I could have imagined.”

The statement continues, “The feeling of my teenage years and the nostalgia is so present in this video, and that was the most important thing to me. It portrays what my childhood would have been like, only if I grew up in California, which is a cool mind bending concept to watch play out while also listening to my very personal and autobiographical lyrics. ‘Time to Go’ is specifically about my own mortality, my upbringing, how I used to live life, and realizing how much control I have over my attitude and perspective on life. I really do love life and I don’t think I’ll ever be ready when it’s time to go.”

The musical arrangement featured in the new single is an upbeat, pop punk style composition. Its energy and the mood is interesting in that it helps to establish the mood in the song’s lyrical theme.

In other news, Kulick is scheduled to join The Spill Canvas on the road this fall. Tickets are available here. The tour’s dates are noted below.

Tour Dates

w/ The Spill Canvas

4-Nov Hamden, CT Space Ballroom Tickets

5-Nov Harrisburg, PA HMAC (Small Room) Tickets

6-Nov Rochester, NY Montage Music Hall Tickets

7-Nov Albany, NY Empire Underground Tickets

9-Nov Providence, RI Alchemy Tickets

11-Nov Portland, ME Aura Tickets

12-Nov Amityville, NY AMH Tickets

13-Nov Asbury Park, NJ House of Independents Tickets

14-Nov Easton, PA One Centre Square Tickets

16-Nov Richmond, VA Canal Club Tickets

17-Nov Charlotte, NC Amos Southend Tickets

18-Nov Nashville, TN The End Tickets

19-Nov Indianapolis, IN Emerson Theater Tickets

20-Nov Grand Rapids, MI The Stache Tickets

21-Nov Ann Arbor, MI The Blind Pig Tickets

Kulick released his most recent record, Sitting in a Quiet Coffeehouse. The EP was released early this year. It is the companion piece to Kulick’s album, Yelling in a Quiet Neighborhood, which was released last year.

More information on Kulick’s new single and EP is available along with of all his latest news at:

Websitehttps://kulickofficial.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/kulickofficial

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/kulickofficial

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Common’s ‘A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2’ Is A Solid Companion Piece To Its Predecessor

Courtesy: Loma Vista

When vteran rapper Common released his then latest album, A Beautiful Revolution, last year, the record proved to be among the best of the year’s new rap and hip-hop records.  Now less than a year after its release, Common has returned with an equally successful offering in that record’s companion, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2.  Released Sept. 10, the 11-song record succeeds in part through its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies that musical content adds its own appeal to the presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, bringing everything together and completing that presentation.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make the record just as successful as the record’s predecessor and one of this year’s top new rap and hip-hop records.

Common’s recently released record, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 is a solid follow-up/companion to last year’s A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1.  It success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are everything that audiences have come to expect from Common.  Rather than the typical use of turntables, etc. Common has once again opted for a blend of vintage r&b, funk and hip-hop in each song.  It seems the closest that Common gets to any “modern” rap and hip-hop musical leanings comes in ‘Saving Grace.’  Even in that case though, that sound and style is accompanied by a clear r&b influence.  The balance of those sounds and styles makes this song’s musical content some of the record’s best.  On another note, Petry, which finds Common partner with rocker Marcus King, offers audiences more of a southern blues style approach along with the steady hip-hop beats that keep the song moving.  This is truly a unique approach for Common.  It continues to show Common’s willingness to take chances and really try new things.  The result is another example of what makes this record’s musical arrangements so engaging and entertaining.  On yet another note, the music bed featured in ‘A Beautiful Chicago Kid’ is another blend of hop-hop and funk that stands out here even from its counterparts.  The upbeat tempo and delivery of the arrangement makes it immediately and infectious.  That it so quickly grabs listeners and ensures their engagement and entertainment also means that the song’s lyrical content will resonate with listeners in its own right.  That will be discussed momentarily.  Staying on the matter of the album’s musical content, everything examined here joins with the rest of the record’s musical arrangements to make the record’s overall musical content a strong starting point for A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2.  The noted lyrical content pairs with the album’s musical content to make the record even more appealing.

The lyrical content that is featured throughout Common’s new album is just as engaging and entertaining as the record’s musical content because it is also everything that audiences have come to expect from the veteran rapper/actor.  The lyrical content featured throughout the album is so positive from one song to the next.  It is meant to uplift his audiences in so many ways.  Case in point is the early entry, ‘When We Move (ft. Black Thought and Seun Kuti).’  Common wraps about what seems like taking pride in his ancestry and his present.  This is inferred as he rap, “Picture this country being brave without us/A slave’s nostalgia/Move through the woods with vigor/When we got free the world moves with us/Now they wanna change their bodies/Go figure/Used to call us/Now they wanna be ******/We the rivers that move through the jungle, yo/When we move we make the world wonderful.”  Black Thought expands on Common’s thoughts in the song’s second verse.  Simply put, this is a welcome statement of pride and self-confidence in not only Common’s ancestry, but in that of the African-Americans in general.  It is also a statement of pride in African-Americans today and how they have changed the world.  There needs to be more of this kind of statement in rap and hip-hop and so much less that glorifies drugs, womanizing, etc.  As one of the members of Jurassic 5 recently said, ending that lies in a big way in addressing the record labels that expect that kind of content from rappers. 

Moving on from there, ‘Poetry’ is another example of the power in this record’s lyrical content.  Common raps here about his humility and his religious devotion, as well as his devotion to loved ones.  Right from the song’s outset, he raps, “Whether facing the East or facing the beast/I’ma keep fightin’ till the world say, “Peace”/Hollywood guilt put a ***** in grease/I’m God-bodied but devil’s in the deets/But I still listen when Mohammed speaks/And get a good work when PT preach/My mama used to teach/So its lessons to learn/ Before I step and repеat, I step and I earn/I met a girl’s daddy, hе was kept in a urn/The world as we knew it, it was destined to burn/My success is a verb, it’s a blessing to serve.”  This first verse makes clear exactly what has been noted here.  This is dedication, humility, just pure positive words and vibes.  He concludes the verse by stating, “Poetry in motion/We moving forward today.”  This is, again, more inspiring content that is certain to resonate with listeners.  The song’s second verse is equally rich and moving in its content.  All things considered here, the whole of this song continues to exhibit the positivity that has kept Common so beloved throughout his career and keeps him just as respected in this record.

‘Star of the Gang’ is yet another example of the power presented in this record’s lyrical content.  Right from the song’s outset, Common uses the song’s chorus, and its statement alone is more than powerful enough.  He raps here, “Everything is alright/I’ve been through a lot, but I’m fortunate/Feel it comin’ from all sides/Heavy is the crown, but I’m passionate/And I know I’ll be just fine/Understand the world, we’re the same/I’ll be alright/I’ve been through a lot, but I’m fortunate.”  This is a brief statement, being the song’s chorus, but it speaks volumes.  This statement sets the stage for the ruminations that follow.  Those ruminations are deep in their own right, and continue to prove the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  When this song’s lyrical content is considered with that also examined here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole leaves no doubt as to the noted importance.  When the richness and depth of the album’s lyrical content is considered with the equally accessible musical content, that overall content gives audiences more than enough reason to hear this record.  Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to examine here.  It comes in the form of the album’s sequencing.

The sequencing featured in A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 is important to examine because it takes the albums’ musical and lyrical content into account and brings it all together.  As noted, each arrangement is familiar from Common.  Once again, he has taken the road less traveled here, opting for a purer sound than the typical bass heavy approach that is way too commonplace in today’s rap music.  The mood stays the same from one song to the next thanks to the sequencing of that content.  The result is that it keeps listeners laid back and relaxed.  In turn, it ensures in its own right, that maintained engagement and entertainment.  The sequencing also plays into the lyrical content, changing topics steadily from one to the next while also ensuring the topics are accessible in each song.  The clear attention paid to each work in terms of the musical and lyrical content pays off in its own right.  When the result of that work is considered along with the impact of the record’s overall content, the whole makes clear that this record is among the best of this year’s new rap and hip-hop records.

Common’s latest album, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2, is a strong new offering from the veteran rapper/actor.  Its success comes in part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements are everything that audiences have come to expect from Common throughout his catalog.  Each arrangement is fully accessible as well as engaging and entertaining because of the approach taken to each work.  The record’s lyrical content makes it just as appealing as the noted musical content.  The lyrical content is so appealing because of its depth and yet accessibility.  The sequencing of all of that content brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation.  It takes both items into account and uses them to ensure listeners will remain engaged and entertained throughout the 38-minute record.  Each item examined is important in its own right.  All things considered, they make A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 one of the best of this year’s new rap and hip-hop albums.

A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 is available now.  More information on the record is available along with all of Common’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://thinkcommon.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/thinkcommon

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/common



To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.  

Versus Me Debuts New Single, ‘Down’

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Independent hard rock band Versus Me debuted its latest single this week.

The band premiered its new single, ‘Down‘ Friday. The song features a heavy musical arrangement whose blend of heavy screams, clean vocals, and equally heavy, rich instrumentation lends itself to comparison to works from Wage War and Ice Nine Kills.

The song’s lyrical theme came about in an unexpected fashion, and delivers a message of facing life’s obstacles head on. This is according to comments from front man James Millbrandt.

“The song is about the fight or flight response and being beaten down by life’s trials,” he said. “I wrote this song as I was about to board a flight for my first time flying. The nerves were getting to me and everyone’s advice on flying wasn’t really helping. So I started writing the lyrics as I was sitting in the airport terminal. The resulting song is a high energy and emotionally honest message that we feel as a band, anyone could relate to.”

More information on Versus Me’s new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.vsmeband.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vsmeband

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vsmeband

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Madame Mayhem Debuts New Single, ‘I Am More,’ Companion Video

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Madame Mayhem returned Friday with her latest single.

The singer-songwriter (a.k.a. Natalie Ann Cohen) debuted her new single, ‘I Am More‘ and its companion video Friday. The song comes more than seven months after Cohen debuted her then latest single, ‘Cruel Heart‘ and its companion video.

The musical arrangement featured in Cohen’s new single is a heavy, melodic hard rock style composition. Cohen’s balance of clean vocals and occasional guttural screams pairs with the heavy instrumentation to make the overall arrangement an instantly infectious composition.

The lyrical theme that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement is meant to deliver an uplifting message promoting self-confidence, according to a statement from Cohen.

“‘I Am More’ is very much about self empowerment, standing up for yourself and telling the world not to underestimate you,” she said. “It’s a song that really gives confidence. We are all stronger than we know”

The video for ‘I Am More’ features Cohen and her band mates performing the new single in a darkened studio setting. It blends that with a presentation of Cohen sitting at a table, singing at an unidentified figure, telling that person that she is better than that person thinks. The visualization is meant to illustrate and translate the noted lyrical theme.

More information on Madame Mayhem’s new single and video is available along with all of her latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.madamemayhem.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/madamemayhem

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MayhemOfficial

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Ovtlier Debuts New Single, ‘All I Need’; Announces New Live Dates With Gemini Syndrome

Courtesy: Zoid Entertainment

Ovtlier premiered its latest single this week.

The band premiered its new single, ‘All I Need‘ Thursday. The song boasts a unique musical arrangement. The primary guitar line featured in this arrangement lends itself easily to comparison to that featured in Deftones’ hit song’ My Own Summer (Shove It).’ A close listen to each song reveals the similarity in sound. It is not precise, but is there.

As the arrangement progresses though, that guitar line gradually evolves and offers a heavy, dark sound that is complimented just as well by the song’s bass line and vocals from front man Joey Arena.

Arena talked about the song’s lyrical theme in a prepared statement.

“I was raised on unstable grounds,” the statement reads. “Therapy taught me to stop making excuses for those that have abused and abandoned me. A man that distantly titled himself as a “father” but neglected every simple duty of being one. A stepfather who looked for excuses to beat on me or throw me out for years. I accept that this is the hand that I am dealt. I respect and appreciate the journey I have been shaped and designed to travel. I am all I need”

In other news, Ovtlier is scheduled to serve as support for Gemini Syndrome on its upcoming headlining tour. Ovtlier’s dates with Gemini Syndrome are noted below.

GEMINI SYNDROME ‘Initiation’ USA Fall 2021 tour dates:
10/28 – Chippewa Falls, WI – Joel’s 4Corners #
10/29 – Green Bay, WI – EPIC Event Center #
10/30 – Racine, WI – Rt 20 (WIIL Rock Halloween Bash) #
10/31 – Battle Creek, MI – The Music Factory #
11/02 – Lakewood, OH – The Winchester Music Tavern #
11/04 – Flint, MI – The Machine Shop #
11/05 – Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Iron Works #
11/06 – Liverpool, NY – Sharkey’s #
11/07 – Poughkeepsie, NY – The Chance #
11/08 – New York City, NY – Mercury Lounge ####
11/09 – Albany, NY – Empire Underground #
11/10 – Reading, PA – Reverb #
11/12 – Johnson City, TN – Capones #
11/13 – Greensboro, NC – The Blind Tiger #
11/14 – Huntsville, AL – Sidetracks ###

Direct support is Ovtlier #
Smile Empty Soul, Ovtlier, Sunflower Dead, Pushing V, Tommy Gibbons ###
GEMINI SYNDROME and Ovtlier only ####

‘All I Need’ is just the latest single from Ovtlier. The band most recently premiered its single, ‘Bulletproof‘ and a companion video. The band has also released the singles, ‘Who We Are‘ and ‘Buried Me Alive.’

More information on Ovtlier’s new single and tour dates is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ovtlier

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OvtlierBand

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Ministry Postpones Industrial Strength Tour Again

Courtesy: FR-PR

For the second time in a year, Ministry has postponed its “Industrial Strength Tour.”

The band was initially going to run the tour early this year, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the band to announce in March, it had postponed the tour until next month. Now today the band has announced it has postponed its tour again.

The tour is now scheduled to launch March 6 in Baltimore, MD and to run through April 18 in Seattle, WA. The tour is meant to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band’s seminal album, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste.

Tickets for the new dates are available now with the exception of St. Paul, MN; Montclair, NJ and Huntington, WV shows. Tickets for those concerts will go on sale at 10 a.m. local time Friday. According to information made available in the press release announcing the tour’s latest postponement, “All tickets will be transferred to the new dates.”

The full rundown of updated tour dates are as follows:

*Moved to larger venues due to popular demand

March 2022

6    Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage

8    Huntington, NY @ The Paramount

9    Philadelphia, PA @ Franklin Music Hall

12  Montclair, NJ @ Wellmont Theater

15  Boston, MA @ House of Blues

16  Buffalo, NY @ Buffalo Riverworks

22  Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle

23  Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live

26  Dallas, TX @ Amplified Life

28  San Antonio, TX @ Aztec Theater

29  Houston, TX @ House of Blues

31  Chicago, IL @ Riviera

April 2022

1    Cleveland, OH @ The Agora

3    Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Hall

5    St Paul, MN @ Palace*

9    Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater

10  Denver, CO @ Mission Ballroom*

12  Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren

13  Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues

14  San Diego, CA @ House of Blues

16  San Francisco, CA @ Warfield

18  Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo

More information on Ministry’s new tour dates is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.ministryband.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WeAreMinistry

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/WeAreMinistry

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

As I Lay Dying Debuts ‘Roots Below’ Video; Announces ‘Shaped By Fire’ Re-Issue Coming; Reveals New Live Dates

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

As I Lay Dying is scheduled to re-issue its latest album later this year.

In anticipation of the record’s re-issue — a precise release date is under consideration — the band premiered one of the songs that will feature in the record Friday. It came in the form of the song, ‘Roots Below.’ The band also premiered a visualizer for the single Friday.

The song’s musical arrangement is a heavy, intense mix of metalcore and thrash. It takes listeners back to the band’s infancy with its breakneck speed guitar work and machine gun fast drumming. Front man Tim Lambesis’ growls and clean vocals pair with the intense instrumentation to make the song fully immersive.

Guitarist Phil Sgrosso talked about the creation of the song’s musical arrangement in a prepared statement.

“‘Roots Below’ was a track I initially wrote for the Shaped By Fire album, but at the time we collectively felt it needed more time and attention to develop to its fullest potential,” said Sgrosso. “We were finally able to piece it all together along with some other material taken from the Shaped By Fire touring cycle, bundling it all into a deluxe version of the album.”

Added Sgrosso, “Apart from the studio versions of ‘Roots Below’ and ‘Destruction or Strength,’ there will be an assortment of live songs captured on tour from 2019 in Europe, several ballad/electronic re-interpretations, a studio version of an instrumental track we wrote exclusively for the live show, an instrumental version of the entire album, as well as some other transitional pieces from our set that we wanted to share as part of this release. This has been a very productive first step towards getting back into the creative zone and beginning to focus on new material for next year.”

No information was provided about the song’s lyrical theme in the press release announcing the song’s debut. The lyrics provided with the visualizer hint at a theme of overcoming personal adversity and the causes, both internal and extraneous.

While the release date for the deluxe re-issue of Shaped By Fire is under consideration, the re-issue’s track listing is known. It is noted below.

Below is the Shaped By Fire Deluxe Edition tracklist:

  1. Re-Separation (instrumental)
  2. Roots Below
  3. Destruction or Strength
  4. My Own Grave (re-interpretation)
  5. Redefined (re-interpretation)
  6. Pre-Shaped by Fire (live intro)
  7. Euphony From Ashes (live outro)
  8. Blinded (Live from Munich)
  9. My Own Grave (Live From Munich)
  10. Burn To Emerge (instrumental)
  11. Blinded (instrumental)
  12. Shaped by Fire (instrumental)
  13. Undertow (instrumental)
  14. Torn Between (instrumental)
  15. Gatekeeper (instrumental)
  16. The Wreckage (instrumental)
  17. My Own Grave (instrumental)
  18. Take What’s Left (instrumental)
  19. Redefined (instrumental)
  20. Only After We’ve Fallen (instrumental)
  21. The Toll It Takes (instrumental)

In other news, the band has announced a new slate of live dates. The band’s “Two Decades of Destruction” tour is scheduled to launch March 19, 200 in Saarbrucken, Germany and to run through April 24 in Oberhausen, Germany.

The tour’s schedule is noted below. Dying Fetus, Emmure, and Fit For A King will share time as support for the tour.

19.03.2022 DE Saarbrücken – E-Werk
20.03.2022 FR  Paris Elysée – Montmartre
22.03.2022 FR Toulouse – Le Bikini
23.03.2022 EP Barcelona – Raz/ zmatazz 1
24.03.2022 EP Madrid – La Rivera
25.03.2022 PT Lisbon – Sala Tejo 
26.03.2022 SP Bilbao – Santana27
28.03.2022 FR Lyon – Transbordeur
29.03.2022 DE Würzburg – Posthalle
30.03.2022 NL Tilburg – 0 1 3
01.04.2022 DK Copenhagen – Vega
02.04.2022 SE Gothenburg – Trädgårn
03.04.2022 NO Oslo – Rockefeller
04.04.2022 SE Stockholm – Fållan
06.04.2022 FI Tampere – Pakkahuone
08.04.2022  FI Helsinki – House Of Couture
09.04.2022 EE Tallinn – Helitehas
10.04.2022 LA Riga – Palladium
12.04.2022 PL Warsaw – Progresja
13.04.2022 CZ Prague – Roum Karlin
14.04.2022 HU /Budapest – Barba Negra
15.04.2022 SK Bratislava – Rafinery Gallery
16.04.2022 AT Vienna – Arena Impericon Festival **
17.04.2022 CH Zürich – X-tra Impericon Festival **
19.04.2022 IT Milan – Alcatraz **
20.04.2022 IT Rome – Orion **
22.04.2022 DE Munich – Zenith Impericon Festival **
23.04.2022 DE Leipzig – Messe Impericon Festival **
24.04.2022 DE Oberhausen – Turbinenhalle Impericon Festival **
** W/ FIT FOR A KING (No DYING FETUS)

Shaped By Fire is available to stream and download here. The album’s track listing is noted below. It produced the singles, ‘Shaped By Fire,’ ‘Blinded,’ Redefined‘ and ‘My Own Grave.’ Most recently, the band released the non-album track, ‘Destruction or Strength.’ That song will feature in the forthcoming re-issue of Shaped By Fire.

Shaped By Fire Track Listing:

  1. Burn To Emerge
  2. Blinded
  3. Shaped By Fire
  4. Undertow
  5. Torn Between
  6. Gatekeeper
  7. The Wreckage
  8. My Own Grave
  9. Take What’s Left
  10. Redefined
  11. Only After We’ve Fallen
  12. The Toll It Takes

More information on As U Lay Dying’s new single, album re-issue, and tour schedule is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.asilaydying.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asilaydying

Twitter: https://twitter.com/asilaydyingband

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.