Project 86 “Among” Rock and Metal’s Best On Phil’s Picks 2017 Top New Hard Rock & Metal Albums

Courtesy: Project 86/TAG Publicity

For those about to rock, we salute you!

Yes, everyone knows that phrase from AC/DC’s classic song by the same name.  As popular as it is, it is more than just a song lyric and title.  It is a statement of honor for the acts and audiences who span the rock community.  This year, as with every year prior, there are so many bands to honor as the year nears its end, including hard rock and metal bands.  In case it hasn’t become clear by now, this article focuses on this critic’s choices for the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  As with every list before, compiling it was not an easy task.  New releases from Project 86, Arch Enemy, Iced Earth, and so many others made this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums very crowded.  That is putting it lightly.  Between well-known mainstream acts and their lesser-known independent counterparts, the two sides collectively offered so many impressive new albums.

Topping this critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums is Project 86’s latest album Sheep Among Wolves.  The band’s 10th full-length studio recording in 20 years, this record takes all of the best elements of the band’s past — both musically and lyrically — and uses them to craft a work that is just as memorable and engaging as its predecessors.  Also on this year’s list from Phil’s Picks are new albums from — as already noted — Iced Earth and Arch Enemy — as well as new offerings from Overkill, Act of Defiance, Prong, Adrenaline Mob, Blacktop Mojo and others. As with every list, this list presents this critic’s Top 10 titles plus five additional titles for a total of 15 records.  That being noted, here for you is Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Hard Rock & Metal Albums.


  1. Project 86 — Sheep Among Wolves
  2. Prong — Zero Days
  3. Act of Defiance — Old Scars, New Wounds
  4. Overkill — The Grinding Wheel
  5. Iced Earth — Incorruptable
  6. Blacktop Mojo — Burn The Ships
  7. Adrenaline Mob — We The People
  8. Marty Friedman — Wall of Sound
  9. Corroded — Defcon Zero
  10. Dragonforce — Reaching Into Infinity
  11. The Haunted — Strength In Numbers
  12. Doyle — As We Die
  13. Demon Hunter — Outlive
  14. 36 Crazyfists — Lanterns
  15. Arch Enemy — Will To Power

That’s all for this list.  Again, it was not an easy list to compile.  Acts the likes of Eve To Eve to Adam, Marty Friedman, Sepultura, Annihilator, Mastodon and so many others all deserve their own share of credit.  With that in mind, it becomes easy to see why no disrespect was meant to any one act or another here.  Every noted act released its own impressive album.  Only so many spaces were available, sadly.

2018 is already shaping up to be an interesting year in its own right, with new material from Ministry on the way alongside new albums from Judas Priest, Saxon, Machine Head, Corrosion of Conformity, Tool, Clutch and lots more.  Stay tuned for all of that in the new year.  To keep up with all of 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

Annihilator Teams With UDR Music To Release New Hits Compilation Set

Courtesy: UDR Music

Courtesy: UDR Music

Veteran Canadian thrash outfit Annihilator has released a new hits collection of sorts to the masses.

The band released its new compilation Triple Threat on Friday.  The three-disc collection is in separate DVD/2CD combo pack, Blu-ray/2CD and standalone 2CD set via UDR Music. The collection features re-worked versions of many of the band’s hits in three very different settings.

The first setting is an acoustic setting featuring 10 of the band’s hits in a stripped down presentation.

The set’s second disc presents 11 more of the band’s songs in a full-on live setting from the band’s performance at the 2016 Bang Your Head Festival.  The third disc is a visual presentation of the acoustic and live presentations on the set’s first two discs.

The third disc also includes a 45-minute documentary and bonus discussions from front man Jeff Waters.  Waters discusses the set’s acoustic renderings in one of the bonus segments.  He also answers fan questions in another of the bonus segments.

Triple Threat’s track listing is noted below.


Unplugged: The Watersound Studios Sessions:

  1. Sounds Good To Me
  2. Bad Child
  3. Innnocent Eyes
  4. Snake In The Grass
  5. Fantastic Things
  6. Holding On
  7. Stonewall
  8. In The Blood
  9. Crystal Ann
  10. Phoenix Rising


Live At The BANG YOUR HEAD Festival:

  1. King Of The Kill
  2. No Way Out
  3. Creepin’ Again
  4. Set The World On Fire
  5. W.T.Y.D. (Welcome To Your Death)
  6. Never, Neverland
  7. Bliss
  8. Second To None
  9. Refresh The Demon
  10. Alison Hell
  11. Phantasmagoria


The BluRay and DVD visual content is split in 3 parts:


Chapter I – Annihilator Un-Plugged: The Watersound Studios Sessions (62 mins)

Chapter II – Annihilator Live at the BANG YOUR HEAD Festival (45 mins)

Chapter III – ANNIHILATOR: Summer Mini-Documentary 2016 (45 mins)

Plus Bonus Video Chapters: “Jeff’s Commentary On The Acoustic Songs” and “Jeff Answers Fan Questions”


Waters discussed how the band’s new collection came to life in a recent interview. He said working the songs into acoustic renditions was especially exciting for him.

“This was one of the coolest things I have done in my long career,” Waters said.  Having five people in a room, from all different backgrounds and talents, coming together to play songs from the past, and to try to sound like we are one but totally live and with feeling. This was one of the biggest challenges that ANNIHILATOR has faced, musically, but what impressed me the most was how you can hear all the individual styles each player has and how we were able to glue the playing and feel together. Done all in one take and with all the musical blemishes and imperfections that I would never normally let slide!

He added working specific songs made the recording experience truly special.

This set covers some of the melodic songs, one even from 1984 (when a few of these guys were not even born!) and I just had to do this once in my life… to challenge myself and maybe show some others that it’s not always just about the metal and the thrash! Rock n’ roll and ballads are found everywhere in heavy metal,” Waters said.  ANNIHILATOR are made up of a helluva lot of styles, mixed into one. That’s exactly what kind of musicians I put together for this set – a mixed bag of rockers and metalheads – and they made our legacy proud! Enjoy… we sure love this one.”

More information on Triple Threat is available online now along with Annihilator’s latest news and more at:










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Metal Purists Will Appreciate UDR Music’s Wacken 2015 Recording

Courtesy: UDR Music

Courtesy: UDR Music

The Wacken Open Air Festival is one of the most renowned hard rock concert festivals if the music industry.  The festival started 26 years ago in the city after which it is named.  Late this summer UDR Music celebrated the festivals 25th anniversary – marked in 2015 – with the release of the festival’s 25th anniversary recording.  Considering that the recording presents the show lineup from the festival’s 25th anniversary, its title is a little bit misleading.  That aside, it is still an enjoyable experience for any purist member of the metal nation worldwide.  That is due in no small part to the lineup presented in the recording.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bands’ performances are just as important to note in the recording’s presentation as is the recording’s presented lineup.  That will be discussed later.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available rounds out the most important of the recording’s elements.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the recording’s presentation.  All things considered, Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of this year’s top new overall live recordings.

Live at Wacken 2015 – ­26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of 2016’s top new overall live recordings.  It is hardly the first live recording that the festival’s organizers have ever released.  Even with that in mind, it is still an enjoyable recording for the festival’s fans and for the purist metal legions around the world.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s featured performer list.  A total of 107 bands performed on Wacken 2015 between the Bullhead City Circus, Party Stage and double main stage.  It goes without saying that considering that mass of metal, there’s no way that UDR or the fesitval’s organizers could have possibly featured every one of those bands.  Regardless, the featured performer list included in this recording is still impressive in its own right.  That list includes the likes of Judas Priest, Danko Jones, Uli Jon Roth, In Flames, Annihilator and so many others.  Simply put, the perfomer list featured in this recording pulls from a number of metal’s sub genres and from so many eras of metal’s history.  It goes to show the respect that the festival’s organizers and fans have for metal, its history and culture.  Sure, it would have been nice to have Dream Theater included in the featured performer list, or maybe Hellyeah, or even Prong (yes, even Prong performed at Wacken 2015).  But the performer list included in this recording is still impressive in its own right in the end.  Considering this, it should be clear why it is such an important piece of the recording’s presentation.  It is just one of the important elements to note.  The featured acts’ stage presence in their performances is just as important to note here as the acts themselves.

The acts that are featured in UDR Music’s new Wacken Open Air Festival recording are important in their own right to the recording’s overall presentation.  That is because while hardly every one of the bands that performed at the festival, they represent a wide swatch of the metal community and its history.  That means the recording will reach just as wide of an audience.  While the recording’s featured performer list is clearly an important piece of the recording’s presentation, it is hardly the recording’s only important element.  The bands’ stage presence in their performances plays an important part in the recording’s presentation, too.  Rob Halford and company prove the importance of the bands’ performances right from the recording’s outset.  They take the stage and own it with ease.  Halford is at the top of his game both in terms of his vocal talent and his very presence.  Glenn Tipton is just as enjoyable to take in as he works his way through the band’s performance of ‘Painkiller.  On another note, the members of Running Wild are just as impressive as they work through the high-octane ‘Under The Jolly Roger.’  Skindred’s performance of ‘Proceed With Caution’ will have home audiences on their feet just as easily as it did the audience in attendance of the festival.  That is because of the fire and energy exuded by the band throughout its performance.  It is just one more example of the importance of the bands’ performance to the festival recording’s presentation.  One could just as easily cite the performances from My Dying Bride, In Flames, and Death Angel as proof of that importance, too.  All things considered, it is safe to say that every single performance featured in this recording will keep home audiences just as entertained and engaged as the audiences that got to enjoy the festival in person.  Even with all of this in mind, the bands’ performances still are not the last element to note in examining this recording.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available are just as important to note as the previously discussed elements.

The bands that were featured in Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell and their performances are both key elements in examining the festival’s recording.  The featured performer list presents the past, present and future of metal while also presenting a solid cross-section proving what has made the festival so respected for now 26 years.  The featured bands’ performances are so important to note because they will keep home audiences just as entertained and engaged as the audiences who had the honor of experiencing the festival in person.  While both elements are clearly important both alone and collectively to the recording’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available are just as important to note as the previously noted elements.  Audiences will be happy to know that the recording has been made available on separate 2 DVD/2 CD and 2 BD/2 CD combo pack.  The DVD set averages approximately $22 and the BD set $23.  Considering that, the various platforms and their prices are relatively affordable for audiences.  The only downside to the sets is that their set lists don’t exactly match.  Not every song featured in the recording’s DVD and BD presentation is included in the recording’s CD platform.  To that end, it is the recording’s only major negative, which is actually a good thing.  That means that the recording’s varied platforms and other discussed elements more than make up for that one negative, as unavoidable as it is to note.  All things considered, Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell proves in the bigger picture to be one of 2016’s top new live recordings as well as one of the year’s top new live DVD/BDs and CDs.  It is available now in stores and online.

Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of 2016’s top new live recordings.  That is the case even considering that it does have at least one unavoidable negative.  The recording’s featured performer list and the featured acts’ performances partner with the varied platforms on which the recording has been made available to make the recording an enjoyable experience for any purist member of the metal nation worldwide.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from UDR Music is available online now at:










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Slayer Reclaims The Metal Throne In 2015

There’s only a week and a half left in 2015 after this week. That means that the days are finally really ticking away. And as they pass by so do the year-ender lists from all of the critics. That includes this critic. So far this month, Phil’s Picks has revealed its top new EPs, World Music albums, County, etc. albums, Rap and Hip-Hop albums, Children’s albums, and Rock albums. There have even been lists for the year’s best new live CD recording and album re-issues. Now we come down to the last two lists of the music universe for this year. Today the first of those lists will be revealed. That list is the list of the year’s best new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums. The second and final music list of the year is the year’s best overall albums. That list will come alongside the list of the year’s top new movies later on. So for now, today brings the last of the music year-enders. And it’s quite a doozy. It was anything but easy to assemble. Slayer grabbed the top spot with its new album Repentless. Saxon is there, too as is Annihilator, Gloomball, Between The Buried and Me, and many others. As with every previous list, the Top 10 albums make up the main body of the list. The bottom five are each honorable mention as they simply could not be ignored. That brings the total list to fifteen albums. SO without further ado, here for your reading pleasure, dear readers, are the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Albums.

































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Annihilator’s New Album Is A Tasty Metal Feast

Courtesy:  EMI/UDR

Courtesy: EMI/UDR

Annihilator’s latest full length studio release is a breath of fresh air for the metal community.   The veteran Canadian metal band released this past September, its fourteenth (yes, fourteenth) full length release.  It couldn’t have chosen a better name than Feast for its new album.  That’s because at a time when so many thrash and hardcore bands continue to rely on crunchy, down-tuned guitars and cookie monster growls to fill their audiences’ appetites, Annihilator has taken what is increasingly the road less travelled.  The band’s new album is pure thrash metal at its best.  From its speed metal riffs to the pounding vocals of front man David Padden and the songs’ lyrical content, every pure blooded metal head will find something to appreciate in this record.

Annihilator has seen its share of ups and downs ever since the release of the band’s debut record, Alice in Hell.  The band has changed labels and band members so much that one would seemingly need a program to keep up with it all.  Through it all, one thing has stayed constant for this band.  That one constant has been the band’s ability to make some of the best pure thrash metal out there.  While the metal community has leaned its focus more on the “metalcore” genre over the years, Annihilator has remained one of the few bands to not go that route.  This aspect alone makes Feast a must hear for any purist metal head.  Right from the album’s opener, ‘Deadlock’, listeners are transported back to the golden days of metal courtesy of guitarist Jeff Waters’ solid shredding and drummer Mike Harshaw’s time keeping.  And even vocalist David Padden’s vocals add their own positive element to the song, not to mention the song’s social commentary.  Padden writes in this song a piece that while somewhat nihilistic, also holds some truth.  He writes, “We face our extinction day after day/Oblivious to what we’ll become/Persist to exist in our pathetic ways/With nothing to show when it’s done/We take what they give/Complacency to the masses/Content to consume/The idiots outbreeding twenty to one/Ensuring our future is doomed.”  It comes across as a commentary on how people seem to be increasingly embracing the mantra that ignorance is bliss.  He doesn’t stop here, either.  He adds commentary on America’s blind consumerism and desire for the next big thing as he writes, “Standing in line for the latest release/An upgrade to s*** we don’t need/A fist full of cash/And a smile on your face/A wallet just dying to bleed.”  This couldn’t be truer.  Just look at how people in general clamor for the next big product from Apple and other major tech companies.  Such biting commentary set next to equally powerful music makes this song quite the tasty first course from Annihilator’s new musical “feast.”  And yes that bad pun was entirely intended.

The band doesn’t let up one bit after ‘Deadlock’ ends.  Listeners will appreciate ‘Smear Campaign’ just as much as the album’s opener.  They will once again appreciate it not just for the music but for its equally biting commentary.  Guitarist Jeff Waters wrote this song.  This full on defiant anthem will give strength to anyone that has ever been tormented by those that live their lives trying to make others’ lives miserable.  Waters writes in this song, “Demonize, jeopardize, spreading your disease/So glad you’ve had your fun/Making up your stories/Spewing them with ease/But now your time is done/Can’t look in my eyes/You won’t apologize/Judge you should not/But now I hope you rot/Sad, weak and insecure/Your life is just a fail bitterness and jealousy/Fabricate now too late/The coffin and the nail/It’s time for remedy.”  This song could not be more important to this album.  It is an important addition to the album because of its power.  Much like a number of songs crafted by Hatebreed, it’s one of those defiant fist pumpers that flips the proverbial middle finger at those defeatists that would do whatever they can to pull down those around them.  That combination of musical and lyrical intensity will most certainly raise the mindset of any member of the metal community in hard times.  So Waters and his band mates are to be commended for including this song on this album.

Waters exhibited quite a bit of writing and musical prowess in his crafting of ‘Smear Campaign.’  In the same vein, listeners will appreciate the longer but just as thrashing ‘Fight The World.’  This song is such an interesting addition to ‘Feast’ because it too is so powerful both musically and lyrically speaking.  Waters and his band mates fool listeners at first with this song by starting it off very slow and mournful for lack of better wording.  Set against the song’s lyrical content, it would actually be quite powerful had it maintained that slower more emotional sound.  But that slower, mournful sound doesn’t last long as the band very soon thereafter kicks into yet another full on thrash sound, making it just as powerful if not more so than the hypothesized sound.  That straightforward thrash sound set against Padden singing, “It’s easy to give up/To lose all hope/To use a substance to cope/I pick myself up/Turn this around/I’ll win this battle/You won’t take me down” makes it one more invaluable addition to the album’s sequencing.  It makes Feast that much better to take in no matter if one is new to the band’s music or a fan from way back when.

The songs included in Feast are definitely songs that any pure blooded metal head will appreciate.  That’s evidenced through just the three songs noted here.  They aren’t all that audiences will appreciate.  Just as wonderful to note is the musicianship of the band’s members.  Annihilator has seen its share of members over the course of nearly a quarter of a century.  But this most current lineup has shown with its musicianship that Annihilator is still very much a viable force in the metal community despite all of those changes.  And with any luck, it will remain a force for the foreseeable future.  The band is currently touring overseas in support of Feast.  Fans can keep up with the band’s latest tour dates and more on Feast online at,, and  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