Sonic Syndicate Releases ‘Confessions” Final Single

Courtesy: Despotz Records

Courtesy: Despotz Records

Sonic Syndicate has released more new music.

The band released the single ‘Still Believe (ft. Madyx)’ this week.  The song is the third and final single from the band’s 2016 album Confessions.  Audiences can hear the song online now here.

Front man Nathan J. Biggs called working on the song a special experience, adding working with alt pop singer Madyx (a.k.a. Michelle Blanchard) on the song made it even more special.  Blanchard won UMA’s “Best International Music Video” Award in 2016 for her video for ‘Some Kisses.’  The song is also on British Airways’ “Ones To Watch” playlist on each of its flights.

“Working on the song fulfills my ambition of hearing harmonies and alternate leads performed together with a female voice,” Biggs said. “So to get the chance to do this on Confessions was something not only brand new for us, but a big accomplishment, and to do it with such a sparky, talented girl like Madyx who really connected with the lyrics on a personal level made it even more special.  It turned a good song into a unique song that stands out on the record.”

Biggs said the songs make it so unique because of the topic presented within those words.

“The lyrics are about a long distance relationship, a couple reminiscing about their time together on different continents, how the vibe of each city flavored their love for one another,” Biggs said.  “However, as the song goes along we realize it’s not just heartache due to miles apart, the guy is talking to a girl who has passed away and she is replying from beyond the grave.  It’s beautiful, tragic and haunting.  But I think true love can even survive death.”

‘Still Believe’ can be downloaded now via iTunes and streamed online now via Spotify.  Sonic Syndicate will hit the road in March with Amaranthe to support ConfessionsConfessions can be ordered online now direct via Despotz Records’ webstore.  More information on Confessions is available online now along with all of Sonic Syndicate’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.sonicsyndicate.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pg.SonicSyndicateBand

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SoSyOfficial

 

 

 

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Set It Off Shows Telling “Stories” Can Be A Good Thing

December is nearly halfway through. That means that 2015 is inching ever closer to its final days. As those days become fewer and fewer, it means more certainty for the critics’ year-enders. This critic has held off as long as possible. But now the lists are final. And there are a lot of them, too. Beginning today, Phil’s Picks will feature one new “Best Of” list each day right up to New Year’s Eve. Each list presents not only the ten best new releases in each given category but five extras that get special recognition for a total of fifteen titles. So let’s get things going. Without any further ado, here is the first of those lists, 2015’s Best New EPs. So few people give EPs the credit that they so rightly deserve. But the reality is that for many acts EPs are just as important as LPS. For many acts, the EP is the very first taste of what may or may not be to come for a band. For others it’s more or less a contractually obligated space filler. Regardless of the situation, the fact of the matter is that the EP is just as important as the LP. That being the case, this critic has compiled once again a list of the year’s best new EPs. And this year, that list is topped by Set It off and its new EP Duality: Stories Unplugged. Independent rock act Lawless Hearts make the list, too with its new EP Creatures of Habit as well as Amaranthe with its acoustic EP Breaking Point: B-Sides 2011 2015. These are just a handful of the names to make the list this year. The complete list of this year’s best new EPs as presented by Phil’s Picks is noted below.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 BEST NEW EPs

  1. Set It Off — Duality: Stories Unplugged
  2. Adrenaline Mob — Dearly Departed
  3. Zebrahead/Man on a Mission – Out of Control
  4. Patent Pending – Armageddon
  5. NoMara — …And So It Begins
  6. Lawless Hearts – Creatures of Habit
  7. Amaranthe – Breaking Point: B-Sides 2011 2015
  8. Nation Beat – Carnival Caravan
  9. De’Anza – Despertar
  10. The Devil Wears Prada – Space
  11. Galley Beggar – Silence and Tears
  12. Broadcasters – Spin
  13. Infidel – Infidel
  14. Collie Buddz – Blue Dreamz
  15. Straight Line Stitch – Transparency

 

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Amaranthe Announces New EP, Video On the Way; Fall Tour Still On

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Amaranthe will release a special treat for its fans later this month just in time for Halloween.

The members of Amaranthe announced recently that the band will release a new compilation record for its fans later this month. The record, Breaking Point: B-Sides 2011 – 2015, will be released on Friday, October 30th. While it is a great treat for fans, there is a little trick involved here, too. The eight-track collection will be available online only. It will contain six acoustic renderings of songs featured in previous Amaranthe albums and two fully electric compositions, ‘Breaking Point’ and ‘Splinter in My Soul.’ In regards to the collection’s upcoming release guitarist Olof noted the difficulty in finding the band’s bonus tracks and b-sides. So the band decided to put together a record that would serve as what its members felt would be a good representation of those songs. “As some of you know, AMARANTHE has recorded quite a few b-sides and bonus tracks throughout the years,” he said. “We’ve always tried to keep the quality high, as something extra for our fans, but until now a lot of these tracks have been hard-to-find rarities, and quite spread out. We are now very excited to release a collection of some of the best b-sides and bonuses: Breaking Point: B-sides 2011-2015. It focuses on some of the best acoustic renditions of fan favorites as well as a couple of originals from the early days! Enjoy this rare and different side of AMARANTHE!” The full track listing for the band’s upcoming compilation is noted below.

TRACK LISTING:

1. “Hunger” (Acoustic)
2. “Afterlife” (Acoustic)
3. “Amaranthine” (Acoustic)
4. “Burn With Me” (Acoustic)
5. “Trinity” (Acoustic )
6. “True” (Acoustic)
7. “Breaking Point”
8. “Splinter In My Soul”

Along with the announcement of its upcoming EP, the band also announced that it will premiere its latest video soon. The video will accompany the song ‘True,’ which was included in the band’s 2014 album Massive Addictive. The band will return to the U.S. later this month just ahead of the debut of its upcoming EP for its Massive Collision Tour, which kicks off on October 29th in Atlanta, Georgia. The tour includes a pair of dates early on in North Carolina on October 30th and November 1st in Jacksonville and Charlotte respectively. The full schedule of dates for the band’s upcoming tour is listed below.

AMARANTHE FALL 2015 TOUR DATES:

10/29: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
10/30: Jacksonville, NC @ Hooligans
11/1: Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend
11/4: New York, @ Webster Hall (Marlin Room)
11/5: Stafford Springs, CT @ Palace Theater
11/6: Manchester, NH @ Jewel Nightclub
11/7: Montreal, QC @ Theatre Fairmount
11/8: Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
11/10: Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar
11/11: Cleveland, OH @ The Odeon
11/13: Flint, MI @ Machine Shop
11/14: Green Bay, WI @ The Sandlot Entertainment Complex
11/15: Arlington Heights, IL @ HOME Bar
11/17: Sauget, IL @ Pop’s
11/18: Little Rock, AR @ Juanita’s
11/19: Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
11/20: McAllen, TX @ Cine El Rey
11/21: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill
11/24: Santa Ana, CA @ The Yost Theater
11/27: Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
11/28: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory
11/29: San Jose, CA @ Rockbar Theater

More information on Amaranthe’s upcoming EP and tour is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.amaranthe.se

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/amaranthemetal

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

Amaranthe, Lullwater, Butcher Babies Team Up For “Massive Collision Tour”

Courtesy:  Artist Group International/Spinefarm Records/Century Media Records

Courtesy: Artist Group International/Spinefarm Records/Century Media Records

Amaranthe is returning to the U.S. this fall.

The Swedish hard rock band recently announced that it will return to the U.S. for what it has dubbed the “Massive Collision Tour” beginning Thursday, October 29th in Atlanta, Georgia. The new tour, presented by Artist Group International, marks the second time this year that the band has made its way across the U.S. and Canada. The new dates are in support of the band’s most recent full-length studio recording Massive Addictive, which was released on October 21st, 2014. The band will be joined on its upcoming dates by opening act LullWater and special guest Butcher Babies. The current schedule for the “Massive Collision Tour” is listed below. It includes a pair of performances early on in Jacksonville, NC and Charlotte, NC.

TOUR DATES:

10/29: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade

10/30: Jacksonville, NC @ Hooligans

11/1: Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend

11/4: New York, @ Webster Hall (Marlin Room)

11/5: Stafford Springs, CT @ Palace Theater

11/6: Manchester, NH @ Jewel Nightclub

11/7: Montreal, QC @ Theatre Fairmount

11/8: Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

11/10: Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar

11/11: Cleveland, OH @ The Odeon

11/13: Flint, MI @ Machine Shop

11/14: Green Bay, WI @ The Sandlot Entertainment Complex

11/15: Arlington Heights, IL @ HOME Bar

11/17: Sauget, IL @ Pop’s

11/18: Little Rock, AR @ Juanita’s

11/19: Houston, TX @ Scout Bar

11/20: McAllen, TX @ Cine El Rey

11/21: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill

11/24: Santa Ana, CA @ The Yost Theater

11/27: Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades

11/28: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory

11/29: San Jose, CA @ Rockbar Theater

 

Tickets for the “Massive Collision Tour” are available now.  More information on ticketing, show times, and more is available online now along with all of the latest news from Amaranthe at:

 

Website: http://www.amranthe.se

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

 

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

 

Website: http://www.lullwatermusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lullwatermusic

 

More information on Butcher Babies is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://wwww.butcherbabies.net

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

 

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

Ragnarok Juletide Not Just Another Cookie Cutter Christmas Album

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records/Carolina Records/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records/Caroline Records/Universal Music Group

It’s that time of year again, everybody.  The turkey’s been devoured.  The leftovers have been turned into every possible concoction possible.  The in-laws are (hopefully) gone.  The Christmas tree and decorations are set up.  The annual deluge of Christmas movies is running across the networks.  And the overwhelming surge of cookie cutter Christmas albums is in every store shelf and on every store radio.  The movies are bearable.  The decorations and tree are no problem.  The problem is the cookie cutter Christmas albums.  Save for Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, every other Christmas album from every major artist and band sounds the same.  And making it worse, it’s the same albums on shelves and radios every year.  Thankfully this year, Spinefarm Records and Caroline Records have given audiences quite a welcome breath of fresh air from all of those albums with the new “Christmas Metal” album Ragnarok Juletide.  The latest release from the ever-evolving metal super group, it was recorded this year by members of Amaranthe, Nightwish, and Sonata Arctica.  For those that don’t know, Raskasta Joulua translates to “Christmas Love.”  And heavy is just what audiences get in this mixed collection of holiday standards and original Finnish holiday material.  Raskasta Joulua celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.  While it obviously hasn’t been around nearly as long as Mannheim Steamroller or Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Raskasta Joulua’s new album will entertain the metal legions and lovers of Christmas music alike from start to finish.  From the very TSO-esque take on ‘The First Noel’ to the James Bond-style sound of ‘The Elf’ to the absolutely stunning closer that is ‘Ave Maria,’ Ragnarok Juletide offers audiences so much to like.  That includes the songs not noted here, too.  Collectively, the songs included on this record make it a holiday record that every lover of Christmas music should hear at least once this holiday season.

It goes without saying after hearing Ragnarok Juletide that this compilation is one that every lover of Christmas music should hear at least once this holiday season.  It is a breath of fresh air from all of the cookie cutter Christmas albums churned out year after year by all of the mainstream acts out there.  One example of what makes this album so enjoyable for audiences is the band’s take on the holiday standard ‘The First Noel.’  While it does boast a sound similar to that of TSO, it still maintains its own identity.  It isn’t just ‘The First Noel.’  It mixes that song together with elements of ‘Carol of the Bells’ and ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ to make a song that will have every headbanger putting their horns high this holiday season.  Even more interesting to note are the guitar solos.  Audiences will hear in the guitar solos elements of not only TSO but of Dream Theater, and certain well-known 80s hair metal bands.  Throughout it all, the performers tapped for this performance exhibit great talent and respect for the original songs on which the song is based.  Needless to say it is one of the highest of points on this record although not the album’s only high point.

Raskasta Joulua offers plenty of high points from start to finish throughout the course of the dozen total tracks that make up the body of Ragnarok Juletide.  The group’s take on ‘The First Noel’ is one example of just how much this album has to offer audiences.  American audiences likely aren’t so familiar with ‘The Elf.’  But the group’s take on this song will entertain listeners in its own way.  The song follows a little elf that is hard at work at night.  The song sounds foreboding.  But it really isn’t that dark of a song.  The use of the James Bond style guitar riff adds to the song’s impact, enhancing the visual imagery of the elf working in secret.  And the vocalist’s deep, baritone makes for even more impact.  It is the polar opposite of ‘The First Noel.’  But it is still such a great addition to this compilation.  It is just one more example of what makes Ragnarok Juletide such a great listen for any lover of Christmas music and any metal head around the world this holiday season.

Ragnarok Juletide has so much to offer audiences on its latest full-length release as has been noted here already. The metal legions around the world will appreciate the album’s heavier side exemplified by the likes of the album’s opener ‘We Celebrate at Christmas’ and its take on ‘The First Noel.’ There is also the lesser known ‘The Elf’ that will impress those looking for something a little less heavy but still with a certain edge. On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, there is the absolutely stunning rendition of ‘Ave Maria’ that closes out the compilation. This song is the single most powerful and moving piece on the entire record. So it makes sense that it would be saved for last. Whether for its solo vocal parts, the ever-so-subtle dual harmony in the song’s closing moments, or its gentle fade out at the end, there is so much to admire about this piece. Anyone not moved at least to some point in listening to this song is either not listening closely enough or simply is not human. It is a wonderful, final moment and one that along with those other songs noted here (and those not noted) makes this record a memorable anniversary celebration for Raskasta Joulua. It makes it just as memorable for anyone looking to escape from the cookie cutter holiday albums that populate most store shelves and radio systems.

Ten years in, Raskasta Joulua has shown yet again that even while it may not have the popularity of Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Mannheim Steamroller, it still impresses just as much today as in its earliest days. From the group’s renditions of more well-known and beloved holiday classics to those that might be more familiar to only certain audiences, Ragnarok Juletide, this record proves in the end to be the best new holiday record of 2014, hands down. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from the Raskasta Joulua website at http://www.raskastajoulua.com. More information on this and other releases from Raskasta Joulua is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.raskastajoulua.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/raskastajoulua

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Amaranthe’s Latest LP Is Massively Addictive

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Universal Music Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website: http://www.amaranthe.se

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

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