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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Atreyu, 36 Crazyfists Announce December Tour Dates

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records/Epitaph Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records/Epitaph Records

There’s big news for fans of Atreyu. The band announced today that it will join Falling in Reverse this December for a short series of live dates.

Atreyu will join Falling in Reverse this December for a short run of dates through the Pacific Northwest and West Coast. The tour, which kicks off December 11th in Boulder, Colorado, is a co-headlining tour for the bands. The complete schedule for the bands’ tour is listed below.


12/11: Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theater
12/14: Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
12/15: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
12/17: San Francisco, CA @ Warfield Theater
12/18: Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
12/19: Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
12/20: Fresno, CA @ Woodward Park Rotary Amphitheater

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

While Atreyu joins Falling in Reverse, Atreyu’s label mates in 36 Crazyfists will the road this December for the band’s own series of West Coast dates. The band will hit the road for a late fall tour that kicks off December 2nd in Seattle, Washington. The headlining tour is the band’s latest set of dates in support of its latest effort and Spinefarm Records debut LP Time and Trauma, which will be released on vinyl for the first time this Friday, October 16th. The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.


12/2: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
12/3: Portland, OR @ Ash Street Saloon
12/4: San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
12/5: San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
12/6: Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar
12/10: Las Vegas, NV @ Adrenaline Sports Lounge
12/12: Reno, NV @ PB&J’s
12/17: Barranco/Lima, Peru @ Sargento Pimienta de Barranco
12/18: Playa Chinchirro, Arica @ Discotheque Saho
12/19: Santiago, Santiago, @ Teatro Cariola

More information on Atreyu’s upcoming tour is available online along with its latest news at:




More information on 36 Crazyfists’ upcoming tour is available online, too along with its latest news at:




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Atreyu’s Latest LP “Lives” Up To Its Hype

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Orange County, California is one of the most important cities in the music industry today. It has been one of the country’s major hotbeds of music at least since the 1980s producing such big name acts as: Agent Orange, The Vandals, Pennywise, and so many others. One of those others, Atreyu, just recently released its sixth full-length studio offering after a four-year break. The album, Long Live, is a solid return for the veteran metalcore band. That is made clear right from the album’s outset. The album’s title track/opener is a full-throttle piece that is like a musical punch to the gut with lyrics that will move listeners just as much with their defiant stance. The album’s mid-point ‘Do You Know Who You Are’ is just as impressive of an example of the fire that has been re-lit beneath the band’s members after their obviously much-needed break. Musically speaking, it is far much simpler than the rest of the songs that make up the album’s body. The social commentary of sorts held within the song’s lyrical content makes it just as impressive and interesting as the album’s title track/opener and its other included compositions. ‘Brass Balls,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is one more prime example of just how impressive this album is overall. Much like ‘Do You Know Who You Are,’ this song is noticeably different from the rest of the album’s other songs but in its own specific way. It comes across musically as a more straight forward hard rock song than the metalcore sound for which the band has come to be known over the course of its life. It is just one more example of what makes this record a solid, standout return for Atreyu. Together with the previously noted songs and those not directly noted here, the album in whole proves that the break taken by Atreyu’s members only did them good. As listeners will note in hearing all twelve of the album’s tracks the good done by the band’s break resulted in an album here that could easily be called one of the band’s best records to date and potentially one more of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Long Live is a fitting title for Atreyu’s sixth full-length studio effort and its first since 2009’s Congregation of the Damned. That is because the record, which can be argued to be one of the best of this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums, makes such a bold statement from the band after having taken its extended vacation. It is a statement of a band that is recharged and ready to take on both the music world and the world in whole once again with its own brand of hard rock. That is proven right from the album’s outset in its title track/opener. The song is a full-throttle, musical punch to the gut that instantly takes long-time fans back to the days of its 2006 full-length recording A Death-Grip On Yesterday and its 2004 album Curse. Guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel’s dual attack serves as the song’s foundation while drummer Brandon Saller and vocalist Alex Varkatzas give the song even more power with their own parts. Bassist Porter McKnight is just as impressive as he builds the song’s harmonies though his line. In regards to its lyrical content, the song makes just as powerful of a statement as that made by its musical content. Varkatzas screams in this song, “The past is the past/What has been done is set to stone/The future is all we have/We are the ones who set the tone/And if I should fall/The ground won’t touch me at all/We’re up in arms/Side by side/Linked in our souls. Those last two lines in which he screams, “We’re up in arms/Side by side/Linked in our souls” are perhaps the song’s most telling lines. That is because it says to the world the band is united and stronger than ever. It tells all the critics and naysayers out there that the band is going to do what it wants. There won’t be any searching for approval or special ceremonies, as noted in the song’s lead verse. The band’s members are going to collectively do what they have always done. And that is make the best music that they can for themselves and their fans regardless of what those negative types might think and/or say. Audiences can hear the song for themselves and check out the song’s companion video online now via YouTube at It is a good start for the band in its return and is only the beginning in every sense of the phrase, too. The album has plenty more to offer fans from here including another of the album’s highest points ‘Do You Know Who You Are.’

‘Long Live’ is a solid opener for Atreyu’s long-anticipated new album and just as much of a welcome re-introduction for the band after its extended hiatus. It is just one example of what makes this new recording such a solid return for the band, too. ‘Do You Know Who You Are,’ the album’s latest single, is another example of how much this album has to offer fans. The central reason that it proves itself such an impressive addition to the album in whole is its musical content. Speaking in terms of the song’s musical content it stands out clearly from every other song included in this record. It offers its own punch. Bu there is also a certain vulnerability displayed by the band in the song’s chorus. Through the course of the song’s nearly four-minute run time the combination of that musical power and vulnerability makes the song another impressive addition to the album in whole. Its musical content is only one part of what makes it such an impressive composition, too. Its lyrical side makes it just as powerful as that of its musical content. The song’s lyrical content presents an introspective commentary of sorts that will undoubtedly have listeners thinking deeply about themselves. As Saller sings in the song’s chorus, “Do you know who you are/Part of the solution or the one at fault/Look in your heart.” The question here is clear. Varkatzas adds to the song’s depth as he screams, “Pull the pin/Be Careful where the fragments go/Live for yourself/Don’t care about collateral/Damage and such don’t mean too much/When your head’s stuck up in your own a*****/It’s easy not to see (so easy)/To be blind to the fact that the problems/That lay before us as a we/Were created by the lack of our respect.” The statement here is just as clear. This is Varkatzas saying that we bring on our own problems and downfalls just as much as we bring upon ourselves our own positives by our actions. It brings the song full circle and drives home that question, “Do You Know Who You Are?” It really forces listeners to ask that of themselves when they look in that proverbial mirror. The combination of that deep, introspective lyrical content and equally powerful musical content makes the song in whole yet another clear example of what makes Long Live such a welcome return for Atreyu. Audiences can hear the song for themselves and see the song’s companion video online now via YouTube at

Both ‘Long Live’ and ‘Do You Know Who You Are’ are clear examples in their own right of why Atreyu’s new album is such a welcome return for the veteran metalcore band. While both songs show in their own way what makes Long Live such a welcome return for Atreyu, they are only a small sample of what makes this record such a solid collection of songs. ‘Brass Balls,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is yet another clear example of what makes the album a successful return for the band. As with ‘Do You Know Who You Are’ this song stands just as much on its own merits. In regards to its musical content, it comes across as more of a mainstream style composition than the band’s trademark metalcore sound that makes up the majority of the record. It opens with an almost surf punk style guitar riff that throws back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair before becoming more of a straight forward, driving sound that would fit in nicely with any mainstream radio station’s daily playlist. Saller’s time keeping keeps the song moving forward at a solid pace throughout the song’s almost three and a half-minute run time. The song’s lyrical content added to those positive musical elements make the song even more enjoyable. That is because of its no nonsense approach. Varkatzas sends a strong message to those people who love to talk so much garbage not necessarily about the band but about people in general–the bullies if one will. He sings, “There you go you dumb kid/Running your mouth again and again/Talking all that s*** with a big grin/Tripping on words again and again/Oh how exceptional the sound/Of your word vomit coming out/You’re getting caught up saying foolish things/I don’t believe half that s*** you say.” He goes on just as brutally in the song’s second verse, “Lay yourself down on the tracks/Be crucified by your own words/You’re no cross bearer/Your’e not a f****** martyr/Just a kid/Only a fool/Barely man enough to stand.” The only word that can best describe this verbal assault is “brutal.” He is going for the jugular here against those trash talking bullies that thrive on making others miserable and themselves the object of their own delusional grandeur. That full-on verbal attack coupled with the song’s equally driving musical content makes for a song that can easily said to be one of this album’s highest of highs. It’s not the only high presented throughout the course of the album’s twelve total tracks as noted by the previously discussed songs. All three songs set against the rest of the songs not noted here make Long Live an album that audiences will agree in the end is one of the band’s best albums to date and one of the best of this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.

It is safe to say of Atreyu’s new album Long Live that at least among the band’s fans it was one of this year’s most anticipated new records. It is the band’s first full-length record in roughly six years. That is an eternity in the music world. Considering just the trio of songs noted here , it can be said that the album has lived up to its expectations. That is not to take away from any of the remaining half-dozen tracks not noted directly here. All twelve songs taken collectively into consideration, they make Long Live a record that will live long in fans’ ears and minds. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online at More information on Long Live is available online now along with all of Atreyu’s latest news at:



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Atreyu Debuts Video For Title Track From Its Long-Awaited New Album

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Search + Destroy

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Search + Destroy

The wait is almost over for fans of the veteran rock band Atreyu.

This fall, the band will rise again after a self-imposed year-long hiatus and release its new album Long Live. The album will be released Friday, September 18th via Spinefarm/ Search + Destroy. In anticipation of the album’s impending release, the band debuted the video for the album’s title track this week. Audiences can check out the rather interesting video now via YouTube at

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Search + Destroy

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Search + Destroy

The video sees the band’s members being abducted by a group of hooded beings which rise from a lake in search of each one. Even more interesting is that each of the beings trails behind it a coffin pulled by a chain. As the video progresses, it is obvious that the coffins are meant for the band’s members. Of course that is only part of the story as fans will discover in watching the video for themselves. The identity of the beings is revealed as the video progresses. The reveal in question plays directly into the video’s story and the song itself.

The new video was helmed by the band’s bassist Porter McKnight. Mcknight discussed his role in both writing and directing the video with members of the press expressing just how exciting it was for him and how much it meant to be given the responsibility of bringing it to life. “To be at the helm of a project that holds so much love and joy for provides an indescribable sense of excitement and pleasure,” he said. “It is truly a fantastic experience and an honor unlike any I’ve ever known. Writing/directing the music video for ‘Long Live’ has easily been one of the most exhilarating and fruitful artistic endeavors I’ve been a part of. This was my first attempt at either role and I have to say it was an absolute pleasure.” He added in his discussion his excitement about the album and fans’ reaction to it saying, The album Long Live (and the title track!) is without a doubt the best music we’ve ever written and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

McKnight wasn’t the ony one that was pleased with the video’s outcome. His band mates were just as excited. Drummer Brandon Saller said of the video, “This is my favorite video we’ve ever created. We were fortunate to have our own Porter McKnight at the helm with the art direction and video.” Guitarist Dan Jacobs noted that it will definitely live up to fans’ expectations saying, “I’m so pumped to show this video to the world. “We’ve worked very hard on this record and video, especially our own Porter McKnight, who directed it, so words can’t express how excited we are to share it with everyone. It’s by far the most epic video we have ever made and the face-melting level is on 11. Warning: Uncontrollable head banging will occur.”

Front man Alex Varkatzas noted his positive outlook in regards to the video especially in its connection to the album in whole saying, “‘Long Live’ is by far my favorite Atreyu video, which is fitting because our new record, titled Long Live, is the strongest Atreyu record to date,”

Long Live will be available in stores and online on Friday, September 18th. It is available now for pre-order in a number of bundle packs. The items included in the bundle packs include items that reflect the interest of the band members. They include: a bicycle, a surf board, skate deck, A Dan Jacobs guitar, a drumhead used in the recording of Long Live, canvas prints and even muay thai gloves. Along with commenting on the band’s new video and album, Saller also shared his thoughts on the pre-order bundles for the album, noting that the band didn’t want to just make the pre-orders like every other pre-orders from other bands. The band wanted to give its fans something special, especially since it had been on hiatus for so long. “We wanted to make the pre-order options interesting and have items for the true collector,” he said. Grab your pre-order and get the title track instantly. Then, I recommend going to your car, cranking it up and driving fast while screaming your f**ing head off.” Fans can pre-order the album now online at The track listing for Long Live is noted below.


Long Live

Live to Labor

I Would Kill/Lie/Die (For You)

Cut Off the Head

A Bitter Broken Memory

Do You Know Who You Are

Revival (interlude)

Heartbeats and Flatlines

Brass Balls

Moments Before Dawn

Start to Break


Atreyu wil hit the road this fall in support of Long Live. It will kick off its tour on the album’s release date in Pamona, California. It currently has dates scheduled in the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic region as well as one date in Canada. The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.


9/18 | Pomona, Calif. | The Glasshouse

9/19 | Sacramento, Calif. | Ace of Spades

9/20 | Los Angeles, Calif. | Troubadour

10/2 | Detroit, Mich. | Crofoot Ballroom

10/3 | Louisville, Ky. | Louder Than Life Festival*

10/5 | Toronto, ON | Opera House

10/6 |Montreal, QC | Corona Theater

10/7 | New York, N.Y. | Irving Plaza

10/9 | Boston, Mass. | Paradise Rock Club

10/10 | Philadelphia, Pa. | Rockhouse Philly Fest*

10/11 |Baltimore, Md. |Baltimore Sound Stage

10/12 Norfolk, VA The Norva

*Festival Appearance

All of the latest updates on the band’s tour is available online now along with all of the latest updates from the band at:




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Hell or Highwater An Early Contender For 2013’s Best Rock Record List

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment, Inc.

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment, Inc.

The debut album from Orange County, California’s own Hell or Highwater is a solid slab of All-American made rock and roll.  The new project from Atreyu front man Brandon Saller boasts a sound that is obviously different from what Atreyu put out.  But it is still a good solid record that true hardcore fans will enjoy and appreciate.  It will be just as appreciated and enjoyed by fans of the likes of Black Stone Cherry and others of that ilk.  Saller and his band mates make quite the first impression with this debut in the album’s opener, ‘Gimme Love.’  The way this song is written, it comes across as a musical love letter to a woman.  Rather than being another one of those songs that goes on about the difficulties of life on the road, Saller sings that he knows it’s tough loving a musician.  But at the same time, the figure in the song has every intention of being with said love interest.  He makes this clear in the song’s opening verse singing, “It’s hard/Living loving a music man/I’m not a saint/And I make mistakes/But I’m just doing the best I can/These lonely days/Are coming to an end my dear/Future’s on fire/It’s burning brighter than ever before.  He goes on to sing his declaration of love for his woman even though he knows he’s not perfect, “Baby I swear this love is true/Darling I do this all for you.”  The poppy-up tempo music backing these heartfelt yet not too sappy lyrics make for a solid opening for the band’s first full length effort.  The enjoyment doesn’t end here.  From here, audiences are offered a whole baker’s dozen count of songs from which to choose their favorites.  Just one other example of what audiences have to look forward to in that mass of songs is ‘When The Morning Comes.’

‘When The Morning Comes’ succeeds for the same reason as the album’s opener.  Both musically and lyrically, it’s one of those uplifting songs that will leave any listener feeling good.  Saller sings of feeling emotions and thinking thoughts that we’ve all thought before, but despite all of it, having the strength to push on.  He sings that he’ll be better “when the morning comes” and to “forget yesterday/Today’s mine!”  It’s a not so metaphorical way of saying, “I’ll make it through the night.  No matter how bad things get, I’ve got my family and my friends and they give me strength.”  The song’s music helps to illustrate that positive vibe, too.  Its up-tempo guitar riffs and major chords combine with the optimistic lyrical side to make for a song that will easily become a fan favorite both on the album and on the road if it isn’t already a live favorite.  The band keeps that same positive vibe from here as it transitions into ‘Crash & Burn.’

‘Crash & Burn’ is just as impressive as ‘When The Morning Comes’ as it carries that same sense of knowing how tough life is but it’s not too tough to handle.  Saller makes that clear as he sings, “Live for the chase/Survive by the thrill/If you want me to take this step/I will/No longer afraid/No longer at bay/Longing to face my fears but still/A promise is made/To change who I am/No looking back/We’ll fight to the end/A promise in vain/Is a promise to break/Your life is only yours to make.  Again, there is that openly positive vibe that so much of today’s rock music needs, in place of the constant shoe-gazer, “oh poor me” mentality that is thrown out by so many bands.  Add in equally uplifting musical backing by the band and this song becomes just one more of so many highlights from this album.  It clocks in at just over three minutes long.  In that three minutes plus, it shows that it’s possible to be positive and still rock out.  And combined with the album’s other material it helps to make this album an early contender to be one of the year’s best general rock records.

Begin Again will be available in stores and online beginning February 5th.  As everybody counts down the days to the release of the band’s debut, the band is touring in support of it.  The band will be performing tonight, January 8th, in Mobile, Alabama.  It follows up tonight’s show with a pair of performance in Florida Thursday and Friday respectively.  There are even more dates planned after these shows.  To get a full listing of tour dates, fans can go online to the band’s Facebook page, .  Fans can also get the band’s tour dates, full album lyrics and even more on the band’s official website,  And for all the latest news from the band, fans can follow its members on Twitter at

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