Benedict Cumberbatch Returns Sunday In New ‘Masterpiece’ Movie

Famed actor Benedict Cumberbactch (SherlockStar TrekInto DarknessThe Imitation Game) returns to PBS’ Masterpiece this Sunday night, but not in his familiar role as the world’s most beloved detective.

Cumberbatch stars as author Stephen Lewis, opposite Kelly MacDonald (BraveThe Decoy BrideGosford Park) in this thriller, which sees Lewis on a desperate search for his daughter Kate after she mysteriously disappears.  Things only get worse when Kate’s disappearance and the search for the little girl ends Stephen’s marriage with Julie (played here by MacDonald).

His three-year-long search for Kate is only one of his problems.  He also has to deal with his best friend Charles Dark, who has resigned from his cabinet position and gone to live with his wife Thelma.  It is that situation that leads to the story’s climax, which is then followed by another surprise.

Courtesy: BBC/PBS

The Child in Time airs Sunday night on PBS at 9/8c.  More information on this and other Masterpiece programs is available online now at:






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IFC Resurrecting USA Network’s Classic Series ‘Night Flight’

USA Network’s one-time hit music series Night Flight is coming back…sort of.

IFC recently partnered with the show, which aired on USA from 1981 to 1989, resurrect the program.  In its new presentation, Night Flight will be a short-form show, presenting the series’ most memorable moments.  That includes iconic interviews and performances from some of the music industry’s biggest names of the 80s.

In honor of the series’ return, IFC will host a 90-minute screening event on Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m. at Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse.  That screening will feature some of Night Flight‘s best and most memorable moments and a Q&A session to follow with Night Flight creator and producer Stuart S. Shapiro.

Courtesy: MVD/USA Network

Night Flight was originally resurrected in 2016 as Night Flight Plus, a streaming channel from the series’ original creators.  it is still available today online via Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast.  Those episodes include a number of extras courtesy of MVD including material from the world of music, documentaries, animation, cult film, horror and more all at a cost of $39.99 annually.

More information on Night Flight and its forthcoming return is available online now along with all of its latest news and more at:






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Slayer To Re-Issue “Repentless” On Limited Edition Vinyl Box Set

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

Slayer is giving audiences one more high-powered metal treat before it hits the road for its farewell tour.

The band announced this week that it will release a limited edition vinyl box set pressing of its now final album Repentless this summer.  Repentless6.66 Inch Special Collector’s Edition Vinyl Box Set will be released fittingly on June 6, International Day of Slayer.

The box set will be available in separate black, red and gold-colored vinyl pressings, with only 2,500 copies of each box set produced worldwide.  The sets will consist of six single vinyl EPs, each measuring 6.66 inches in diameter, and each will contain two songs from Repentless.  The red and black disc sets are expected to retail for $66.66 and the gold set for $73.99.  Pre-orders are open now.

The announcement of the new limited edition box sets is just the latest big news from the band as it prepares for its end.  It will hit the road one last time beginning May 10 for an extensive worldwide farewell tour.  The schedule for the tour’s first two legs — each consisting of dates across North America — is noted below.

(Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth and Testament will support)
10   Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA  SOLD OUT
11   Five Point Amphitheatre, Irvine, CA  SOLD OUT
13   Papa Murphy’s Park at Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA  SOLD OUT
16   Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC  SOLD OUT
17   South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton, BC
19   Big Four, Calgary, AB   SOLD OUT
20   Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, AB   SOLD OUT
22   Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, MB
24   The Armory, Minneapolis, MN   SOLD OUT
25   Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Tinley Park, IL
27   Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill, Detroit, MI   SOLD OUT
29   Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON   SOLD OUT
30   Place Bell, Montreal, PQ   SOLD OUT

 1    Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT   SOLD OUT
 2    PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
 4    Santander Arena, Reading, PA   SOLD OUT
 6    Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, OH
 7    Blossom Music Center, Cleveland, OH
 9    KeyBank Pavilion, Pittsburgh, PA
10   Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, VA
12   Veteran’s United Home Loans  Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA
14   PNC Music Pavilion, Charlotte, NC
15   Orlando Amphitheater, Orlando, FL
17   Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, Houston, TX   SOLD OUT
19   The Bomb Factory, Dallas, TX   SOLD OUT
20   Austin360 Amphitheater, Austin, TX  SOLD OUT
(Lamb of God, Anthrax, Testament and Napalm Death will support)
26   Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, Gilford, NH
27   Impact Music Festival, Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, ME
29   Northwell Health at Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY
31   The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, Scranton, PA
 1    Times Union Center, Albany, NY
 3    Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien Lake, NY
 4    Lakeview Amphitheater, Syracuse, NY
 6    Budweiser Gardens, London, ON
 7    Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI
 9    Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, St. Louis, MO
10   Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Atlanta, GA
12   Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, TN
13   Walmart AMP, Rogers, AR
15   Freeman Coliseum, San Antonio, TX
16   The Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK
18   Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, Denver, CO
19   USANA Amphitheatre, Salt Lake City, UT
21   Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater, Boise, ID
23   Sunlight Supply Amphitheater, Portland, OR
26   SAP Center, San Jose, CA
More information on Slayer’s upcoming tour dates, its forthcoming limited edition vinyl box set and more is available online now at:
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Hatchet Premieres ‘Desire For Oppression’ Video

Courtesy: Combat Records

Hatchet is giving audiences their first preview of its new album.

The band on Thursday debuted the video for its new single, ‘Desire For Oppression.’  The song is the first single from the band’s forthcoming album, Dying To Exist, which is currently scheduled to be released June 22 via Combat Records. The video takes audiences into the studio as the band records the song to help illustrate the creative process currently under way on the band’s new album.

Pre-orders are open now for Dying To Exist.  It will be available on CD, vinyl and various bundle packages.


Courtesy: Combat Records

‘Desire For Oppression’ is not only the lead single from Hatchet’s new album, but also the opener for Combat Records’ forthcoming compilation 2-disc set, Combat Bullets Vol. 1.0.  The compilation will also include music from Dead By Wednesday, Marc Rizzo (Soulfly), Dead By Wednesday and many others.  Combat Bullets Vol. 1.0 is currently scheduled to be released April 6 via Combat Records.

More information on Hatchet’s new single and video is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at


Galactic Empire Announces ‘Episode II’ Release Date; Releases Album’s Lead Single

Courtesy: Rise Records

The Empire is rising again!

Galactic Empire announced Friday that it is working on its sophomore album, aptly titled Episode II.  The album is currently scheduled to be released on May 4, 2018 via Rise Records. Pre-orders are open now.

In anticipation of its release, the band has debuted the album’s lead single ‘Scherzo For X-Wing’ via Rise Records’ official YouTube channel. The song takes the band’s familiar Powerglove-esque sound made popular on its debut self-titled album and used it for a familiar sound in a brand new arrangement.

The band said in a collective statement that it is highly anticipating the release of Episode II.

“While our debut allowed us to bring a new perspective to much-loved anthems, our latest technological terror is a darker, heavier and far more epic testament to the true power of the Dark Side of the Force,” the band said.  “We are confident that any rebel strongholds that remain after the last cycle will will soon bow before the empire.  There will be no one to stop us this time.”

The full track listing for Episode II is noted below.

“March of the Resistance”
“Scherzo for X-Wings”
“The Droid Invasion and the Appearance of Darth Maul”
“Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle”
“Love Pledge and The Arena”
“Rey’s Theme”
“The Departure of Boba Fett”
“The Emperor”
“Into The Trap”
“The Battle of Yavin (Launch from the Fourth Moon)”

More information on Galactic Empire’s new album, single and more is available online now at:






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The Amsterdam Red Light District’s Latest LP Proves Again This Band Belongs In The Mainstream

Courtesy: Red Light Records

The Amsterdam Red Light District has finally returned. Early this month, the band released its latest album Sapere Aude. The band’s third full-length studio recording, this 10-song record is another solid new effort from the French four-piece and another work that shows the independent music scene has just as much to offer audiences as the mainstream realm. This is made obvious right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Nobody Moves Like You.’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘Carry On,’ the album’s mid-point — and possibly the album’s best offering –also shows what makes this record so strong. It will be discussed later. ‘Evil Stakeholders,’ the album’s penultimate track, is yet another example of what makes this album so impressive. It will also be discussed later. Of course it is not the last of the songs included in this album that shows its strengths. The other seven songs included in the album’s body are strong points in their own right here. Those songs, together with the works directly noted here, the whole of the album makes this latest effort from TARLD an easy candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new independent albums and hard rock/metal albums.

Sapere Aude, the latest full-length studio recording from France’s The Amsterdam Red Light District, is easily one of this year’s top new independent albums and one of its top new hard rock and metal albums. It is another of those albums that shows — over the course of its 35-minute run — that independent bands deserve just as much attention and credit as their more well-known counterparts. This is proven in this album right off the top in the album’s opener, ‘Nobody Moves Like You.’ In regards to its musical arrangement, it wastes no time at all grabbing listeners. Rather, the band launches almost immediately into the guitar-driven opus and keeps the energy full throttle right to the song’s end. That energy is a great compliment to the song’s lyrical content. That’s because,as it would seem, the song is one of those works that centers on a woman. That is inferred as front man Elio Sxone sings, “I see a smile growing up on your face/You can close your eyes, but your whole body shakes/Stop looking at me like this/And let your body feel the heat.” He also notes at one point in the song, “Nobody moves like you/You used to be so cool/What the f*** happened to you/You don’t feel different/But you don’t feel the same/I’ll give you something you don’t want to forget.” Considering all of this, the song seems to come across as the song’s subject singing to a woman to whom he perhaps had a connection but maybe no longer does. The Sxone’s energy in his vocal delivery, coupled with that of the song’s arrangement, hints at some pretty strong emotions of frustration and sarcasm; sort of as if this is someone saying, look at what you lost. It’s really an interesting work and certainly a strong first impression from the band this time out. It is only one of the album’s strong points, too. ‘Carry On’ is another of the album’s strongest offerings, if not its strongest.

‘Carry On’ is such an interesting work because as with the album’s opener, the pairing of its musical energy and lyrical content creates yet another powerful overall statement. As with ‘Nobody Moves Like You,’ this adrenaline-fueled rocker is very much a guitar-driven piece whose foundation is only strengthened even more by its rhythm section and Sxone’s powerhouse vocals. It is a song that will certainly appeal to fans of Stone Sour and Buckcherry. That sounds like an offbeat comparison, but those are the first bands to come to this critic’s mind. Interestingly enough, those influences work quite well here in keeping listeners engaged and entertained. This time out, the song seems centered on someone who has just been absolutely beaten down by the world and is struggling just to keep it together emotionally. This is inferred as Sxone sings, “I’m not the man I used to be/I am the one you never wanted to see/It’s not that I don’t like you, baby/It’s just that I hate everybody.” The seeming frustration doesn’t end here. He goes on to sing, “It comes alive when I lose control/My state of mind is so unstable/The only thing I know/You have to stop yelling at me when I try to talk/If you think I’m in trouble/Have you ever felt so paranoid?/The only thing I know/If something strange happens to me/You’ve got to keep control/This world makes me feel like I’m losing myself/If you’ve got a solution/I don’t need your help/Carry on.” Again, this seems to hint at someone who has just been torn down emotionally and psychologically. This is inferred even more in the song’s final verse in which Sxone sings, “I promise I’m not as bad as you think/If I don’t know myself, how can you know me anyway/My clear mind is doomed/F****** locked in a room.” This is a pretty strong statement, and one that is certain to reach plenty of listeners. What makes all of this so much more interesting here is that it’s not one of those brooding, goth songs that it could be, considering this wording. Instead, Sxone and his band mates have crafted a song that captures the frustration of someone angry over dealing with this seeming instability, someone who wants some form of stability. This makes the song all the more engaging for audiences, and in turn all the more clear an example of what makes the album in whole stand out. Even as strong as it is, it is not the last example of what makes Sapere Aude another enjoyable effort from TARLD. ‘Evil Stakeholders’ is one more example of what makes the album so impressive.

‘Evil Stakeholders’ speaks for itself just from its title alone. This is a sociopolitical commentary on the current state of the world. It expresses both musically and lyrically, anger and frustration at what the world’s political and other leaders have caused to happen to the planet’s people. Sxone sings here against a metalcore style arrangement, “I try to understand what they’re telling me on TV/Remote control in my hand/Are they watching me?/Spending our time like a flock of sheep/Mind your step/Keep your head up and follow me/Can’t you see that they try to split the world/Spreading their words/Tell us we can’t live together/How can’t you see/Look at me/I cannot breathe anymore/Who is right, who is wrong/How many tons of evil stakeholders/Now don’t you feel paranoid?” He goes on in similar fashion from here on out, even indicting those leaders for trying to bribe the masses to get the votes. Once more, Sxone and company have crafted another powerful statement here, a statement that is just as relevant today as it has ever been. A statement that likely will be relevant for decades to come, sadly. That statement, when coupled with its musical counterpart, goes a long way toward showing even more why the song stands out in this record, and why the record in whole stands out. It is a work that both musically and lyrically is certain to appeal to audiences around the world, yet still not the last of the album’s notable works. ‘Need,’ with its Prong-esque arrangement and commentary on capitalism and consumerism is another stand out effort, as is ‘Over The Fence’ with its defiant call to action against those who control the world and ‘Wild Life,’ which seems to encourage individuality versus being just another drone in the masses. Between those songs, the works more directly noted here and the remaining four songs not discussed here, it becomes clear what makes Sapere Aude a strong new offering from a great independent hard rock band.

Sapere Aude, the third full-length studio recording from The Amsterdam Red Light District, is a powerful new effort from the French hard rock outfit. It shows over the course of its 10-song, 35-minute run that independent acts deserve just as much credit and attention as any major name band. That is proven time and again here, as already noted, beginning with the album’s opener, which seems to center on a broken relationship that is anything but brooding. Rather it is empowering. ‘Carry On’ is another of those works that could have been brooding as it seems to center on personal emotional and psychological strife. Instead of being that brooding work that it could have been, is another impacting work that is certain to give listeners their own strength. That is because it lets them know they are not alone in their struggles. ‘Evil Stakeholders,’ with its blatant commentary on what’s happened to the world thanks to its political and business leaders and its equally stinging musical arrangement, helps the album stand out, too. There’s also the commentary on consumerism in ‘Need’ coupled with its Prong-esque musical arrangement, ‘Over The Fence’ with its defiant, fist-pumping call to action by the world’s people and ‘Wild Life,’ which seems to encourage people to stand up for themselves rather than just being another number, that stands out here. These songs, and the album’s other offerings taken into consideration, make Sapere Aude a great new effort from The Amsterdam Red Light District and — again — more proof of why independent acts deserve just as much attention and credit as their more well-known mainstream counterparts. It also collectively proves this record to be easily one of this year’s top new independent albums and hard rock/metal offerings. It is available now and can be ordered direct via the band’s website. more information on Sapere Aude is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:




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Sons Of Apollo Releases New EP; Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Rock super group Sons of Apollo has a new release available now.

The band has released a new six-song EP promoting its new single ‘Alive.’  The EP –essentially a maxi-CD — features the album take of the song as well as a radio edit, exclusive acoustic take and three companion Spanish language takes of the song.  The Spanish language versions, like the English language versions, are the album take, radio edit and acoustic take.

The record’s release is in anticipation of the band’s upcoming Latin/South America tour, which runs from April 5 to April 15.  The tour includes performances in Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.  Along with the sing’s special new release, the band has also released a Spanish language take of the ‘Alive’ video, which is streaming online now here while the English version is streaming here.

Front man Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, SOTO) said of the single’s Spanish language release that it was intentional, and that his vocals were in fact his own, rather than overdubbed.

“It was discussed we should do a Spanish language version of ‘Alive’ before our first tour of South America, and I was excited to make it work,” Soto said.  “I brought in my close friend Alex to help with the translation as well as coach me on my enunciation.  I am not fluent in Spanish, so it was a difficult process, but it sounds pretty damn cool now that we made it work.  I think my favorite part is hearing Bumblefoot singing in Spanish!”

Bumblefoot, properly known as Ron Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), said he was especially optimistic about audiences hearing the song’s acoustic take.

“I love stripping down a song to its simplest form, showing the core of what the song is,” Thal said.  “The acoustic version of ‘Alive’ has that naked vulnerability, and shows what a great lyricist and melody-maker Jeff is.”


Courtesy: InsideOut Music

While the band is currently pushing its upcoming Latin/South America live dates, they are not the band’s only dates.  The band also has a North American leg that runs a little more than a month from April 19 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to May 26 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  That schedule will be followed by an extensive European schedule that takes the band through summer and fall.

Drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Transatlantic, Liquid Tension Experiment) said of the live dates that he has been anticipating presenting the band’s new album live.

“Ever since this lineup assembled to make Psychotic Symphony, the thing I’ve been most excited about is anticipating how insane this band is going to be on stage,” Portnoy said.  “Well, the wait is almost over!  Here are the first U.S. dates that will get to witness this ‘five-headed musical spectacle’ live on stage in February.  We plan on being on tour all year long, all over the globe, with plenty of dates now being announced with summer festivals throughout Europe, but these are the very first shows that will get to witness this amazing lineup in person for the first time.  We can’t wait!”

The band’s current tour schedule, including its upcoming Latin/South American dates, is noted below.

Check out SONS OF APOLLO at any of the following stops:
DATE               CITY                             VENUE
Thu 4/5             Monterrey, Mexico         Escena
Fri 4/6               Mexico City, Mexico      Circo Volador
Sun 4/8             Santiago, Chile              Teatro Teleton
Tue 4/10            Buenos Aires, Argentina            Groove
Thu 4/12            Porto Alegre, Brazil       Opinião Bar
Sat 4/14            São Paulo, Brazil           Tropical Butanta
Sun 4/15           Belo Horizonte, Brazil    Music Hall
Thu 4/19            Montreal, QUE.             Corona Theatre
Fri 4/20             Toronto, ONT.               The Opera House
Sat 4/21            Grand Rapids, MI          The Intersection
Sun 4/22           St. Louis, MO                Delmar Hall
Tue 4/24            Lawrence, KS                Granada Theater
Wed 4/25          Denver, CO                   Summit Music Hall
Fri 4/27             Las Vegas, NV              Brooklyn Bowl
Sat 4/28            Sacramento, CA            Ace Of Spades
Sun 4/29           Portland, OR                 Hawthorne Theatre
Mon 4/30          Seattle, WA                   The Showbox
Wed 5/2            San Francisco, CA        The Regency Ballroom
Thu 5/3             Los Angeles, CA           The Belasco Theatre
Fri 5/4               Anaheim, CA                 House Of Blues
Sat 5/5              Tempe, AZ                    Marquee Theatre
Mon 5/7            San Antonio, TX            Alamo City Music Hall
Tue 5/8             Dallas, TX                     Canton Hall
Wed 5/9            Houston, TX                  Scout Bar
Fri 5/11             Nashville, TN                 3rd & Lindsley
Sat 5/12            St. Charles, IL               Arcada Theatre
Sun 5/13           Minneapolis, MN           Varsity Theater
Tue 5/15            Cleveland, OH               House Of Blues
Wed 5/16          Philadelphia, PA            Theatre of Living Arts
Fri 5/18             New York, NY               Playstation Theater
Sat 5/19            Worcester, MA              The Palladium
Sun 5/20           Washington, D.C.          The Howard Theatre
Sat 5/26            San Juan, PR                Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré
Fri 6/22             Clisson, France             Hellfest
Sat 6/23            Dessel, Belgium            Graspop
Sun 6/24           Milan, Italy                    Teatro Degli Arcimbodi
Tue 6/26            Prague, Czech Republic Futurum
Wed 6/27          Leipzig, Germany          Hellraiser
Sat 6/30            Barcelona, Spain           Be Prog My Friend
Sun 7/1             Maidstone, U.K.                        Ramblin’ Man Fair
Mon 7/2            Motherwell, Scotland     Motherwell Concert Hall
Tue 7/3             Belfast, Ireland             Limelight
Wed 7/4            Dublin, Ireland               Tivoli Variety Theatre
Fri 7/6               Knislinge, Sweden         Helgeafestivalen
Sat 7/7              Brighton, U.K.               The Haunt
Sun 7/8             Nottingham, U.K.           Rescue Rooms
Sun 7/14           Eindhoven, Netherlands Dynamo MetalFest
Fri 8/3               Wacken, Germany         Wacken Open Air
Sat 8/18            Warsaw, Poland            Prog In Park
Sun 8/19           Budapest, Hungary        Barba Negra Track
Mon 9/10          Osaka, Japan                Big Cat
Tue 9/11            Tokyo, Japan                Liquid Room
Wed 9/12          Tokyo, Japan                Liquid Room
Sat 9/15            Raismes, France           Raismes Fest
Wed 9/19          Moscow, Russia            Glavclub
* Sat 9/22          Plovdiv, Bulgaria           Roman Amphitheater
Mon 9/24          Athens, Greece             Fuzz Club
Wed 9/26          Tel Aviv, Israel               Barby Club
Sun 9/30           Glasgow, Scotland        The Garage
Mon 10/8          Zurich, Switzerland        Complex
Fri 10/12           Paris, France                 Elysee Montmartre
Sat 10/13          Toulouse, France           Very Prog Festival
Mon 10/15         Lyon, France                 Radiant-Bellevue
Tue 10/16          Strasbourg, France        La Laiterie
* A Very Special Evening with SONS OF APOLLO and the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony.
More information on Sons of Apollo’s new EP/maxi-single, its new live schedule and more is available online now at:
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Odin Inks New Deal With EMP Label Group; Announces Live Date

Courtesy: EMP Label Group/O’Donnell Media Group

EMP label Group has expanded its artist roster again.

The label, headed by Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson, has inked a new deal with veteran rock band Odin.  While specifics of the deal have not been announced, it is known that the label will re-issue much of the band’s classic catalog as part of the deal.  That includes re-issues of Don’t Take No For An Answer and Fight For Your Life. which is available now for pre-order.

Fight For Your Life, which was released exclusively in Japan in 1988, will feature a handful of bonus tracks in its re-issue, including a re-worked take of ‘Little Gypsy.’  That song was included in director Penelope Spheeris’ documentary Decline of Western CivilizationPart 2 — The Metal Years.

EMP Label Group head Thom Hazaert said in a recent interview that he was especially anticipating the re-issue of Don’t Take No For An Answer.

“We really wanted the re-issue of Don’t Take No For An Answer to be painfully faithful to the original release, but with a few modern upgrades, and we pored over every details,” Hazaert said.  “As a HUGE fan of Odin, I wanted to create a really special reissue that fans could celebrate, and would really be a nod to this seminal, criminally overlooked release.”

Official release dates for Odin’s albums will be announced in the coming weeks.  Those dates will be announced, along with all of the band’s latest news and more online at:






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‘Automata I,’ Is A Solid Start For BTBAM’s ‘Automata’

Courtesy: Sumerian Records

Progressive metal outfit Between The Buried and Me has, over the course of almost two decades, entertained audiences the world over with its unique brand of music, building its fan base along the way largely on its own terms and without major mainstream support. Given, the band was signed most recently to Metal Blade Records, which has become a major label in its own right, but only for hard rock and metal. To that end it can be argued, again, that BTBAM has largely built its success while staying just under that mainstream radar. That success continues this year with the band’s latest album, Automata I, released March 9 via independent label Sumerian Records. This record, the band’s ninth, can be said to be a success in part because of its concept. This will be discussed shortly. The songs used to tell the record’s story also play into its success. They will be discussed later. The record’s production values round out its most important elements. Each piece of the whole is important in its own way. All things considered, they make Automata I another welcome return for BTBAM and one more of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Automata I, the first half of BTBAM’s new double album Automata, is one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums. That is due in no small part to the concept at the center of the album. The concept here contemplates what would happen if one’s dreams could be broadcast to the world for the sake of entertainment. It’s not such an out there concept considering all the people creating their own YouTube channels that they use to broadcast their personal feelings to the world, a world of strangers both good and — sadly — bad. Of course that seemingly was not what the band intended to convey here. Rather the band was examining what would happen if one’s literal dreams, those thoughts that rise in our sleep, could be broadcast for entertainment. This in itself is the starting point for plenty of discussions, not the least of which is why would anyone want to delve so deeply into someone’s personal life? Has mankind really become that desperate for drama, conflict and attention that one would even consider finding a way to do that? What would be the ramifications of going such a route? Simply put, this is a deep concept, and an original one at that, especially for a concept album. If for no reason other than for taking in this concept, audiences will want to hear this record. This is not the first concept album from BTBAM, and definitely not the least of those albums, either. As a matter of fact, it’s a concept that is just as interesting as those presented in the band’s previous concept efforts — The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012), Coma Ecliptic (2015) — and is certain to keep listeners well engaged in its own right. Of course as much depth as this concept adds to the record’s overall presentation, it is only one part of what makes Automata I another interesting new effort from BTBAM. The songs that make up the body of the record do their own part to make the album worth the listen.

Automata I is made up of only six songs. Again, this is nothing new for this North Carolina-based prog metal outfit. The songs’ musical and lyrical content combine expertly to make this record all the deeper. In regards to the musical aspect of the songs, the band — Tommy Giles Rogers, Jr. (vocals,keyboards), Paul Waggoner (lead a& rhythm guitar), Dustie Waring (lead & rhythm guitar), Blake Richardson (drums) and Dan Briggs (bass, keyboards) — has once again evolved from its previous records, giving audiences something new yet again. Case in point, the album’s opener, ‘Condemned to the Gallows.’ This song starts off very softly, but gradually builds on itself as it progresses, going from that softness to a solid wall of sound about forty-six seconds in. The addition of Rogers’ vocals and Richardson’s blast beats almost two minutes into the song builds up the song’s arrangement even more. The arrangement closes out ominously in order to build into the album’s second song, ‘House Organ,’ which displays just as much diversity as anything that the band has ever created. It does so without just rehashing any of its previous works, too. It has those heavy moments, and also has some more somewhat contemplative, keyboard-driven moments that, when coupled with Rogers’ vocal delivery, conjure thoughts of Dream Theater. The musical interest doesn’t stop there. The band reaches into a variety of realms in the arrangement of ‘Yellow Eyes’ all while Rogers’ black metal style vocal delivery sits atop the whole thing. As if all of that isn’t enough, ‘Millions’ boasts an arrangement that seems to cross 80s hair metal with, again, a seeming Dream Theater influence circa Awake. ‘Gold Distance,’ the record’s penultimate track conjures thoughts of the soundtrack to Disney’s Tron: Legacy, and at barely more than a minute, it is a nice momentary break for listeners. ‘Blot,’ which closes out the album takes listeners on just as incredible of a sonic ride as its predecessors. That ride is a solid finishing point, musically, to this half of Automata. Needless to say it definitely leaves listeners anxious to hear what the second half of the album will sound like this June when it is released. Of course, the album’s musical arrangements are only one part of what makes the songs so important to the album’s presentation. Their lyrical content is just as important as their musical content.

The lyrical content presented throughout the course of Automata I is just as deep as that of any of the band’s previous records (both concept and standard). As Rogers noted in a recent interview, “Lyrically, I wanted to write something that I treated as a puzzle until it comes together at the end. For as deep and dark as it is, there’s a positive outcome, which we’ve never had.” He goes on to explain the story centering on a man whose dreams are being used as entertainment for the masses and the album’s central figure thinking everything happening is real, when it isn’t. The journey does in fact start very dark in ‘Condemned to the Gallows,’ with the song’s subject in…well…a very dark situation. He sings here, “Gripping the brightest grid/A surgical drive to increase the noise/ice cold realization of the silent wind/slowly drags me up into a splintered reason/Emptiness engulf me.” He goes on to sing, “Align the love inside me/let misery awake me/Search low/Abandoned/The creaking floors cry out below/A limping glimpse of next steps/The fog showers the last light of day.” The story’s main character sees his descent continue from here, with his emotional and psychological state seeming to get worse with each song. That is especially obvious by the time the album reaches its closer, ‘Blot.’ The subject sings here, “All my pockets are full and my mind is lost/Circulate/The rear view keeps shifting as I stare at the sun…this is the beginning of my new life/I hope you enjoy the show/It’s for you, ya know?/To watch you from across the room/To hear you through the tangled lines/It completes me/I’ve been waiting.” It is a dark but so powerful moment in this story, and one more example of why the album’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical content, and why both of those elements are just as important as the story itself to this record. The album’s songs, as important as they are to its whole, are not the last of its most important elements. Its production is important, too.

The production work put in on BTBAM’s new album is key to its presentation because of how much is going on within each song. The album’s opener is proof of that importance. The way in which the song builds from its soft opening to the controlled chaos of its main body keeps everything in full balance. That says a lot considering how easy it would have been for the song to get bogged down in itself musically with so much going on. Much the same could be said of ‘House Organ.’ it starts out in full, controlled death metal chaos before eventually calming into a more Spock’s Beard-esque prog-rock sound as it progresses. All the way on to the album’s end, the attention put into each line brings out the album’s best, with the result being a fully immersive listening experience that will keep every listener engaged. Keeping this in mind, the expert production work on this album is its finishing touch. When it is joined with the depth of the songs that make up the record and the story itself, the whole of the album becomes a work that will appeal to every BTBAM fan just as much as it will to prog metal(and even metal) fan — a record that is in itself one of this year’s top new albums and that likely with its forthcoming companion, one of the year’s top new albums overall.

Automata I, the first half of BTBAM’s new album Automata, is in itself another solid new entry from the veteran progressive metal outfit. That is made obvious first and foremost through the story presented in this half of the album. The story presented here follows its subject as he descends into sleep and starts his dreaming. The songs used to tell that portion of the story do plenty to keep listeners engaged. The production at the center of those songs allows each member of the band to be highlighted, keeping any song from getting muddied down in themselves. Each element is important in its own right to the whole of Automata I. All things considered, they make this first half of Automata an entry that the band’s longtime fans will appreciate just as much as prog metal (and metal) fans. It is available now in stores and online. The band is currently touring in support of Auotmata I. It will be in Pittsburgh, PA tomorrow, Mach 30 to kick off the weekend before moving on to Philadelphia on Saturday and then to Albany, New York on Monday. More tour dates are listed online along with all of the band’s latest news and more information on Automata at:




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Prong Debuts ‘Forced Into Tolerance’ Video

Prong has unveiled its latest music video.

The veteran hard rock band on Monday, premiered the video for its latest single ‘Forced Into Tolerance.’  The video premiered via Blabbermouth.  Front man Tommy Victor said of the song in a recent interview that the song’s message is one of defiance against the powers that be.

“It’s our response to being told what to think and believe by everyone,” Victor said.

Courtesy: Steamhammer

He added the band appreciated partnering with Blabbermouth to debut the song’s video.

“Prong is happy to team with Blabbermouth to premiere the video for ‘Forced Into Tolerance’ from our latest album Zero Days!,” Victor said.  “It represents the no frills, in-your-face, relentlessness of the track.”

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

The video’s premiere comes only days ahead of the start of Prong’s upcoming west coast tour.  That tour is currently scheduled to launch March 29 in Phoenix, AZ and to run through April 8 in San Diego, CA with additional dates in Seattle, WA; Las Vegas, NV; Portland, OR and a trio of dates in California ahead of those Pacific Northwest dates.  Powerflo will serve as support for the tour, whose schedule is noted below.

PRONG with POWERFLO & Special Guests:
03/29 @ Club Red – Phoenix, AZ
03/30 @ Slidebar – Fullerton, CA
03/31 @ Slims – San Francisco, CA
04/02 @ The Ritz – San Jose, CA
04/03 @ Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
04/04 @ Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR
04/07 @ Backstage Bar – Las Vegas, NV
04/08 @ Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA

More information on Prong’s upcoming tour and its new video is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:






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