‘Unleashed’ Is Another Successful Effort For Skillet

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Earlier this month, Skillet “unleashed” its latest full-length studio recording to the world. Its tenth full-length studio offering, Unleashed is everything that fans have come to expect from the band. That is not necessarily a bad thing, either. Over the course of its twelve total songs the album’s radio ready riffs and uplifting lyrical content make it a record that both secular and non-secular rockers alike will appreciate.  That is exhibited right off the top in the album’s high-energy, guitar-driven arena anthem ‘Feel Invincible.’  ‘Lions,’ with its stirring musical arrangement and equally uplifting lyrical content serves to show just as much what makes the album another success for the band.  ‘Burn It Down,’ with its Orgy-esque musical arrangement and powerful lyrical content serves n its own right to show what makes Unleashed another solid new offering from Skillet.  Of course these three songs are just a small sampling of what makes this record stand out.  ‘Undefeated,’ ‘I Want to Live’ and ‘Out Of Hell’ each stand on their own merits, too.  When they are set against the other three songs noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, the record in whole proves to be yet another successful effort from Skillet.

Skillet’s latest full-length studio offering Unleashed is in whole another solid, successful effort from the veteran rock outfit. That is exhibited throughout the course of the album’s forty-three minute run time thanks to the album’s mix of radio ready riffs and uplifting lyrical content.  The album’s opener is just one example of how that combination of musical and lyrical content makes Unleashed another solid record from the band.  That is due in part to the song’s keyboard-driven musical arrangement.  It instantly conjures thoughts of Muse’s hit song ‘Uprising.’  Guitarist Seth Morrison’s guitar line and drummer Jen Ledger’s time keeping couple with Korey Cooper’s keyboard line to make the song’s musical arrangement infectious and sure to be a favorite among audiences.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s positive lyrical content sits on the foundation formed by the song’s musical arrangement and makes the song even more solid.  It presents a message of self-determination and confidence as Cooper sings, “Target on my back/Lone survivor lasts/They got me in their sights/No surrender no/Trigger fingers go/Living the dangerous life/Hey, hey, hey/Everyday when I wake/I’m trying to get up/They’re knocking me down/Chewing me up/spitting me out/Hey, hey, hey/When I need to be saved/You’re making me strong/You’re making me stand/Never will fall/Never will end/Shot like a rocket up into the sky/Nothing could stop me tonight.”  Cooper’s subject is someone who isn’t letting anyone or anything keep him or her down here.  Even more interesting is that these lines could apply just as easily in the secular realm as in the non-secular realm.  That is a strong statement in itself. And it applies to the rest of the song’s verses, too.  Keeping that in mind, that vast inspiration couples with the song’s musical arrangement to show clearly why ‘Feel Invincible’ is such a strong example of what makes Unleashed such a solid new effort from Skillet.  Audiences can hear ‘Feel Invincible’ now online via Skillet’s official YouTube channel. It is only one of the songs that exhibit this, too.  ‘Lions’ is another example of what makes Unleashed such a strong new effort from the band.

‘Feel Invincible’ is a prime example of what makes Unleashed another successful effort for the veteran rock act. That is due to the combination of the song’s musical arrangement and its uplifting lyrical content.  The two elements together make the song a solid start for the album and its own standout composition within the bigger body of the album.  It is not the album’s only notable inclusion. ‘Lions’ stands on its own merits, too as another example of what makes this record a success.  One of those merits is the song’s musical arrangement.  The song’s musical arrangement combines Korey Cooper’s work on keyboards with an equally stirring string arrangement to form its foundation. John Cooper’s vocals and bass line strengthen that foundation even more alongside Jen Ledger’s work behind the drums.  The end result is a musical composition that in itself stands just as tall and proud as the giants and lions that are mentioned in the song’s lyrical content.  Speaking of that lyrical content the song’s lyrical content is just as important to the song as its musical arrangement.  [John] Cooper sings here, “Today is ours/It’s always been/Before we face the fight/We know who’s gonna win/We live by faith and not by sight/We don’t want safe and quiet/We don’t wanna run and hide.”  He goes on to sing, “This is not an intermission/It’s our time/Not gonna miss it/You’ve already called us fearless/Unafraid.”  The message presented here is obvious.  It is a message of self-confidence and pride, just as with the album’s opener.  And it is just a small sampling of that message, too.  The song’s lead verse and third verse present much the same message.  What is interesting here is that considering the confidence presented in these lines, one would expect the song’s musical arrangement to be more intense.  But the song actually works just as well with the mix of confidence and gentility that is in fact presented in this arrangement.  It actually serves to make the song’s lyrical message more impacting.  When all of this is taken into consideration, it makes clear why ‘Lions’ stands out just as much as ‘Feel Invincible’ and the album’s other offerings.  One more of those standout offerings included in this record is ‘Burn It Down.’

‘Feel Invincible’ and ‘Lions’ are both clear examples of what makes Unleashed another success for Skillet.  While both songs clearly exhibit in their own way what makes this record a success, they are hardly the album’s only bright spots.  ‘Burn It Down’ is one more of the album’s high points.  That is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement.  Audiences that know their music history will instantly catch a clear similarity between this song’s musical arrangement and that of Orgy’s cover of ‘Blue Monday.’  It is most evident in hearing Seth Morrison’s guitar line, Korey Cooper’s keyboard line, and John Cooper’s bass line.  The similarity isn’t a mirror image so to speak.  But it is so close that there is no similarity between the two songs coincidental or not.  Keeping this in mind, the song’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.  The song’s lyrical content presents a message of proud defiance against life’s obstacles, much as the album’s other songs.  That is evident as Cooper sings, “Do you ever wish that you weren’t a prisoner/Do you feel like you’re done/All the dreams you had are hard to remember/Well, you’re not the only one/Well it’s over, it’s over, it’s over/I won’t be pushed around/Move over, move over, move over/get back or just get out/Set this plane up in flames/It’s over, it’s over, it’s over/It’s time to burn it down.”  He is saying to listeners, everyone has felt those tough times at one point or another and that no one should let those difficult times stop them.  Rather, they should face them and burn them down, metaphorically speaking of course.  That message is presented just as clearly in the song’s second verse as Cooper sings, “Do you ever feel your colors are fading/Like your world might combust/Do the voices in your head make you crazy/When they’re the only ones you trust.”  He reprises the song’s chorus right after that, reminding listeners once again not to let themselves get pushed around and held down by life’s many obstacles even when it seems like even one’s own thoughts are working against a person.  It is a message that never gets old and is always welcome by listeners of all ages.  When it is set against the song’s high-energy musical arrangement, the two elements couple to show in whole why this song is yet another of the most notable of this record’s songs.  When the song is set alongside ‘Lions’ and ‘Feel Invincible,’ all three songs show clearly why Unleashed is another welcome offering from Skillet.  When they are joined with the remainder of the album’s songs, the album proves in whole to be one more success from one of the Christian rock community’s top acts.

Skillet’s new album Unleashed is, in whole, another successful effort from the veteran rock act.  Christian rock act or not, this album is still a solid new effort from the band.  That is evident both in the musical arrangements presented in each of the album’s songs and the songs’ lyrical content.  The musical arrangement present radio ready riffs from one to the next.  The lyrical content presented within each song will is uplifting without being preachy at any point.  The end result is a record that secular audiences should and will appreciate just as much as non-secular listeners.  All things considered Unleashed proves in the end to be one more successful effort from Skillet.  The band is currently touring in support of Unleashed.  It will be in Anaheim, California tonight and Duquoin, Illinois August 28th.  Audiences can see the band’s full tour schedule online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:




Website: http://www.skillet.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/skilletmusic




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TSO Goes Back To Its Past On New EP

Courtesy:  Atlantic Records

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Trans Siberian Orchestra is back at it again.  It’s been over fifteen years since this famed melodic power rock band first turned the world of Christmas music on its ear with its blend of classical, rock, and holiday sounds.  And it’s been eight years since the band’s last holiday themed release, The Lost Christmas Eve (2004).  Now, the band has returned to form after the release of its most recent album, Night Castle with the release of its new EP, Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night).

TSO’s new EP offers fans four new songs and one that revisits an old classic and updates it at the same time.  That track is the EP’s title track.  Long-time fans of TSO will instantly recognize the band’s song ‘Queen Of The Winter Night’ in this song.  The change here though is that it has been mixed in with the final movement of Vivaldi’s legendary ‘Four Seasons’ opus.  Obviously, going back in time for this song has and will continue to divide the band’s legions.  But adding in new material makes for an interesting musical reboot of sorts.   

The EP’s opener, ‘Winter Palace’ is the perfect first impression for this new release.  Its ominous piano based intro will instantly grab listeners and keep their attention throughout the course of the song’s near four minute run time.  It’s the song’s buildup from the first bars to the sudden harder edged rock sound that makes it such a powerful first song.  It will instantly conjure thoughts of the band’s breakthrough hit, ‘Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24’ with its overall tone.  And its transition into the EP’s title track adds even more power to the overall general effect of this new release.

The EP’s third track, ‘I Had a Memory’ is just as…well…memorable as song as anything that the band has released over the course of its “Christmas Trilogy.”  This one will instantly conjure thoughts of ‘Faith Noel’ also from the band’s previous Christmas album, The Lost Christmas Eve.  Fans will recall that after the song’s initial slower opening “A” section, the tempo picks up in its “B” section.  The overall sound here even goes to more of a rock based sound.  A side by side comparison of the two songs will surely show the similarity.  While the band obviously looked to its roots for this piece, it can’t be said that the band directly ripped itself off.  But the influence of its previous record is undoubtedly there in this song. 

The influence of the band’s previous works is evident even as it moves into the EP’s penultimate track, ‘Someday.’  Stylistically, its emotional, almost folksy sound is similar to that of certain material from the band’s debut 1996 album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories.  What’s different here though, is the song’s lyrical side.  Lyrically, it is a tribute on the part of TSO founder and singer Paul O’ Neill to his parents sung by vocalist Tim Hockenberry.  Hockenberry’s haunting vocal style won’t leave a single eye dry after hearing singing here, “So I wrote these words/And I hope they last/For the years have come/And the years have passed/Think of all they gave/Think of all the debt/But can’t find a way/To repay them yet/For the days still come/And the debt still mounts/And do words unsaid/Ever really count/But sometimes still/In the dead of night/I can see them there/In the pale moonlight/I am trying/And I don’t know how/And I don’t know when/But I’ll have to tell them/Someday.”  It’s not just Hockenberry’s vocals that will move listeners in this emotional piece, either.  The music makes for a fitting compliment to Hockenberry’s gritty and almost mournful vocals in this song.  Together, they make one more highlight to the EP.  It’s a song that will leave even the strongest person at least a little teary eyed.

TSO’s new EP closes out with the gentle and equally emotional vocals of singer Georgia Napolitano on ‘Time You Should Be Sleeping.’  Yet again, TSO has reached back into its bag of tricks here as its obvious this song was influenced at least some part by the band’s song, ‘Dream Child’ from its 1998 album, ‘The Christmas Attic.’  Napolitano’s vocals are so powerful in their gentility, proving once more the old adage that less is more is very true.  Listeners can almost see this loving mother figure holding her young child, smiling down on said child as she sings, “I can see you breathing/Know that I am near you/Feel the evening whisper/In gentle sighs/To close your eyes until tomorrow/Childhood dreams are always new/And when you are there I’ll follow/And believe that my whole life is…/You.”  If this final moment doesn’t send chills and draw tears once more from listeners, then it’s anyone’s guess what would.  ‘Time You Should Be Sleeping’ doesn’t necessarily show any real Christmas themes.  But that aside, its beautiful lullaby style sound and lyrics make it the perfect counterpart to the EP’s opener, gently landing listeners on another musical shore after the journey taken from the EP’s other songs, thus closing one more impressive release from one of rock’s greatest and most talented bands around today.

Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via TSO’s online store at http://transsiberianorchestra.shop.bravadousa.com/.  It can also be picked up at the band’s shows as it tours the country in support of the new release and its most recently full length Christmas album, The Lost Christmas Eve.  To get a full list of tour dates and all the latest news from the band, audiences can go online to http://www.facebook.com/TSO or http://www.trans-siberian.com.

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Halestorm Holding Special Online Performance Today

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Halestorm has a very special treat for all of its fans today.  The band will be taking over the Warner Sound studios today.  The band will be performing live at 3pmEST/12PT for a very special Live Session performance.  Fans can check out the announcement from the band right here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfpxXV3HrVg.  And fans can go to The Warner Sound’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/TheWarnerSound

The PA based band’s performance is all part of its ongoing promotion for its most recent album, Strange Case Of…  The album was released April 10th via Atlantic Records and was produced by mega producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., Sepultura, Theory of a Deadman, etc.)  Those who don’t get the chance to catch the band this afternoon will still get plenty of opportunities to see the band live as it tours in support of its new album.  The band’s next live performance will be Thursday, November 8th at the Soul Kitchen in Mobile, Alabama.  It will also be making a stop in Asheville, North Carolina on Wednesday, December 12th at the Orange Peel.  Halestorm’s fans can get a full tour rundown and all the latest news from the band online at http://www.halestormrocks.com, http://www.facebook.com/halestormrocks, and http://www.myspace.com/halestorm

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Zac Brown Band Impresses Again On “Uncaged”

Courtesy: Southern Ground Artists/ROAR/Atlantic Records/wngreen

Zac Brown band’s third release, “Uncaged” is an interesting work.  While this record does have some of the same feel of the band’s 2008 debut, “The Foundation”, it goes in a slightly different direction.  What it tries to do is mix the sounds of its previous two releases into one full album.  It’s not the worst album that the band has released.  But it isn’t the best, either.  Regardless, it still has enough firepower to make it a fun listen.

The album opens very strongly with the song, ‘Jump Right In.’ The drums and whistles instantly conjure thoughts of Rio de Janeiro’s famed Carnival festival.  The song goes straight into the Jimmy Buffet song style that has made the Zac brown band so popular.  It’s just as uplifting lyrically as it is musically.  Brown sings in the song’s chorus, “You can jump right in/let the music pull you in/You can jump right in/Oh, lose yourself again/as the southern wind sings again/another lullaby.”  Simply put, this song is just a feel good song.  It’s about letting go of the worries of the world and simply having a good time every now and then.  It makes for a wonderful opening to this new album.

‘Jump Right In’ is followed by a song that is just as solid in the album’s title track.  While it’s just as solid a song, its general feel is quite different from ‘Jump Right In.’ This track has more of an Allman Brothers Band feel.  The use of the organ and the guitar work gives the song that feel.  And from the opening verse, listeners get more positive vibe.  Zac sings as the song opens, “Gonna drift to the great wide open/gonna set my spirit free/won’t stop till I reach the ocean/gonna break these chains all in me.”  The song’s second verse is just as uplifting.  He sings on verse two, “Gonna swim in the coldest river/gonna drink from a mountain spring/Live in the land of the great wide open/let the water roll all over me.”  The remainder of the song carries that same uplifting vibe.  Both musically and lyrically, it will get any listener moving.

The band kicks into a bluegrass vibe after these two songs in the album’s fourth track, ‘The Wind.’  Brown picks with the best of them in this song.  Rather than being one of the standard country style songs of lost love, Brown pays tribute to a very special woman.  He sings in this song, “Where the wind blows baby/you can bet/I’ll be ridin’ high with it/holdin’ on for my dear life just like I always did/Close yoru eyes babe/take a breath/say my name/and I’ll be there/My love will find you anywhere/anywhere, my love.”  The guitar breaks and musical backing in general make this one of the album’s top songs.  It would be no surprise if this song becomes one of the album’s singles.

Fans of ZBB in North Carolina will take pride knowing that “Uncaged” was recorded in the old north state.  It was recorded at Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording.  Among the big name artists and bands that have recorded at Echo Mountain are the likes of:  Dierks Bentley, Darkest Hour, Soilwork, Smashing Pumpkins, and T. Bone Burnett, just to name a handful.  The studio’s list of who has recorded there is far longer. 

“Uncaged” is available in stores and online now.  The band is currently touring in support of the album.  Fans in North Carolina will get to see the band live when it makes a stop at Charlotte’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.  Fans can keep up with all the latest news and tour dates from Zac Brown band online in the meantime at http://www.zacbrownband.com, http://www.facebook.com/zacbrownband, and http://twitter.com/zacbrownband.

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Cody Simpson Brings Fans Installment Three Of Summer Video Series

Teen pop sensation Cody Simpson has released the newest video in his Wish You Were Here Summer Series. In the series’ third brand new installment, Cody and company take fans along for the ride for the group’s performance at the OC Fair. Fans get to see Cody on stage, behind the scnees and interacting with fans before and after the show. It’s all set to Simpson’s song, “Wish You Were Here.”  Just click the link right here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhJJWrkBYPc.  The first two episodes of Cody’s series are also available online now.  Episode 1 can be viewed at http://youtu.be/5TP1Mu5Hu4W.  Episode 2 can be seen at the link here:  http://youtu.be/TmbuGSUhom4.
While fans watch the latest episode from Cody’s Wish You Were Here Summer Series, they can also check out his “Preview to Paradise” EP on iTunes at http://bit.ly/TWSPreviewtoParadise. Fans can also follow all the latest news and tour information from Cody online at http://www.codysimpson.com, http://www.facebook.com/codysimpsonmusic, http://twitter.com/codysimpson, http://www.youtube.com/codysimpsonmusic, and http://www.myspace.com/codysimpsonmusic.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.