Monophonics EP Takes Top Honors In 2018 Best New EPs List

Courtesy: Transistor Sound

The countdown to the end of the year is officially on, and with that countdown on, many critics — if not most — are either submitting their year-ender lists or have already done just that.  Now this critic is joining those ranks with the first of many year-enders to come in the form of the year’s Top 10 New EPs.

Those who have followed this critic’s daily ramblings year in and year out know that the year-enders have always started with the smallest records, the EPs, and this year is no different.  This year has seen a variety of interesting EPs released from across the musical universe.

Veteran rock band Sister Hazel is joined on this critic’s list this year with not one, but two new EPs — Wind and Water.  Each one stands out in its own right.  Also worth noting this year are new releases from the likes of up-and-coming hard rock/prog-metal outfit Hyvmine, World Music act Te’Amir, with two of its own new EPs and pop country artist Max Ater among many others.

As with every year past, this critic’s list features not 10, but 15 titles.  The top 10 titles are the primary titles, while the next five are honorable mention titles.  With everything noted, here with out any further ado, is Phil’s Picks Top 10 New EPs of 2018.


  1. Monophonics — Mirrors
  2. Hyvmine — Fight or Flight
  3. Sister Hazel — Water
  4. Sister Hazel — Wind
  5. Memphis Ukulele Band — Holidays Ain’t The Same
  6. Grand Canyon — Grand Canyon
  7. Max Ater — Small Town
  8. Te’Amir — Abyssinia
  9. Te’Armi — Abyssinia Rise
  10. Sammy Johnson — Midnight Lovers
  11. Sevi Ettinger — Salty Water
  12. Facing Fire — Facing Fire
  13. Ali McManus — Unbreakable
  14. Doc Rotten — Sick & Suffering
  15. Anialator — Rise To Supremacy

Up next from Phil’s Picks is this year’s Top 10 New Rap and Hip-Hop Albums.  That list features some well-known and not-so-well-known names and titles.  Stay tuned for that, too.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Metal Purists Will Welcome Anialator’s Return On ‘Rise To Supremacy’

Courtesy: Xtreem Music

The Texas music scene is by far one of the richest of any across America.  While some may immediately associate the “Lone Star State” with country music – which apparently still happens to this day – Texas has been home to a number of respected acts from across the musical universe.  Those acts include the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly Roy Orbison, Don Henley, The Reverend Horton Heat, Bowling For Soup, Pantera, Drowning Pool and so many others.  Those are just some of the state’s more well-known acts.  It has also produced some respected names in its under ground scene.  Metal outfit Anialator – not to be confused with the veteran Canadian metal band Annihilator – is just one of those underground acts from Texas that has gained such fame.  That is even though the band originally only lasted for three years in its original run from 1986 – 1989.  The band reformed in 2015, and early this year released its first real new studio recording since the release of the band’s 1989 EP Anialator II in the form of Rise to Supremacy. This latest effort is an interesting return for the Corpus Christi-based band as compared to its previous studio efforts.  As with those records, this 5-song record once again conjures comparisons to the likes of Slayer and other similar acts, but the sound produced throughout sounds more focused and fine-tuned.  That is just one of the elements worth noting in examining the EP.  The record’s seeming lyrical themes should also be discussed in examining the record.  Its sequencing rounds out the most important of its elements and will be discussed a little later, too.  Each element noted here is important in its own right to the whole of Rise to Surpremacy.  All things considered, they make this EP a hopeful new start for the band.

Veteran metal outfit Anialator’s new five-song EP Rise to Surpremacy is an interesting new beginning for the Corpus Christi, Texas-based band.  That is especially the case considering that it is the band’s first official release since the release of Anialator II way back in 1989.  This new return from Anialator is an interesting return in part because of its songs and their related production.  As with the songs included in the band’s previous pairs of EPs, the songs included in this song once again conjure those familiar comparisons to the likes of Slayer, Terror, Devastation and others of that ilk.  That is nothing new for this band, looking back at the band’s previous EPs from the late 80s.  The production of that sound is what really makes the songs stand out this time.  The production of this EP is so much cleaner and fine-tuned than Anialator II (1989) and its debut self-titled 1988 EP.  Those records, in all honesty sounded like they had just been thrown together – one giant mish mash of sound.  Given, maybe that was because of the recording tech available at the time, but either way, it just sounds here like the record’s songs were so much more focused and fine-tuned.  The attention to every instrument – and even the vocals – makes everything sound so much more balanced.  That in turn gives listeners reason in itself to check out this EP.  It is just one part of what makes the record worth hearing.  The record’s lyrical content makes it just as interesting.

The EP opens with a song titled ‘Embrace the Chaos.’  That alone sounds ominous.  Yet, listening to the song, front man Angel Gonzalez presents what seems like a more familiar topic with a seeming sociopolitical commentary.  That is inferred as he screams of a “world in crisis” and that “all is lost.”  He also makes note that “anger feeds who we are” and “who we will be” in this song.  What’s really interesting here is that as nihilistic as this seems, he goes on to note in the song’s second verse that “Life is full of hate/It will betray/So choose your fate a better way.”  In other words, for all of the pessimism here, he seems to be saying that something better is possible even with all of the negativity in the world.  There’s also mention of “facing this threat” and that “resistance is here to stay.”  It just seems like for all of the seeming negativity in the song’s title, it is in essence a lyrical work encouraging people not to let the world’s chaos get them down, but to embrace it and just live their lives to the best that they can.  As always, that is all just this critic’s interpretation and could be completely wrong.  Hopefully it isn’t.  Either way, it is definitely powerful enough that it will create plenty of discussions among listeners.  That in turn shows clearly the importance of the EP’s lyrical content.

‘The lyrical theme (or seeming them) at the center of ‘Thick Skinned’ is another interesting example of the importance of the record’s overall lyrical themes.  This song also seems like something of a sociopolitical commentary, too as Gonzalez notes of someone being “weak” and “incomplete” and by result, being “obsolete.”  There are also mentions of seeing the world a certain way, etc.  Working the lyrics sans lyrics sheet makes things a little difficult, full discretion.  There is also note of ‘knowing” one’s “place” and choosing one’s “words wisely” here.  It’s all very interesting to be fully honest, and knowing the full story would make it all the more interesting.  Regardless of what Gonzalez is trying to communicate here, it is obvious that it is a commentary of sorts.  The topic in question is what remains in question.  The discussions sure to be generated as a result shows even more the importance of the song’s lyrical content (and that of the EP in whole).

‘All Systems Down,’ the record’s second entry, is another way in which the EP’s lyrical content proves so interesting.  As with the other noted songs, this one also comes across as a commentary of sorts as Gonzalez screams in the song’s chorus, “All systems down/the world is upside down…”  there is also mention of one’s “eyes burning from the visions” and more.  Simply put, this is another rather nihilistic view of the current and potential future of America (and possibly the world).  It fits right in with the rest of the record’s lyrical material considering the seeming frustration at what the world has become.  Again, this is all just this critic’s interpretation working through these songs sans lyrics sheet, so hopefully nothing was misinterpreted here either. That aside, it is just as certain as the other songs to generate plenty of discussion among listeners, and after all, is that not the point of lyrics?  To that end, the discussion that this song is sure to generate (along with that sure to be created by the other noted songs and the remaining pair not noted here) the lyrics in this record prove without doubt to be just as important to its presentation as its musical content.  Those two elements together give any metal purist reason enough to hear this record at least once.  They are still not the last of the reasons for listeners to hear the EP.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of this five-song record keeps its energy at the highest level while the volume stays right up there, too alongside with the interest in its lyrical themes.  From start to end, listeners get a record that does not let up in its intensity on any level.  It shows that just as much time, thought and effort was put into the sequencing as the creation of the songs and their production.  That is another good sign for the record’s potential and even that of the band being that the band only reunited a few years ago after so much time apart.  Keeping this in mind along with the impact of the EP’s lyrical themes and its much more refined sound in its musical arrangements, the EP proves in whole to be a good re-start for Anialator and a good way to introduce new metal legions to the band.

Anialator’s first new record in nearly three decades is a good return for the band which initially made a name for itself in the 80s thrash metal scene in Texas’ underground scene.  While it is only a five-song record, it stands starkly as an improvement from the band’s first two EPs from 1988 and 1989.  That is thanks in no small part to the musical arrangements in this record and their overall production.  They collectively show quite a bit of focus and refinement in comparison to the band’s previous efforts.  Its lyrical themes are certain to generate plenty of discussion, too, as has been noted in an examination of just three of its songs.  Its sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation, ensuring the EP’s energy and interest never dwindles from one song to the next.  Each element noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the EP.  All things considered, they make Rise to Supremacy a record that could in fact help Anialator rise in the metal community today unlike its past efforts.  It is available now via the band’s bandcamp page.  More information on Rise to Supremacy is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:










To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at