Santana Shows The Way In The Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Live CDs List

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Experiencing a live performance of one’s favorite act(s) is a very special event.  That is because it serves to help fans and their favorite acts connect in a way that taking in said acts’ studio releases just can’t.  What’s more attending live concerts isn’t always easy or inexpensive.  Between the cost of tickets, food, souvenirs, gas, and lodging, attending concerts can cost almost as much as a used car sometimes, depending on the act.  In other cases, one’s favorite acts might never even come near one’s town.  So what is a person to do to experience one’s favorite acts?  The answer is simple: the live recording.  That brings us to the topic of today’s “Best Of” list.

Today, Phil’s Picks presents its list of the year’s Top 10 New Live CDs.  Everyone should understand this is distinguished from the year’s top new live DVDs and BDs.  That’s because some recordings come only on CD while others are only presented on the latter format.  Others are also presented in both formats both separate of one another and collectively.  The recordings included in this list include both standalone CDs and CDs included in complete DVD/BD/CD sets.  One of the standalone live CDs included in this list is ZZ Top’s new live recording Greatest Hits Live.  The Outlaws’ Legacy Live is another of those standalone CD recordings.  Joe Bonamassa also has a new live recording in the form of Live at the Greek Theatre that is available on separate CD, DVD, and BD platforms.  It’s on this list, too.  Suffice it to say, there’s a healthy mix of new live titles here both in terms of genre and platform.  So, enough rambling.  Presented here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Live CDs.

It should be noted here again that the list includes the Phil’s Picks Top 10 new Live CDs as well as five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 recordings.




  1. Santana IV Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas
  1. ZZ TopGreatest Hits Live
  1. Judas PriestBattle Cry
  1. KISSKISS Rocks Vegas
  1. Joe Bonamassa Live at the Greek Theatre
  1. The OutlawsLegacy Live

  2. The Rolling StonesHavana Moon

  3. Motley Crue – The End: Live in Los Angeles

  4. SaxonFeel Your Power

  5. Imagine DragonsSmoke + Mirrors Live

  6. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression

  7. Ayreon – The Theater Equation
  8. Pete Townshend’s Deep EndFace The Face

  9. Wacken 201526 Years Louder Than Hell

  10. LeprousLive at Rockefeller Center


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Coma Ecliptic Is Yet Another Impressive Effort From One Of Prog-Metal’s Leaders

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Between The Buried and Me is one of the top names in the progressive music community today and more specifically the prog-rock and metal communities. Ever since its formation in 2000, the North Carolina-based band has remained well under the mainstream radar but still managed to consistently build its fan base. It has built that fan base by consistently re-inventing itself from one album to the next over the course of its past seven albums. Now with the release of its eighth full-length studio recording Coma Ecliptic, released this summer, the band has re-invented itself yet again and once more proven why it has continued to build its fan base and reputation within the rock and metal realms. Much like its previous pairing of recordings released via Metal Blade Records–The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues (EP–2011) and The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012)–the band’s latest effort is another concept record. While technically being only the band’s second full-length concept record, it is still completely unlike The Parallax and its “sequel” and any of the band’s other previous offerings. This applies both in terms of the album’s musical and lyrical content. Both elements are key to the album’s overall listening experience. Bringing everything full circle here is the album’s production and final mix. The work of those behind the boards resulted in an album that captures every nuance of the band members’ work from beginning to end. All things considered, Coma Ecliptic proves to be yet another impressive addition to BTBAM’s already impressive body of work and another work deserving of its own spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Between The Buried and Me’s latest full-length studio effort is one of the best of this year’s crop of new hard rock and metal offerings. It is also one more example of why the North Carolina-based prog-metal act is one of the leading names within the prog-metal and metal communities today. The main reason that it proves to be such an impressive record is its lyrical content. Long-time fans will be pleased to know that with this record, the band didn’t just go and make another album along the lines of its 2011 EP The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues and its 2012 follow-up The Parallax II: Future Sequence. Rather the band opted for something completely different. The concept behind this record is the story of a man who puts himself intentionally into a coma in order to escape a world with which he has become rather disenfranchised. The result of the decision is that the unnamed subject finds that he has lived many times before. As he travels through these past lives, he is faced with more than one tough choice along the way and a result that is just as interesting as the story itself. The premise itself is not the first time that a prog-rock or prog-metal band has covered such a topic. Audiences can find related topics in albums from Dream Theater (Metropolis 2000) and Ayreon (The Theory of Everything) just to name a couple examples. The concepts presented in those albums are similar to the one presented here but are still separate from that presented in Coma Ecliptic. It is a concept that is certain to really have fans and audiences in general thinking and talking on so many levels. Considering that, Coma Ecliptic’s lyrical content forms a solid foundation on which the rest of its positives sit solidly, making in turn an album that is one of the best of the year’s prog-metal offerings and hard rock and metal offerings in whole.

The concept behind BTBAM’s latest full-length effort does plenty to make the record a great listen for fans and audiences in general. It does so much in fact that it alone is more than enough reason for any critic to add Coma Ecliptic to their list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums. It is just one part of what makes the album such a success. The album’s musical makeup plays just as much of a role in its success as its lyrical content. Just as the band switched things up and re-invented itself lyrically so did it re-invent itself musically, too. That is because there is no way that the sound used as the backing for the band’s Parallax records could have possibly worked with this record. Most notable of the sound presented throughout this record is that front man Tommy Rogers’ death metal growls are used far less here than in the band’s previous records. There are more clean vocals utilized from start to finish than in any of the band’s previous offerings. That is not necessarily a bad thing. That is because it allows Rogers to show even more the range of his vocal abilities. Just as interesting to note about the record’s sound is its noticeable similarity to the work of Dream Theater. More specifically, one can hear hints of the band’s 2007 record Systematic Chaos at points throughout this record. The addition of the electronic sound exhibited in ‘Dim Ignition’ adds even more variety, and in turn interest, to the album. It sounds like something that one might expect from Daft Punk with its keyboards. And that’s not a bad thing, either. As a matter of fact, the mysterious tone established through this sound and the song’s musical content, which seems to hint that the album’s subject is experiencing one of his past lives, paint a vivid picture that will definitely keep listeners engaged and thinking. It is just one of so many examples of how the evolution of BTBAM’s sound makes the album in whole such an intriguing and enjoyable new record. Together with its overall lyrical content, Coma Ecliptic shows even more why it is one of the best of this year’s crop of new hard rock and metal albums.

The musical and lyrical content put on display throughout the course of Coma Ecliptic does quite a bit to prove just how impressive BATBAM’s new record is. For all of the positives exhibited through the record’s musical and lyrical content, neither would be of any consequence without solid production. Luckily, that producer Jamie King’s work behind the glass resulted in an album that expertly balanced every tiny nuance of the album throughout the course of its sixty-eight minute run time. The fact that King has worked with the band on a significant portion of its album is the most likely reason that the production values were so impressive on this latest effort. He and the band members (even with the band’s lineup changes through the years) have gotten to know one another well enough that they each know what the other thinks will work best in any given situation. Thus, he was able to pinpoint exactly where certain riffs and fills should go or where Rogers should rely more on one vocal style versus another or even where emphasis should be placed on one note or another. Through it all, the partnership between King and the band resulted in an album that maintains BTBAM’s signature feel without rehashing the sound of the band’s previous albums. That familiarity and originality coupled with the album’s overall original concept comes together to once more show why Coma Ecliptic is another impressive offering from BTBAM and another of this year’s best hard rock and metal albums.

Between the Buried and Me’s latest full-length studio recording Coma Ecliptic is one of the band’s best works to date. The original story that makes up the body of the record and its equally creative sound work in tandem to make it a record that both the band’s long-time fans and audiences in general will enjoy and appreciate in so many ways. The work of the band’s long-time friend and producer Jamie King on this latest effort rounds out the record’s positive. His familiarity and friendship with the band (and vice versa) results in an album that is expertly balanced from beginning to end with all the right emphasis placed in all the right spots while other spots are reserved just enough to have the utmost emotional impact right to the album’s end. All things considered, Coma Ecliptic will do anything but put listeners into a coma. Rather, it is an album that will keep listeners fully engaged right to the album’s end and will even have them talking on so many levels even after its finale. Having such a wide impact, it proves once and for all why it is yet another impressive effort from one of the leading names in the prog-metal and metal communities today, and why it is also one of the best of this year’s crop of new hard rock and metal albums. Coma Ecliptic is available now in stores and online and BTBAM is currently taking some much-needed and well deserved time off before hitting the road again next month in its continued support of Coma Ecliptic. The next leg of the band’s tour includes another stop in its home state on Thursday, December 17th. The full schedule for the next leg of the band’s tour is available online now along with all of the latest news from the band at:




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Ayreon Turning Classic Album Into New Live Stage Production

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Eleven years after it was originally released on CD, prog-rock band Ayreon will bring its concept record The Human Equation to life.

InsideOut Music announced today that Ayreon will present “The Human Equation Theater Experience” this fall. The once-in-a-lifetime theater production will be presented Tuesday, September 8th – Thursday, September 20th at the nieuwe Luxor theater. It is being presented by the production company Shadow Freaks, which is led by Aryeon founder Arjen Athony Lucassen’s former manager Yvette Boertje. The original list of vocalists tapped to perform on The Human Equation will also be part of the album’s live theaterproduction. That list includes: James LaBrie, Devon Graves, Heather Findlay, Eric Clayton, Marcela Bovio, Magnus Ekwall, Irene Jansen, Wudstik, Anneke van Giersbergen and Mike Mills.

Along with the record’s original cast of vocalists, the theater production will also feature Ed Warby, Johan van Stratum, Jeroen Goossens, Ben Mathot and Maaike Peterse, Marcel Coenen, Freek Gielen, Erik van Ittersum and Ruben Wijga. Joost van den Broek will serve as music director and arranger. The production will also feature performances from The Epic Rock Choir, which was assembled especially for the show.

Originally, “The Human Equation Theater Experience” was going to run only three dates. But those dates sold out so fast that a fourth performance on the afternoon of the 19th was added. At the time of this posting, tickets for that fourth showing were still available and could be purchased online at More information on the show, including its full cast and more is available at this same website as well as via Facebook and Twitter at:



The story behind The Human Equation follows a comatose man battling his emotions within his own mind as he lays in his hospital bed. He also encounters memories both good and bad along the way that lead to some powerful revelations and hope-filled desires. At the story’s end, the man is left to choose: Does he wake up and live or does he die?

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