I Prevail’s Latest LP Is A Truly Intriguing Presentation

Courtesy: Fearless Records

Thanksgiving weekend is officially at its end and with it so is the North American leg of I Prevail’s tour in support of its latest album, True Power, which was released Aug. 19 through Fearless Records. The band is scheduled to take the rest of the year off before heading overseas to Europe in March for the tour’s next leg, beginning March 7 in Zurich, Sweden. Tickets for that tour are most assuredly Christmas presents for plenty of fans, while for lots of others, the band’s new album might actually be its own present. The 44-minute presentation is sure to appeal to the band’s established audiences, as well as more casual audiences. That is proven through its musical and lyrical content alike, as is proven in part through the early entry, ‘Body Bag,’ which will be discussed shortly. ‘Judgement Day,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another way in which the record’s musical and lyrical content comes together to make it worth hearing. It will be addressed a little later. ‘The Negative,’ which comes even later in the album’s run, is yet another example of how the album’s overall content comes together to make the record interesting. When it and the other songs noted here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the record worth hearing at least once.

True Power, the latest album from up and coming post hardcore band I Prevail, is an intriguing offering from the band. That is due to its combined musical and lyrical arrangements. The record’s musical arrangements bring together influences of Set It Off, Linkin Park, and Ice Nine Kills for a sound that is quite unique to say the least. It is a sound that oddly enough works as much as it would seem that it wouldn’t work. The lyrical themes that accompany that content makes for its own share of interest. ‘Body Bag,’ the record’s lead single, is just one example of how that combination makes an intriguing offering for audiences. The song’s musical arrangement opens with a distinct, heavy approach much in the vein of Slipknot what with its use of electronics alongside the guitar and drums and the screaming vocals. The use of the clean vocals alongside the screams makes for an interesting juxtaposition in itself that oddly enough, actually adds to the arrangement’s impact. The White Chapel-esque down-tuned crunching from the guitar in the break down adds even more to the whole.

The lyrical theme that accompanies that intense musical arrangement makes for its own interest here. That is because it comes across as that familiar message of being fed up with fake people, those ones who would rather live their lives in misery. This is inferred in the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state ,”There’s a million ******* reasons that you got it bad/But everybody’s leaving in a body bag/Go/Save your problems for somebody else who gives a damn/’Cause you won’t find me waiting at your promised land/No/Oh you think you got it bad?/I’m telling you to bite down and face it/You’re never gonna do much or change ****/When all you say is **** that and **** that/Don’t let them save you from yourself/Lights out/Embrace it/Your heart is beating faster/It’s racing/As we go on and on and on and on/Oh my God/Just shut your ******* mouth.” That content right there points to someone just being fed up with that other person being so miserable all the time and expecting others to cow tow to them. The second verse adds to that inference as it states, “Bring it down/Only one of us gets through/Two in/One out/And it’s not you/Run for your life/There’s nothing you can do/Necks snap when I show up/I say one word and it blows up/Run for your life/I’m taking what’s mine/and your time has come.” Now this imagery is somewhat violent, but that is all it is, imagery. This is not a threat of violence against anyone. Rather it is just some bravado meant to say that the subject is all business. It is kind of an over the top way to send such a message, but it is clear enough and is sure to appeal to certain audiences.

‘Judgement Day,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another of those strong, overly direct songs presenting a message of proud defiance. In the case of this song, the arrangement is a stark change of pace. Instead of the odd hybrid collection of influences, this song’s arrangement is a full on metalcore presentation. The screams and the intense energy from the instruments immediately envelopes audiences, not letting up until the song’s end as the song’s familiar theme of defiance is delivered.

This time, that defiance is against not one of those self defeatist types, as discussed in ‘Body Bag,’ but against society in general. This is inferred in the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “I walked into the darkness/I set myself on fire/I stared into heartless/And I found out death is a liar/So burn it all to ashes/Drown them all in acid/Say *** pleasing the masses/Don’t blink/I’m going beyond your understanding/Beyond the unimagined/Be honest/Are you ready or not/Let’s find out right now/Oh, destroy yourself/Welcome to the end/I don’t care about what they say/Everybody’s sorry on judgement day/Nothing’s gonna break me/I’ve got ice inside my veins/There’s gotta be a better way/There’s greatness in my DNA/You’ll get yours on judgement day.” There is that pride and confident defiance of society and its standards, clear and present. It continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “I was born on the path to nowhere/Cast out/Not a *** **** thing to prove/No home/No thoughts and no prayers/I’ve got nothing to lose/So **** it/Burn it all to ashes/Drown them all in acid/I’m done pleasing the masses/You’ll see/I’m going beyond your understanding/Beyond the unimagined/Be honest/Are you ready or not?” Again, here is that sense of self determination and simply not caring about what society thinks of the subject. It is a familiar theme that is certain to resonate with audiences both in that familiarity and in the way in which it was delivered.

‘The Negative’ is yet another song that tends to show what makes I Prevail’s new album worth hearing at least once. The song only clocks in at two minutes, 21 seconds, but the energy in the song’s arrangement makes it so interesting here. The more melodic moments that lend themselves to works from Set It Off make for such an interesting juxtaposition to the heavier Motionless in White-esque moments in the verses. Somehow that pairing of influences work as they help to illustrate the emotion in the song’s lyrical theme, which finds the subject battling with himself internally.

The battle is a mental health combat caused by himself and by external forces. This is inferred in the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “I’m so sick and tired of the negative/I’m on the edge tonight/Closer to the ledge/You were right/Lost in my head tonight/I’m spinning in circles/And I can’t get out/Running from these thoughts that I can’t say out loud/I’m so sick and tired of the negative/Black and white/You’re right/I’m ******* over it/Patience is paper thin/And something’s gotta give/I’m so sick and tired of the negative.” The inner turmoil is further illustrated in the song’s second verse, which states, “Well, damn/I guess you’re the perfect person/Same day but a different version/Paint the picture/But you don’t deserve it/Color’s fading underneath the surface/So wear black everywhere you go/No take backs at the end of the road/No last chance when the casket’s closed/Your silence is worth more than gold.” This is an illustration of that external force causing that inner battle. There are so many people out there like the one described here. To that end, it makes this part of the theme all the more resonant for listeners. When the whole is considered collectively, that inner battle that the subject fights as a result of it all makes it another fully accessible theme for the band’s target audiences. When it and the other themes examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s lyrical themes, the whole shows that much more, what makes the record’s lyrical (and musical) content so important. All in all, the overall content examined here makes True Power an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.

True Power, the latest album from I Prevail, is an interesting new offering from the up-and-coming post hardcore band. That is proven through its collective musical and lyrical themes, as is evidenced through the songs examined here. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes this record a presentation that is worth hearing at least once.

True Power is available now through Fearless Records. More information on the album is available along with all of I Prevail’s latest news at:

Website: https://iprevailband.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iprevailband

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.

Stratovarius’ ‘Survive’ Has Plenty of Staying Power

Courtesy: earMusic

Late this past September, veteran power metal band Stratovarius returned with what is now its 16th album in the form of Survive. Released Sept. 23 through earMusic, the record more than seven years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Eternal (2015). The new album’s release has given audiences reason to be excited as is. The recent announcement of a scheduled performance April 23 at Metal Fest alongside the likes of Kreator, Testament, and Accept in support of Survive has given audiences even more reason to be excited for the band. Survive is a welcome addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums and proves it was well worth the wait. This is proven in part through the record’s features musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements are just as important in the album’s appeal as its musical arrangements and will be examined a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered they make Survive another powerful offering from Stratovarius that is also among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.

Survive, the latest album from Stratovarius, is an impressive new offering from the veteran power metal band that will appeal to a wide range of hard rock and metal audiences, including the band’s established audience base. Its appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are once again a variety of fully engaging and entertaining power metal compositions for the most part. The only time when the band pulls back at all comes late in the record’s 57-minute run as the band makes its way through the contemplative opus, ‘Breakaway.’ Even in that moment, the contemplative approach is limited to the song’s verses. The choruses meanwhile are just as energetic and fiery as the rest of the album’s content. As with so much of Stratovarius’ existing work, the arrangements featured here immediately lend themselves to comparison to works from the likes of Sabaton, Visions of Atlantis, and Dragonforce in the best way possible. Stylistically, the arrangements are similar but in terms of the general sound, each song still boasts its own identity separate from those of the other noted bands and even from other songs that Satratovarius has crafted throughout its extensive catalog. To that end, the arrangements featured in this record are unquestionably important to this album.

The musical arrangements featured in Survive are just part of what makes the album appealing. The lyrical themes that accompany that content add even more to that appeal. That is because of their diversity and accessibility. Right from the record’s outset, the band delivers an uplifting, encouraging message of determination and perseverance in the album’s title track. The band noted in an interview about the song that it was inspired by everything that the band has been through over the course of its life and that it is by connection, a song about survival. Longtime front man Timo Kotipelto sings on the theme in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “I have seen the truth/I’ve seen it in my dream/I have found my voice/But don’t know what to say/Oh, I have lost my way/And no one’s here to find me/I loathe my loneliness/I hate the emptiness/I’m hanging on a wire/Ablaze and set on fire/Waiting for the crack to come/I snap and let it go/I fall through the darkness/About to lose it all/I fall against the odds/I played and lost it all/Saw the future/Now it’s gone/Only the strong will survive/I will try to find the strength inside/Only the strong will survive/I will not give up/As long as I’m alive/Only the strong will survive.” The self doubt and eventual determination exhibited here in the first verse and chorus is continued in the song’s second verse, furthering the encouragement to push on as Kotipelto sings, “An eternal road where demons go to die/Runs through this barren land/Where my madness lies/Have I now lost my mind/Am I mute, deaf and blind/I scream without a sound/I just can’t let it out.” From there, he returns to the chorus, which presents the noted determination of the song’s subject, reminding audiences once again that they can overcome those personal doubts. When this clearly delivered message of inspiration is paired with the song’s equally powerful musical arrangement, the message is delivered even more strongly, making for quite the impact.

The uplifting message delivered through the album’s opener/title track is just one example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. The seeming theme featured in the album’s midpoint, ‘We Are Not Alone’ continues to exhibit that importance. In the case of this song, the overall picture comes across as a theme of unity over divisiveness. It does this by reminding listeners how insignificant we as a race are in the universe. This is most clearly inferred in the song’s chorus as Kotipelto sings, “In the end/We’re the same/On a universal scale/The world moves on/We just have to go along/In the end/All we are/Is a speck of dust/Among the stars/And we all hope/That we’re not here all alone/We are not alone.” So again, what audiences get is a deep, welcome theme promoting unity against an interesting bigger discussion on whether there is intelligent life out there. It is a unique way of delivering such a familiar theme that makes the theme all the more engaging and entertaining here. The message is furthered in the verses as the song’s subject waxes existential about his place in the world, which we all do. This makes the theme even more accessible to audiences and further shows the importance of the album’s lyrical themes even more.

‘World On Fire,’ which comes even later in the album’s run, is yet one more example of the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes and its overall importance. In the case of this song, the band noted in an interview that it is a commentary about the impact that humans are having on the fate of the planet’s environmental status. The topic is illustrated throughout the song, beginning with its lead verse and chorus, which state, “Our world is on fire/Don’t you dare to close your eyes/It’s time to realize/We lost the game/And are to blame/Mankind will expire/Better start to think/’Cause the ship’s about to sink/The storm is here/The end is near/Our world is on fire/Every day we saw the signs/Every day we closed our eyes/Now we pay for every choice that we’ve made/This is the moment that defines/Is all we’ll ever leave behind/A world we betrayed/Our world is on fire/Destruction/Now burning/Our world is on fire/Warning/Now the heat is rising/There’s no returning/Our world is on fire.” That mention at the end of the chorus about the heat rising sounds like it could be a reference to the world’s overall temperature rising, a direct reference to human’s role in the natural process that is climate change. The mention of burning happening could be a reference to the wildfires that have charred so many thousands of acres of forests the world over in the century-plus. The direct finger pointed at the human race, saying humans closed our eyes in a damning but true indictment of human’s role in what has happened to the planet. That mention of this moment being that which defines what we leave for the next generations is a warning to humans that if we do nothing, there will be nothing to leave behind. It is a familiar overall theme that is clearly presented without being preachy. The second verse continues in similar style as the fist and the chorus. To that end, there is no real need to examine its content. Simply put, the overall theme here is its own, separate from the rest of the lyrical content presented in Survive and also hits hard through its accessibility. It even further shows the importance of the album’s lyrical themes as part of the record’s whole. When it and the other themes examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s lyrical content, the whole pairs with the album’s overall musical content to make the record’s overall content more than reason enough to hear this presentation.

While the content featured in Survive is unquestionably important to the album’s presentation, it is just part of what collectively makes the album so appealing. The production that went into the record’s production rounds out its most important elements. That is because it creates such a positive general effect. The production that went into the album ensured the vocals and instrumentations in each song were expertly balanced. The result is that there is zero problem understanding the lyrics being sung, and what’s more there is no problem actually hearing the vocals. At the same time, there is also no problem hearing the best of each band member’s performance. Each musician gets his own attention in each song to the end that every line comes together for a whole that is fully engaging and entertaining if only through its general effect. Of course as noted, the general effect is not all that this record has going for its presentation. That content examined works with the production thereof to make the album in whole a successful offering and new addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.

Survive, the 16th new album from Stratovarius, is a strong new offering from the veteran power metal band. The record’s success comes in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are another collection of powerhouse power metal compositions that are easily comparable to works from the likes of Sabaton, Visions of Atlantis, and Dragonforce. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are important to the album in its own way in their diversity and accessibility. The production that went into the album creates a positive general effect thanks to the attention and time spent balancing the vocals and instruments in each song. The positive general effect that results from that attention works with the album’s overall content to give audiences so much to enjoy here from start to end. The end result is that Survive becomes a record that will appeal equally to Stratovarius’ established audiences and hard rock and metal fans alike. They make Survive a record that will easily survive for the foreseeable future.

Survive is available now through earMusic. More information on the album is available along with all of Stratovarius’ latest news at:

Website: https://stratovarius.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/strato_official

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.

The Jorgensens’ ‘Americana Soul’ Is One Of This Year’s Sleeper Successes

Courtesy: Paramour Records

Early this month, independent music duo The Jorgensens released its latest album, Americana Soul through Paramour Records, which is distributed by none other than MVD Entertainment Group. The couple’s new, 33-minute album, is a joy from beginning to end. That is thanks to its diverse musical sounds and styles, and lyrical themes, each of which will be discussed in its own moment here. The sequencing of said content adds even more to the album’s overall appeal and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own right to this record. All things considered they make Americana Soul easily one of this year’s top new independent albums and potentially overall albums.

Americana Soul, the latest album from independent music duo The Jorgensens, is a record that will appeal to a wide range of audiences from the beginning of its 10-song run. The record’s appeal is due in no small part to the diversity in its musical arrangements. While the album’s title is Americana Soul, the arrangements present so much more than just Americana. Right from the album’s outset, ‘Old Black Crow,’ listeners get a simple arrangement that immediately lends itself to comparison to the blues rock stylings of the Allman Brothers Band, Derek Trucks Band, and others of that ilk, what with the guitar riffs and horns. ‘Miles,’ which immediately follows changes things up slightly with a touch of country blues. There is something about the horns and the arrangement’s overall swagger that also gives it a little bit of a soul touch, too. The whole makes it another Allman Brothers Band/Derek Trucks Band style work, but still holds its own identity separate from those acts’ work. ‘Boom Boom Boom,’ the album’s third entry, takes the album in a more distinctly blues/soul direction, conjuring thoughts of so much great Chicago style blues of days gone by while also giving the arrangement a nice modern touch in its subtlety. As the album continues to progress, things change again with the modern country blues tune, ‘Shake It.’ The use of the mandolin, cello, violin and drums makes this song its own engaging and entertaining composition. ‘Out Of My Mind,’ which immediately follows that song, conjures thoughts of so many great works from the likes of Carlos Santana and The Doobie Brothers. It is another great change of pace here that again is sure to keep listeners engaged and entertained. When all of this and the rest of the varied arrangements featured throughout the album are considered together, the whole makes for plenty of enjoyment for so many listeners.

The musical content featured throughout Americana Soul is just one part of what makes this latest offering from The Jorgensens so engaging and entertaining to so many listeners. The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical arrangements makes for its own enjoyment. ‘Dark Road’ is just one of the songs featured in this record that shows the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. Vocalist Kurt Jorgensen sings in this song of not letting himself go down a metaphorical dark road, in other words, the wrong path. The mention of falling to his knees and making sure he won’t travel this dark road no more makes that clear. It is a straight forward message in a lyrical theme that is all too familiar in the blues realm. Early on, Jorgensen even mentions hearing the devil behind him and getting lost along the way. It is a serious topic presented in a fully accessible fashion. The addition of the fun, infectious musical arrangement makes the theme all the more accessible.

On another note, ‘Boom Boom Boom’ is just as accessible in a totally different way. In the case of this song, the theme is a man celebrating his woman because of the positive effect that she has on him. He says he may not have fancy things like a big penthouse apartment or flashy car, but he has his woman and she enjoys something as simple as the music. It is a great tribute that any man can make for his woman, especially if she accepts him despite being a simple man.

‘State Line,’ which closes the album and is really the only song in this record that is pure Americana in sound and style, is also an interesting contemplative piece in terms of its lyrical theme. Brianna Jorgensen sings against the gentle, flowing string arrangement, about the past. “There was a time/When we got it right/It’s expired/Like candlelight,” she sings. That the song’s subject is driving along, thinking so introspectively gives the song so much depth and enriches the emotion in the lyrics so much. The combination of the moving, introspective lyrical theme (and its delivery therein) alongside the equally simple, moving arrangement makes the song in whole yet another work whose lyrics will connect with so many audiences. When it and the other themes are considered alongside the rest of the album’s lyrical content, the whole shows clearly why the record’s overall lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as the musical content that accompanies the lyrics.

There is no denying that the overall musical and lyrical content featured in Americana Soul touches on so many levels in the best way possible. The sequencing of that content brings the content together and finalizes the record’s presentation. From beginning to end of the record, the songs’ energies change just enough to keep things interesting, the whole beginning on an up note in ‘Old Black Crow.’ ‘Hey Baby,’ which comes just before the album’s midpoint, changes things noticeably but still keeps the record’s swagger moving in the almost ‘Fever’ type approach. Even as the songs progress and styles change, the energy remains stable throughout, giving audiences so much more to appreciate. The result of the thought and time put into the sequencing is a positive general effect that puts the album a welcome final touch. All things considered Americana Soul proves to be a welcome addition to this year’s field of new independent albums.

Americana Soul, the latest offering from independent music duo The Jorgensens, is a fully engaging and entertaining new release from the married couple that is also a welcome addition to this year’s field of new independent albums. The album’s appeal comes in part through its diverse musical arrangements. The arrangements, at times, lend themselves to comparison to works from the likes of the Allman Brothers Band and Derek Trucks Band. At others, there is some pure blues, and at others, more of a country music vibe. That diversity gives audiences reason enough to hear the album. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements are accessible in their own right. That is because of their familiarity in terms of their content. The sequencing of all of that content rounds out the most important of the album’s elements. That is because it keeps the album’s energy stable from start to end as the album progresses from one song to the next. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of Americana Soul. All things considered they make Americana Soul one more of the year’s top new independent albums.

Americana Soul is available now through Paramour Records. More information on Americana Soul is available along with all of The Jorgensen’s latest news at:

Website: https://thejorgensens.com

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

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.

Saint Asonia Scores Another Success With ‘Extrovert’ EP

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Hard rock super group Saint Asonia is keeping itself busy this year, and if the band’s scheduled winter 2023 tour schedule is any indication, it is going to be keeping itself busy into the new year, too. The band’s busy schedule started in July with the release of its debut EP, Introvert through Spinefarm Records. Its release was followed up last week, less than five months later, with the release of its second EP, Extrovert. The band is tentatively scheduled to release both EPs together next month in one complete package, less than two months after the band is scheduled to launch its next tour. Extrovert is another interesting offering from Saint Asonia that will appeal to audiences just as much as its companion record. As with Introvert, Extrovert‘s appeal comes in part through its musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical content are accessible in their own right, making for just as much appeal. They will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of Extrovert. All things considered they make Extrovert one more of this year’s top new EPs.

Extrovert, Saint Asonia’s second EP (and fourth overall studio recording behind the band’s two albums, Saint Asonia (2015) and Flawed Design (2019) ) is another largely successful offering from the band. The record’s success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements, which once are once again just as radio ready as any heavy melodic hard rock song that is run on America’s mainstream active rock stations. Just as in the case of the heavier works featured in Introvert, the arrangements in this EP boast a sound and style that is very similar to that of works from the likes of The Veer Union, Otherwise, and A Killer’s Confession. Even with those comparisons in mind, the songs here still boast their own identity separate from those bands’ works and from other worse that Saint Asonia has already crafted. Even in more contemplative moments, such as in ‘Better Now’ and ‘Over It’ the band still does not pull back but so much, but still manages to translate the emotion in the song’s lyrical theme so well through their musical arrangements without being too schmaltzy at any point. Keeping all of this in mind, the musical content that is featured throughout this EP does plenty in its own right to keep audiences engaged.

While the musical arrangements featured in Extrovert are positive additions to the EP in their own way, they are just part of what makes the record worth hearing. The lyrical themes that accompany the arrangements make for their own appeal. Case in point is the fully accessible theme featured in ‘Over It.’ This song finds front man Adam Gontier (ex-Three Days Grace) singing from the standpoint of a person battling an all too familiar inner battle with himself/herself. The person in this case is battling that sense of depression and doubt of self worth. That is clearly inferred as Goutier sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “I’m addicted to the pain that I’ve created for myself/Alone and on the outside/Always trying to be someone else/This weight on my shoulders/Where did I go wrong/My soul is so cold/And I hate what I’ve become/If I don’t find a way is it over/If I don’t blame myself is it gone/All of this time I’ve wasted/Or will I make it out from under this world before it falls/I’m over it all/I’m over it.” This is that clear sense of self doubt that so many people battle daily. Goutier continues the message in the song’s second verse as he sings, “I’ll admit that I’m ashamed/’Cause I’ve been lying to myself/My throne is rusted from the years/Of Living in this hell/I take so much ****/Is this where I belong/My heart is so charred/And I hate what I’ve become.” Yet again here is that inner battle that is so familiar to audiences. It seems quite melancholy on the surface, but on a deeper level, it is a theme that is certain to resonate with plenty of audiences. That is especially the case considering the manner of its delivery.

Another theme that is certain to resonate with audiences comes in Extrovert‘s opener, ‘Devastate.’ In the case of this song, there is a certain level of depth in its own right as The song’s subject seems to be addressing someone who is really his or her own worst enemy. In the process of being his or her own enemy, that person is apparently making others strongly dislike that person. There is even an inference that maybe that overall dislike was caused by addiction. The inference starts in the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “Down in the dark/You live on the bottom/You fooled them all/Looks like you got ’em/When all is lost/Who will you follow/When all the same **** will be here tomorrow/You fall for anything/All for nothing/You never cared for anyone at all/Well, I hate every word you say/Even when you breathe/I can’t stand to see you medicate/Fake/It’s all one and the same/Nothing to believe/All you ever do is devastate.” The seeming message is furthered in the song’s second verse, which states, “Nothing to use/End of the bottle/We fooled ’em all/Like a role model/No matter the cost/Beg, steal or borrow/’Cause all the same **** will be here tomorrow.” The message is finalized in the song’s breakdown, during which Goutier sings, “All your lies/Under your disguise/When the weight comes down/You’ll be underground.” Once more, what audiences seem to be getting here overall is that apparent theme of someone addressing another subject who is being fake not only to others but also to himself/herself and the impact thereof. It is not a unique theme, but still welcome and accessible to a wide range of audiences in its own right.

‘Better Now’ is another song that shows the accessibility of Extrovert‘s lyrical themes. In the case of this song, it is clearly that of a broken relationship and the aftermath on at least one side. This is made clear as Goutier sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Look at my face/I hope it haunts you ’till the end/You left me here for dead/when you walked away/How does it taste/To know that you were wrong/And now I get to watch you crawl/All the way back to me/Guess I let you get away with everything/Never called you out on anything/Had your back because you needed me/Now I’m standing here alone/Every time I think about it/You were a perfect mistake/Lesson learned/It was never forever/I can do better/Every time I think about it/Know that you were just in my way/Now I know/It was never forever/I can do better now.” This is unquestionably someone who is angry and deeply hurt by the result of that toxic relationship, yet who is also realizing he or she is better and is in the process of moving forward. It is a theme that will resonate with its own share of listeners. The realizations continue in the song’s second verse, which states, “Look at this place/Scattered with an empty silence/Every scream and every crisis/It stays with me/How can you face yourself/Knowing how you were so evil/Like poison in a needle/And the vein was me.” The overall revelation and reaction here will have such a powerful impact on plenty of listeners. It is just one more example of the importance of this record’s lyrical content. When this theme and the others examined here are considered along with the EP’s other themes, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the record’s lyrical content. When it and the record’s musical content are considered jointly, the whole makes for all the more engagement and entertainment for audiences.

The sequencing of that collective musical and lyrical content makes that engagement and entertainment even stronger. From beginning to end of the 20-minute record, the heaviness and energy barely lets up, even when it does pull back. Those subtle pull backs are expertly placed in the bigger picture of the arrangements. The lyrical themes change up just enough to keep audiences engaged and entertained, too. Clearly plenty of thought and time went into the sequencing, and the result was success there, too. The end result is a positive general effect that is enhanced through the overall content. All things considered, the sequencing and content together make Extrovert another strong addition to Saint Asonia’s catalog.

Extrovert, the latest addition to Saint Asonia’s catalog, is another strong offering from the band. The band’s fourth overall studio recording and second EP, it offers much for audiences to appreciate, beginning with the record’s musical arrangements. The heaviness and energy in each arrangement is once again ready for any active rock radio station. That is especially the case considering how similar the arrangements are in sound and style to so many of the band’s hard rock counterparts. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements are accessible in their own right, making for even more engagement and entertainment. The sequencing of that overall content rounds out the EP’s most important elements, completing its presentation. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the EP. All things considered they make Extrovert one of the best of this year’s new EPs.

Extrovert is available now through Spinefarm Records. More information on the record is available along with all of Saint Asonia’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://saintasonia.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/saintasonia

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/saintasonia

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

Type O Negative’s ‘Dead Again’ Gets Little New Life In Its Latest Re-Issue

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

When Type O Negative first released its seventh album Dead Again in 2007 through Steamhammer, the album proved the be the best performing record of the band’s career, debuting at No. 27 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. Ironically, the album would also end up being the band’s last, as former front man Peter Steele passed away three years later in 2010. The album’s success was likely due to the fact that the album saw such a noticeable change in the album’s arrangements, leaning in more directions throughout its body.
A year after its initial release, Steamhammer re-issued the album with a bonus DVD front loaded with bonus live content, interviews and music videos. Now 14 years after that re-issue’s release, Nuclear Blast Records is scheduled to re-issue the album again in a new anniversary presentation with much of the bonus live content featured in the 2008 re-issue. That bonus content being at the center of the album’s latest re-issue, it will be the focus of this review. The content itself is a positive and will be discussed shortly. The presentation of that content however, is somewhat problematic. This will be discussed a little later. The band’s performances of the songs is, together with the songs themselves a positive worth noting, too. It will be examined a little later, too. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make this latest re-issue of Dead Again leaving audiences honestly wanting for a little more.

Nuclear Blast Records’ forthcoming re-issue of Type O Negative’s 2007 album Dead Again is sadly, a celebration of an impressive album that does not do the record full justice in its new release. That is not to say that the record is a total loss. The bonus live content featured with the record is the primary reason that it survives. Totaling 10 tracks in all spread across more than an hour and 10 minutes, the bonus live performances featured here were largely carried over from the album’s 2008 re-issue from Steamhammer. The songs pull from almost all of the band’s albums up to that point, save for its 1991 debut album, Slow, Deep and Hard. In other words, the songs present a relatively clear cross section of Type O Negative’s catalog up to that point. The only difference between the content in that 2008 re-issue and this re-issue is that that Wacken content featured in that release was on DVD while it is strictly on CD in this case. So in short what audiences get in the bonus content is largely the same content featured in that 2008 re-issue. It means that audiences who did not get their hands on the 2008 re-issue will not be losing out, nor will those who did get the re-issue.

Now while the bonus content featured in this re-issue is a direct carry over from the 2008 re-issue of Dead Again, the presentation of the content is problematic. Maybe it is just this critic’s own audio equipment, but the audio mix of this content is a concern. Far too many times in each performance, it seems like Steele’s vocals are being washed out by the instrumentation. This happens both in the 2007 Wacken Festival performances and the other live performances. As a side note, it should be pointed out that there is no indication anywhere in the liner notes about where and when the other live performances were recorded, so that is another problem in itself. Getting back to the audio mix and production, the sound, again, is a concern. It leaves one wondering if the audio was already such an issue in the album’s 2008 re-issue. If it was and nothing was done, then someone definitely should be held accountable. If not, then someone should be held just as accountable for allowing it to be so muddied. It is enough to make a person want to skip through the songs just to see if the next song is any less messy.

As problematic as the sound issue is with the live content’s re-issue, it is not enough to doom the re-issue. To that end, there is still at least one more positive to note. That positive is the band’s performance of the live content. One thing that is indisputable from one live performance to the next is the dedication that the band put into each song. The band members give each song their fullest attention, ensuring audiences are fully engaged and entertained. What’s more, Steele’s playful banter with the audiences show just how laid back he was. It exemplifies why so many people respected him as a front man and person. The result of those positive performances is a general effect that together with the songs themselves, makes them worth hearing at least once. To that end, audiences who already own either the original 2007 release or its 2008 re-issue would be well advised to just hold onto those releases.

Nuclear Blast Records’ forthcoming 25th Anniversary re-issue of Type O Negative’s Dead Again is an interesting presentation. That is due entirely to its featured bonus live content. The bonus live content featured here is a direct carry over from the album’s 2008 re-issue. The only difference between the re-issues is that the Wacken 2007 performances were on DVD in the album’s 2008 re-issue and on CD in this re-issue. The fact that the same material was carried over ensures that no audience is left out regardless of whether they own the 2008 re-issue. The audio mix of the live content is problematic to say the very least. Far too often throughout the 10 total live performances, it seems like Peter Steele’s vocals were washed out by his band mates. That is not a stab at them by any means. Rather it is a concern on the side of those charged with ensuring the best possible audio quality in each performance. The band’s actual performances in each song works with the songs to make for at least a little more engagement and entertainment. The band’s performances themselves ensure audiences engagement and entertainment even despite the issue of the audio. That makes the bonus content at least somewhat appealing. However, it still does not eliminate the concern caused by the audio mix. To that end, this bonus content that accompanies Dead Again‘s latest re-issue does a little at best to fully celebrate what was and is one of the most important of Type O Negative’s albums if not its most important.

Dead Again is scheduled to be re-issued Friday through Nuclear Blast Records. More information on the album’s re-issue is available along with all of Type O Negative’s latest news at:

Website: https://typeonegative.net

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/typeonegative

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.

‘Lightwork’ Once Again Shows Why Devin Townsend Is Among Rock’s Elite Acts

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend has kept himself quite busy and his audiences just as happy in the past couple of years or so. Between the release of his then latest album, Empath in late 2019 and its re-issue less than a year later, and a live recording to accompany those two releases a year after that, Townsend has offered audiences quite a bit to enjoy. Now early this month, he has returned again with yet another new offering in the form of Lightwork. Released Nov. 4 through InsideOut Music, the 10-song record is everything that audiences have come to expect from Townsend, musically and lyrically. The record’s musical arrangements make for their own interest and will be examined shortly. The lyrical content that accompanies those arrangements is just as interesting and will be examined a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed a little later, too. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered they make Lightwork a shining addition to this year’s field of top new overall albums.

Lightwork, the latest studio recording from Devin Townsend, is a welcome addition to this year’s field of new overall albums and rock albums alike. It is everything that audiences have come to expect from Townsend. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question feature even more of the hybrid symphonic/experimental approach and sounds for which Townsend has come to be known throughout his career. They don’t necessarily break any new ground, as audiences got a healthy sampling of that approach and sound in Empath most recently. It is also an approach that he has taken as far back as his 1997 album, Ocean Master and at points after. The key here is that even with that familiar style in mind, the arrangements here still manage to hold their own identity separate from those other works. That even includes the works that he has composed under the moniker of Devin Townsend Project. To that end, the arrangements featured throughout this record make for plenty of appeal in their own right and form a strong foundation for the album.

Building on that foundation is the lyrical content that accompanies those arrangements. As usual, Townsend has presented lyrical content that speaks quite a bit in metaphors and such poetic fashion that each song presents such depth just in that avenue. Case in point is the early entry, ‘Call of the Void.’ The song comes across, lyrically, as a very contemplative work, as Townsend sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Shapeshifter to the weary-eyed/With nothing left/We take it all and run and hide/Take a walk down by the river/Revelations/Paranoia/And the thoughts that pull us under/Are they calling?/’Cause when you see the world’s insane reaction/To follow your heart/The worst reaction is to freak out/So don’t you freak out.” It is almost as if Townsend is addressing the effect that the world has on a person and reminding listeners to take on those thoughts and feelings in a calm manner so to speak. He seems to be reminding audiences that what they are thinking and feeling is normal, and in connection, they can control their own situations despite the outside world. This is especially inferred as he sings in the song’s brief second verse, “Collide into your interior/You doubted for so long/It took control.” He further adds in the chorus’ refrain, “‘Cause when you feel the urge to feign reaction/Just follow your heart/The worst reaction is to freak out/So don’t you freak out.” Again, this further seems to illustrate a message of hope and positive vibes. If in fact that seeming positive message is what Townsend is trying to deliver, then he has succeeded in so doing. The gentle musical arrangement that accompanies that seeming message makes it all the more powerful and moving in its delivery. The whole makes the song its own standout addition to the album.

‘Moonpeople,’ which opens the album, is another notable addition to the record, in regards to its lyrical content just as much as its musical arrangement. Townsend said of the song during a recent interview, that is it in fact a contemplative work. He said that the song’s lyrics that they are al allusion to someone looking forward while also looking backward.

“Post pandemic…kids are now teens…50 years old, who am I now?,” he said. “Beyond any platitudes or delusions, who am I now that the smoke is clearing and what do i want to do, and who do I want to be moving forward?”

He added the to him, ‘moonpeople’ are introverts; those people who would rather watch things happening rather than interact.

Townsend’s comments are illustrated through the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “Ode to the unknown/If we’re gonna face it alone/Don’t trust the fearing/of revealing/Off to the unknown/I’ve often wandered alone/It don’t bother men/Talk the talk/You’ll find there’s no place in the city/Let the moon clear slowly on your day.” He adds in the song’s second verse, “Ode to the unknown/We’re gonna take the high road/Though what is appealing/Is the act of disappearing/Stop it/Walk the walk/You’re finally free from it all/Let the mood keep clearing for today/Moon people challenge the ways of the sun/But the Earth moves for you, babe/So breathe now.” Again, here is that poetic, metaphorical language for which Townsend has come to be known. Even with the understanding of the song’s theme, the very approach taken here is sure to generate its own share of interest among audiences. To that end it is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.

‘Celestial Signals,’ another later entry in the album’s run, is yet another example of the importance of its lyrical content. Yet again, Townsend sings in metaphors here, leaving plenty of room for interpretation. He sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “You know where to find me/In my room at night as I retire/Say you’ll find me/redefine me/Awake again/No Shangri-La/No change at all/You’re like a butterfly/Caught in the middle/You’re like a star/Oh, when all we do/Cries out with all that’s true/Never regret for a minute/Now all is new.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Pain, are you here to remind me/No Shangri-la/No shame in failure” before adding in the chorus’ refrain, “We’ll never regret for a minute/When all is new/Just say your goal/When all we do/Cries out with all that’s true/We’ll never regret for a minute/When all is new.” The whole of this content paints a progressing story of sorts, starting out as someone who maybe feels alone and is asking for someone to reach out. Eventually in the second verse and chorus refrain, that person seems emotionally stronger after being told in the pre-chorus to “hold on” because “when all we do/Cries out with all that’s true/We’ll never regret for a minute.” It really all comes across as a message of hope. That is at least this critic’s interpretation. Whether the inferred theme is the case or something else, the fact of the matter is that the depth that Townsend uses here is certain to lead to its own share of discussion among audiences, just as with so many of the album’s other songs. Keeping all of this in mind, there is no doubt that the overall lyrical content plays its own pivotal role to the album’s presentation. It is still not the last of the album’s most important elements. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.

The production that went into the album’s presentation is important because it clearly showed the attention that was given to each arrangement. From the smallest nuances to the fullest orchestral arrangements, it is clear that painstaking efforts were taken in the production to make sure each song’s instrumentation was expertly balanced. What’s more it ensured those expertly balanced instrumentations also brought forth the fullest emotional impact on listeners. Those painstaking efforts paid off all the way around. The result of that work is a general effect that makes the album all the more enjoyable if only for that item. Thankfully that item is, as noted, hardly the only important element here. When it is considered alongside the album’s musical and lyrical content alike, the whole makes Lightwork one of the best of this year’s new overall albums.

LIghtwork, the latest new album from veteran musician Devin Townsend, is another impressive new offering from a figure who is one of the greatest minds of the current musical era. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements do not necessarily break any new ground for Townsend, but still boast their own unique identity separate from the works in Townsend’s other most recent albums. The album’s lyrical content is certain to generate plenty of discussion among listeners because of its depth and general presentation. The production that went into the album’s presentation rounds out its most important elements and completes the presentation. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of Lightwork. All things considered they make the album a complete success that is among the best of this year’s new albums.

Lightwork is available now through InsideOut Music. More information on the album is available along with all of Devin Townsend’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.hevydevy.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/dvntownsend

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

Sony Music, Experience Hendrix LLC Release Another Essential Jimi Hendrix Experience Live Recording in ‘Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969’

Courtesy: Sony Music, Experience Hendrix LLC

Some music acts out there are better on their studio recordings than their live shows.  For others, the exact opposite is the case.  And then there are still others that amazingly are just as good on their albums as on stage.  The Jimi Hendrix Experience is in the latter category. While the trio was only together for a short time ­– only a few years – the band’s records and concerts remain some of the greatest in the modern history of music.  The band’s brand new live recording, Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 is no exception to that rule.  Set for release Friday through Sony Music, Experience Hendrix, LLC, the 11-song concert is just as much an essential for any Hendrix fan’s collection as its most recent live predecessor, Live in Maui (2020).  That is due in large part to the featured set list and the trio’s performance thereof.  This will be discussed shortly.  The companion booklet that accompanies the recording building on the foundation formed by the concert and makes this recording even more enjoyable.  That is because of the liner notes therein.  This will be examined a little later.  The recording’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and brings everything full circle.  It will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969.  All things considered they make this recording easily one of the best new live CDs released so far this year.

Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, the latest archived Jimi Hendrix Experience live show to see the light of day, is yet another essential addition to the library of any Hendrix fan.  That is due in no small part to its featured set list and the trio’s performance thereof.  The concert’s set list spans 11 songs and 79 minutes (one hour, 19 minutes) and features a hand full of songs which audiences had come to know at that time (and that are still beloved to this day) while also including some lesser-performed songs, such as ‘Spanish Castle Magic,’ ‘I Don’t Live Today’ and ‘Tax Free,’ which opens the concert.  Yes, Hendrix and his fellow musicians – drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding – played ‘Tax Free’ many times, but few of the group’s live recordings feature performances of the song.  To that end, it is correct to say that the song is lesser performed.  What’s more, the overall set list featured in this concert was, as noted in music journalist Randy Lewis in the recording’s second set of liner notes (this will be discussed a little later), an example of Hendrix being more concerned simply with a set list, not which songs from the trio were popular and charting at the time.  It really is an example that few bands today follow when they tour.  To that end, this set list is such a joy in its own right, giving audiences something familiar and lesser so.

Staying on the topic of the concert itself, the collective performance put on by Hendrix and company makes the show even more enjoyable.  That is because it proves to be so natural and “organic.”  Jimi seems to relaxed as he tries to get the audience at the famed forum to not rush the stage, actually noting at one point that the band couldn’t perform until the crowd settled down.  The trio’s performance of ‘Tax Free’ lasts more than 15 minutes (15 minutes, 34 seconds to be exact), with much of it being a jam session.  The band takes the same style approach through each song that follows, simply enjoying being in the moment and bringing the audience into the moment.  The result is a general effect between the songs and performances thereof that makes for so much engagement and entertainment for audiences.

The content featured in this recording is itself more than reason enough for audiences to own the concert.  It is just one part of what makes the recording so deserving of applause, too.  The companion booklet that accompanies the recording builds on the foundation formed by the concert and makes for even more enjoyment and engagement.  That is because it features not just one but two separate sets of liner notes.  The first set of liner notes was crafted by ZZ Top front man/bassist/founder Billy F. Gibbons and the second by Lewis.  As already noted, Lewis points out in his writing, that the concert featured in this recording was an example of Hendrix caring less about which of the band’s songs were performing well on the charts and simply being more in the moment and making the concert enjoyable for everyone.  The jam sessions that grow out of each song make that completely clear.  Lewis also points out in his notes, The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s performance at the Forum was important because prior to its presentation the only rock acts that had preceded the group’s came from Deep Purple, Cream, and The Doors.  Prior to those concerts (and that of The Jimi Hendrix Experience), the Forum’s concerts were much more in another direction in terms of genre.  Audiences will be left to find out more about that topic for themselves when they buy this recording. 

Gibbons’ liner notes meanwhile offer their own engagement and entertainment.  Gibbons reminisces at one point in his comments, about having actually been there at the Forum for the band’s show.  He writes in his liner notes that Hendrix actually came back stage after the concert and asked Gibbons what he thought of the show.  Gibbons’ response in his recollection is humble and in its simplicity, shows the respect that even someone of Gibbons’ status had and has even today for Hendrix as a person and musician.  Gibbons also points out his amazement at and respect for Hendrix’s talents on the guitar, writing, “What unfolded thereafter was firsthand evidence of how Jimmy Hendrix had figured out how to do things on a Fender Stratocaster that had obviously never been imagined by its designers.”  That is a strong statement of pure respect from one now famous musician to one who remains among the most influential in the music community in whole.  It is just one more of so many insights shared by Gibbons that make his comments just as entertaining and engaging as those crafted by Lewis.  Gibbons even shares a brief anecdote about Hendrix requiring a record player in any hotel room where he stayed.  That is one more story that audiences will be left to enjoy for themselves when they buy this recording and even more example of the importance of the recording’s liner notes.  When the comments shared by Gibbons and Lewis are considered collectively, they make the overall liner notes even more reason for Hendrix fans to own this recording.

The production that went into this concert recording rounds out its most important elements.  That is because it surprisingly immerses audiences in the experience, making listeners really feel like they are right there.  The production isn’t some spit-shined presentation.  It is raw and organic.  Audiences can hear the audience noise “in the distance” while the band’s performance sounds so natural.  There is a certain richness and warmth to the sound quality in its approach.  It is a tribute to those who were charged with bringing the master tapes back to life for this presentation.  The result of the overall audio production is a positive general effect here, too.  Keeping that in mind, the effect of the production pairs with the effect of the band’s performance and the set list itself to make the whole a complete presentation that every Jimi Hendrix fan and rock fan will find enjoyable.

Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, the brand new live recording from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, is another thoroughly enjoyable presentation from the band, even with the band no longer being around.  It is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That is due in no small part to its featured set list and the band’s performance thereof.  The set list features plenty of familiar songs and some that are less common place on live Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings that have already been released.  The band’s performance of said set list feels so natural that it makes for its own enjoyment.  The liner notes featured in the recording’s companion booklet make for even more entertainment and engagement.  That is because of the background that they offer from both Gibbons and Lewis.  The recording’s production creates a sound quality that is organic and natural in its own right that makes for its own immersion in the experience.  Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of this recording.  All things considered they make Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 one more of the best of this year’s new live CDs if not the best so far.

Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 is scheduled for release Friday through Sony Music and Experience Hendrix, LLC. More information on Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969 and other Jimi Hendrix releases is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.jimihendrix.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/JimiHendrix

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/JimiHendrix

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

‘The Legacy’ Is A Fitting Tribute To U.D.O.’s Legacy

Courtesy: AFM Records

This Friday, veteran hard rock band U.D.O. will release its latest studio recording, The Legacy through AFM Records.  The band’s third compilation set, it is the most comprehensive collection of songs from U.D.O.’s expansive catalog that the band has released so far.  That is due primarily to its featured songs, which will be discussed shortly.  The songs’ production makes for its own interest and will be discussed a little later.  The collection’s average price point rounds out its most important elements, considering the content and its production.  To that point it will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection.  All things considered they make the collection a must have for any U.D.O. fan.

The Legacy, the new compilation from U.D.O. is a collection that truly pays honor to the band’s legacy and that of its famed front man.  That is due in no small part to the songs that make up its body.  The collection features 33 songs spread across two separate discs inside a relatively ergonomically designed jewel case.  Every single one of U.D.O.’s 16 total albums is represented here, beginning with the band’s most recent album, Game Over (2021).  The majority of the albums get two songs as the band takes audiences back through its catalog, and as an added bonus, there are even some bonus songs that were only included in the Japanese pressings of some of the band’s albums.  So to that point, audiences get a little something extra along with what is a complete career retrospective for U.D.O.  The collection goes all the way back to the band’s debut 1987 album, Animal House, simply giving audiences so much to appreciate from beginning to end.

The foundation formed by the compilation’s featured songs is strong to say the very least.  Building on that foundation is the songs’ production.  It is unknown at this point if the songs were remastered for this collection or if audiences get the original recordings here.  There is no mention of this item in the press release announcing the compilation’s release.  That aside, the production in each song is top notch. The balance between Dirkschneider’s vocals and the instrumentation from his band mates brings out the best of each musician in itself and among the group in whole.  The result is a general effect throughout the record that is certain to keep listeners fully engaged and entertained from beginning to end.  When this aspect is considered along with the collection’s featured songs, that whole makes for more than enough reason for audiences to applaud this collection.

Considering the impact of The Legacy’s content and its production, its average price point process to be worth paying.  The only major American retailers that have the record listed at the time of this review’s posting are Amazon and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  They list the record at $20.98 and $20.99 respectively.  Their prices make an average price point of $20.99.  That means that for American audiences, those two separate listings are right at the average.  Pre-orders are available through AFM Records, but only in Euros.  AFM Records lists the record at 14.99 Euros.  That is equivalent to $15.58 in American dollars, essentially making it the least expensive listing for American audiences should there be some kind of conversion.  That number brings the average price point to $19.18.  So again, the price for this collection really is not overly expensive, regardless.  That is at least at this point.  Should other retailers add the album any time soon, that could change.  Until or unless that happens, it is easy to say that the separate and average prices for this collection are just as positive to the presentation as the collection’s content.  Keeping all of this in mind, The Legacy proves to be a complete tribute to the legacy of U.D.O.

The Legacy, the new compilation from U.D.O., is among the best of this year’s compilation records and a presentation that every U.D.O. fan will welcome.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs.  The 33 songs that make up the record’s body make for a thorough retrospective of the band’s catalog.  New and long-time fans alike will welcome such an expansive presentation.  The songs’ production adds its own touch to the compilation’s presentation.  That is because of the expert balance between the songs’ vocals and instrumentations.  The balance between the two sides makes for a positive general effect. Considering the album’s content and production therein rounds out the album’s most important elements and finishes its presentation.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the collection’s presentation.  All things considered they make the compilation a solid tribute to the legacy of U.D.O.

The Legacy is scheduled for release Friday through AFM Records.  More information on the collection is available along with all of U.D.O.’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.udo-online.de

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/udoonline

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.

‘Another Laurie Berkner Christmas’ Is A Welcome Musical Gift For The Whole Family

Courtesy: Two Tomatoes

It’s beginning to look (and sound) a lot like Christmas again, and this year, it sure seems like it’s happening even sooner than ever.  Maybe that is just this critic’s own interpretation.  TBS and TNT have already started running holiday programming to apparently compete with Hallmark.  The ads for the holiday sales in stores are already on TV, too, and the holiday tunes are already pumping on some radio stations nationwide.  For many, it’s an overdose so to speak.  For those who would rather wait until after Thanksgiving, it is possible to avoid it all at least to a point. For everyone else, it’s there.  Regardless of which side one takes on the “great debate” there is one thing to which both sides can agree, and that is that there are at least some positives to the annual entertainment options each year.  This year, one of those options is family music entertainer Laurie Berkner’s new record, Another Laurie Berkner Christmas.  The 18-song record is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining new offering from the veteran musician and performer.  That is due in large part to its featured songs.  The songs in question are a blend of covers and originals.  The covers are of note for their own right and will be discussed shortly.  The covers are just as of note and will be discussed a little later.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out the record’s most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered they make Another Laurie Berkner Christmas one of the rare welcome compilations of holiday music released so far this year.

Another Laurie Berkner Christmas, the new holiday music compilation from family music entertainer Laurie Berkner, is a rare diamond in the rough so to speak of this year’s annual flood of holiday music collections.  That is thanks to its combination of covers and originals.  The covers are of note because they are themselves a mix of commonly and not so commonly tackled works.  Among the more familiar, overly common covers featured in this collection are the likes of ‘Winter Wonderland,’ ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ and ‘Deck The Halls.’  Alongside those works are a surprisingly enjoyable take of Handel’s timeless ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ an equally  surprisingly enjoyable ‘Here We Come A-Wassailing’ and ‘What Child Is This (Greensleaves)’.  In regards to the more commonly covered pieces, they are enjoyable because Berkner and her fellow musicians do not go the same route as so many other acts.  For instance, instead of the way too happy happy joy joy approach that so many acts have taken to ‘Winter Wonderland,’ Berkner and company take a much simpler approach to the song.  The layered vocals in the opening bars and the simple use of the keyboard and drums give the song a certain innocence in the overall simplicity.  That innocence and simplicity makes this arrangement so surprisingly endearing; so much more so, honestly, than so many other takes that other more well-known acts have composed.  The almost country music vibe that Berkner and company gave to ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ is surprising in its own right yet somehow so enjoyable, too because it is so simple and different from so many other takes on the song.  In the case of the less covered but still familiar ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s Messiah, the layered vocals here really give the song that familiar choral effect to which so many audiences are familiar.  What’s more Berkner really uses this song as a moment to put her full talent on display as a vocalist and succeeds so well.  The controlled use of the trumpets alongside the vocals here add even more depth to the arrangement even being so simple overall.  The whole makes this its own unique cover that when considered along with the other covers examined here and with the rest of the covers, makes that mass so fully engaging and entertaining.  They collectively form a solid foundation for this record.

The originals that Berkner and company feature as part of the record’s body build on that foundation and strengthen this record’s presentation all the more.  One of the most notable of the collection’s originals comes in the form of ‘I Live Inside A Snowglobe (Shake It Up)’.  This song comes early in the album’s run and presents Berkner’s trademark kindie pop sound with its mid-tempo approach.  The use of the shaker directly alongside Berkner as she sings, “Shake it up” is such a fun part of the song.  The steady rim knocks on the snare drum alongside the guitar and keyboard in the verses collectively keep the song moving and engaging. 

On another note, the steady guitar line at the center of the original, ‘Icicles’ is its own unique presentation.  The rounds that are used through the layering of Berkner’s vocals here join with that simple guitar line to make the arrangement even more intriguing.  That steady, almost gliding effect from the guitar creates that image of icicles forming on trees, eaves on houses and other items.  It does so well to illustrate the old adage the less is more.  To that end Berkner is to be highly commended here, too. 

The light, silly approach taken in ‘Time To Eat – Holiday’ is another example of Berkner’s trademark kindie music.  In the case of this song, the use of the repetition makes the song most appealing to Pre-K age children.  The simple musical approach meanwhile will make it appealing to audiences of all ages.  It is just one more example of how much the originals in this collection play into the overall presentation.  When the originals are considered alongside the compilation’s covers, the whole makes the set’s body a fully enjoyable holiday presentation that the entire family will find enjoyable.

As much as the overall content does to make Another Laurie Berkner Christmas enjoyable, it is just part of what makes the record worth hearing.  The sequencing of that content does its own part to make the record enjoyable. From beginning to end, the record’s sequence keeps the compilation’s energy relatively stable even as the songs’ sounds and styles change.  Case in point is the immediate change between ‘Holly Jolly Christmas,’ which opens the record and its immediate follow-up, the cover of ‘Good King Wenceslas.’  The two songs are so different in their sounds and styles, yet the transition works surprisingly well.  The energy picks right back up again in ‘I Live Inside a Snowglobe (Shake It Up)’ with its more pop style approach and sound. The group’s take of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ changes things again stylistically yet the energy remains just as stable here, thus keeping things interesting.  Things continue on from there right to the albums end without fail as each song gives way to the next.  The result is a record that, again, the whole family will find surprisingly enjoyable.  They will find the compilation a surprising diamond in the rough of this year’s field of new holiday music sets.

Another Laurie Berkner Christmas, the new holiday music collection from family music entertainer Laurie Berkner, is a surprisingly welcome addition to this year’s field of new holiday music compilations.  That is due in large part to its collected songs.  The songs are a stable mix of originals and covers.  The covers are themselves a blend of songs that are pretty commonly covered and some that are not as commonly covered by most mainstream music acts.  What’s more, the way in which Berkner and her fellow musicians take on the covers makes each one unique in its own way and in turn, engaging and entertaining.  The originals are interesting in that they present so much of Berkner’s familiar kid friendly sounds and styles while still appealing in their own way to older audiences.  The sequencing of that content rounds out the record’s most important elements.  That is because of its ability to keep the compilation’s energy stable throughout its run.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to this compilation.  All things considered they make Another Laurie Berkner Christmas a true musical gift to the entire family this holiday season.

Another Laurie Berkner Christmas is available now.  More information on the compilation is available along with all of Laurie Berkner’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.laurieberkner.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/LaurieBerknerBand

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/LaurieBerkner

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.

Joe McCarthy And Company’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’ Cover Is A Unique Take On A Classical Composition

Courtesy: DL Media

It goes without saying that composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the greatest musical minds in history.  His compositions remain among some of the most timeless.  From his beloved “Romeo and Juliet Overture” to his “1812 Overture” (which by the way, has nothing to do with America’s Independence Day – it focuses on the Russian military’s defense of Moscow against Napoleon’s forces at the Battle of Borodino in 1812) to his equally timeless “Nutcracker Suite” and more (including his “Symphony No. 2), Tchaikovsky created what are some of the most legendary works of classical music (and music) of all time.  Ironically, the “Nutcracker Suite” is historically one of the compositions that he disliked the most if not the one that he most disliked as well as the ballet for which he wrote the music.  Yet the ballet and composition have gone on to become beloved the world over.  It has been covered by countless orchestras and other musical acts across the musical universe including most recently, Joe McCarthy’s New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band.  The group released its take on “The Nutcracker Suite” in September in the form of The Pan American Nutcracker Suite.  The eight-song presentation is a unique take on the classic composition because of its take on the work that will appeal to a very targeted audience.  Some of the arrangements work better than others and vice versa, making the overall presentation worth hearing at least once.  Among the most notable of the record’s covers is ‘March,’ which is a take on the original suite’s ‘March of the Toy Soldiers.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  Also of note is the group’s take of the suite’s ‘Arabian Dance.’  This cover will be discussed a little later.  The group’s take of ‘Waltz of the Flowers,’ which closes the record, is another unique presentation here and will also be addressed later.  Each song noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  When they are considered along with the rest of the record’s body, the whole makes Pan American Nutcracker Suite far from the best ever take on Tchaikovsky’s timeless composition, but also not the worst, either.

The Pan American Nutcracker Suite, the new complete cover of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’ is one of the most unique takes on what is one of the timeless musical composition of all time.  It is neither the best take on the classical composition nor the worst, either.  That is due to the intriguing Afro-Latin tinged takes on what are anything but those works, stylistically.  One of the most interesting takes on this record is the take of the suite’s ‘March of the Toy Soldiers’ movement.  The original composition is a wonderful classical composition, and McCarthy and his fellow musicians do well to pay homage to that work in the cover’s “A” section.  The “B” section however takes the soldiers that audiences can clearly see marching in form in the original and creates visions of them dancing wildly as they march.  It is a take that is unique to say the very least that will appeal to a very specific audience.  The energetic piano and saxophone solos that kick in through the cover is enjoyable.  There is no denying that, and they serve to give the cover its own identity, but even with that in mind, it completely changes the mood and identity of what Tchaikovsky created so long ago.  Keeping all of this in mind, the song has both its pros and cons and makes it at least one intriguing part of the album.

Another unique addition to McCarthy and company’s take on ‘The Nutcracker Suite’ and somewhat more enjoyable, is the group’s take of the suite’s ‘Arabian Dance’ movement.  The use of the Afro-Latin percussion and the horns feels and sounds somewhat uncomfortable yet it actually works in a bizarre way thanks to the fact that the group stays true to its source material for the most part.  That also includes the dynamic control and stylistic approach.  Even at moments when the cover does start to pick up in terms of its tempo, it still stays true to its source material.  The solo from what sounds like a soprano saxophone even works in this case and makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment.  This even as it gets a little too wild as the song nears its end.  Overall though, the cover is one of the most notable of the record’s works.

Another notable addition to this cover of Tchaikovsky’s famous composition comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Waltz of the Flowers.’  This is another work that completely turns its source material on its ear.  Yes, there are hints of the original work thrown in, but elements, such as the muted trumpets and the Afro-Latin percussion and the overall big band approach instead makes this song sound like its own work.  Interestingly enough that is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is just a unique take on the song that at least does not turn it in such a direction that it makes it unlistenable (is that a real word?).  That is because it does at least try to pay some homage to its source material.  When this song is considered alongside the others examined here and with the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes Pan American Nutcracker Suite a take on a Tchaikovsky classic that is neither the best nor the worst update on the timeless composition.

The Pan American Nutcracker Suite, the new Afro-Latin tinged take on Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’ is a unique take on the timeless classical music composition.  It is a presentation that will appeal to a very targeted audience, as the arrangements featured throughout this record show.  Some renditions work better than others and vice versa.  The record overall is neither the best nor the worst take of the opus that has ever been crafted and deserves to be heard at least once.  It is available now.

More information on The Pan American Nutcracker Suite is available along with all of Joe McCarthy and company’s latest news at:

Website: https://joemccarthymusic.com

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

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