Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock Succeeds In Its “Mission”

Courtesy:  inakustic

Courtesy: inakustic

Michael Schenker has had quite the storied career. He has recorded and performed with both UFO and Scorpions over the course of his decades-long career. He has also recorded and performed with his own band, Michael Schenker Group. The music that he has crafted with both UFO and Scorpions is considered some of the greatest in rock’s modern history. The music that he has crafted with his own band has proven to be just as enjoyable for his fans. Now with the recent release of Spirit on a Mission, the new album from his latest project, Temple of Rock, Schenker can add another mark to his already extensive resume. This album is a one more album that every rock purist should have in his or her own music library. The twelve-track album mixes the bombast of his former bands’ arena rock sound with something heavier and more focused. The end result of those sounds is a record that could potentially be another of this year’s best new rock records. The proof for this argument comes early on in the album’s second song ‘Communion.’ This is such an interesting song because its blues-infused rock sound is a direct contradiction to its lyrical content. Another piece that makes Temple of Rock’s new album so interesting is ‘Saviour Machine.’ Anyone that is a fan of Black Label Society will like the song’s familiar, heavier sound. The song’s lyrical side makes it just as interesting. The song’s lyrical content comes across as a personal commentary of sorts. Both elements together make it yet another example of why this record stands out in an increasingly crowded field of rock records. While both ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ each present their own proof as to what makes Spirit on a Mission so enjoyable for rock purists, they are just part of what makes this album stand out. The aptly titled ‘Rock City’ helps make the record stand out just as much. This full-on rock song throws back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair with its musical side. Its lyrical side is just as classic with front man Doogie White’s subject singing to a girl that he’ll give her everything. Those classic lyrics and straight-forward, driving tempo will put a smile on any rock purist’s face as he or she sings along. Whether for this song, the others noted, or those not noted, audiences will agree in listening to Temple of Rock’s new album that Spirit on a Mission more than succeeds in its mission.

Spirit on a Mission is a solid follow-up to Michael Schenker’s 2011 album Temple of Rock. From start to finish, this twelve-track record succeeds in its mission as it will both entertain listeners and have them thinking with its mix of music and lyrics. This is made clear early on in the album’s second track ‘Communion.’ It is such an interesting song because Schenker’s blues-infused rock sound is a direct contradiction to the lyrics penned by front man Doogie White. The song’s lyrical content comes across as presenting the standard story of a broken relationship. The situation for the couple in this song seemingly starts out fine, as White sings, “Watch as the candle gives out the light/Show me the pages/On which the ink won’t dry/Tell me your secrets as the candle burns low/Whisper you love me/Then it’s on with the show.” It doesn’t take long for things to go south and White’s subject to end up alone. White sings in the song’s final verse, “Now that it’s over/I cried in my sleep/Woke in the morning/With the secrets you keep/Give you my best/I gave you a little bit more/A slap in the face when you slammed the door/I don’t belong here no more.” Considering these lyrics, one wouldn’t think this song would have the solid blues-infused sound that it boasts. It’s definitely not the pairing that one would expect when thinking about such lyrical topics. Having such an uncommon dichotomy, it more than proves itself on of the most notable of this album’s songs. Thus it definitely stands out as at least one piece that makes this record well worth the listen.

The surprisingly entertaining musical and lyrical dichotomy presented in ‘Communion’ makes it a clear example of just what this latest effort from Michael Schenker has to offer listeners. Considering that not many acts would take such a chance as that taken here says quite a bit. That the chance taken has paid off here says even more. It’s just one of the album’s many smaller successes that make Spirit on a Mission its own success in whole. ‘Saviour Machine’ shows in its own way why Spirit on a Mission is such a success. This song is one of a pair of pieces that displays a different side to Temple of Rock on this record. It is a much heavier tune than others musically speaking. Those that are fans of Black Label Society will especially enjoy its slower, heavier sound. Lyrically speaking, it is just as certain to have listeners talking. Written by Doogie White, Michael Schenker, and Wayne Findlay, the song’s lyrical side comes across as a commentary of sorts. This inference can be made `as the trio writes, “We passed the point of no return/We stood and watch as cities burned/The sound of laughter cuts the night/Destroyed your world with my despite.” The trio goes on to write in the song’s second verse, “The soldiers marching off to war/Wonder what the hell they’re dying for/So speaks the tongue of the liar/As mountains crumble to the seas/Their hearts are crushed by man’s disease/And now they bathe in the sorrow.” As the song’s chorus states, this is coming from the vantage point of a very cynical figure. The figure almost says with a grin, “Your world is shakin’ and I don’t hear you call/Just scream my name/Hail the saviour machine.” It could be argued that the message presented here is a commentary about people’s indifference to everything going on in the world until things get to their absolute worst. That’s when people seem to really turn to a higher power. As always, that interpretation could be entirely off. It is merely this critic’s interpretation. Right or wrong, it proves in the end to be a really heavy piece both musically and lyrically. Being so heavy both musically and lyrically, it shows clearly why it is yet another prime example of why any rock purist should hear both this song and Spirit on a Mission in whole even if only once.

Both ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ are important additions to Spirit on a Mission. They both exhibit a certain heaviness in their own way. The same can be said of the band’s full-on tribute to the golden days of rock that is ‘Rock City.’ This song will take listeners back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair right from its first strains. Its straight-forward, driving tempo and classic lyrics about a man wanting to give a woman everything will put a smile on any listener’s face. In all honesty, anyone that knows their music history will instantly equate the song to Judas Priest’s hit song ‘Freewheel Burning’ thanks to those opening moments. This applies both to Schenker’s work on guitar and drummer Herman Rarebell’s solid time keeping. On the lyrical side, White sings, “Your broken heart, girl/Can still be mended/Stay with me until the morning comes/It’s a long road to nowhere/Believe me when I say you gotta give me some more/We’re gonna rock this city/This city of love.” Considering this and some of the song’s other lyrics, one would actually associate this song more with the classic love ballads of the 80s. But thanks to the juxtaposition of the song’s full-on musical side to these lyrics, it gives the song a whole other identity. The pairing of the two elements within the song makes the song come across as that of a man who really wants to make things work and make a woman happy. Compared to so many overly sappy, over-the-top ballads that were crafted by the bands of the 80s (and even 90s) a song such as this is a great contradiction to those songs. And it is also just as great of an addition to Spirit on a Mission. It is one more way that this album proves Schenker and his Temple of Rock band mates definitely succeed in their mission with this record, one of the best new rock records of 2015.

‘Rock City’, ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ each show in their own way why Spirit on a Mission succeeds in its mission of entertaining audiences. They do so through the combination of both their musical and lyrical sides. While all three of the note songs each show in their own way that Spirit on a Mission succeeds in its missions, the album’s other tracks should not be ignored in that argument. ‘Bulletproof,’ ‘Let The Devil Scream,’ and ‘Wicked’–the album’s closer–each could be used to make that argument, too along with any of the other songs that make up this album. Regardless of which song(s) one picks, the result is the same. Listeners will agree that Spirit on a Mission succeeds wholly in entertaining audiences from its first track to its last. They will agree, too that that same entertainment makes it a solid candidate for any critic’s list come December for the year’s best new rock records. Spirit on a Mission is available now in stores and online. More information on Spirit on a Mission or any of Michael Schenker’s other projects is available online at:

Website: http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com/

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Alpha Tiger Leading The Pack Early With Its Latest Full-Length LP

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV

2014 was a great year for the worlds of rock and metal acts. Major names the likes of Exodus, Machine Head, Judas Priest, and Black Label Society all released new albums alongside a number of equally impressive up-and-coming bands the likes of The Amsterdam Red Light District, Zodiac, Royal Blood, and others. Now with 2015 not even a full month old, this still very young year is already looking just as good for the metal masses the world over. One sign of this is the upcoming new release from Germany’s own Alpha Tiger. Alpha Tiger will release its new album iDentity in the United States next Tuesday, January 20th. The album, the band’s third is a solid follow-up to the band’s 2011 debut Man or Machine and its followup, Beneath The Surface. The band wastes no time re-introducing itself to audiences on its new album. The band launches into things right off the top in the full throttle, socially conscious ‘Lady Liberty.’ The song is a commentary of sorts on the current state of things in America. On the other end of the spectrum, the band offers an uplifting piece in the positively-charged ‘Closer Than Yesterday.’ The album’s lead single ‘We Won’t Take It Anymore’ is just as powerful a song with its driving guitar riffs and powerhouse vocals from front man Stephan Dietrich. It is another very socially conscious piece that is sure to become a fan favorite if it isn’t already. It, along with the other noted songs are just one part of the whole that makes iDentity a great start to 2015 for the metal masses. The other tracks not noted here each play their own part in iDentity’s enjoyment. Together with the compositions noted here, all ten tracks that make up Alpha Tiger’s new album prove it to be a solid new album and a good start to 2015 for the metal masses.

Alpha Tiger’s upcoming new album iDentity is the band’s third full-length record in four years. Usually when an act releases so many albums in such a short amount of time, it can prove to be a bad thing. It can prove to be bad because in many cases there is a noticeable decline in the quality of said acts’ material. Said albums feel rushed for lack of better wording. In other cases, putting out albums so quickly also means that audiences can actually grow weary of said acts. This applies both to the bigger names in the music world and even to those signed to independent labels. In the case of iDentity, Alpha Tiger hasn’t suffered from any of those issues. The band impresses right off the top in its socially-charged opener ‘Lady Liberty.’ The very first thing that audiences will note in this song is the obvious influences from the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest on its musical side. The dual guitar attack of Peter Langforth and Alexander Backasch coupled with drummer David Schleif’s solid timekeeping and [Stephan] Dietrich’s vocal talents will easily fool audiences. Anyone hearing this song and not knowing it was Alpha Tiger would instantly think they were hearing either of the aforementioned greats. Lyrically speaking, it is just as much a solid opener with it’s seeming commentary on the current state of America. The seeming message in question comes across as Dietrich sings with obvious sarcasm in his voice, “Come on over hear the news/the day has come/Now we are free to choose/I Choose the path that’s best for me/Thank God to live the American dream.” The message is made even clearer later in the song as Dietrich sings, “I’m free to shoot a stranger down/I claim my right, He trod my ground/I’ll raise the flag of liberty/The lady on her hill will shine down on me.” It is only this critic’s own interpretation, but the line “I’m free to shoot a stranger down/I claim my right, He trod my ground” seems to make reference to the Treyvon Martin case and others like it. Regardless of the intended reference, such lyrics make for quite the indictment of a nation in whole. And they are sure to make quite the discussion. That discussion itself makes ‘Lady Liberty’ the perfect choice to open iDentity. The song’s musical backing makes even clearer why this song was chosen to open the album.

‘Lady Liberty’ was the perfect choice to open Alpha Tiger’s latest full-length release. It instantly grabs listeners by the ear with its fire and energy and refuses to let go. It boasts a lot of fire and energy both musically and lyrically. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Alpha Tiger offers a different kind of fire and energy in the uplifting Closer Than Yesterday.’ This song is the polar opposite of ‘Lady Liberty.’ But it is no less powerful. This song offers a welcome ray of hope to anyone going through a rough time both musically and lyrically. The song opens with a solid, driving piano riff that eventually builds into a full on arena-style song, musically speaking complete with huge guitar lick. One could almost argue something of a Bon Jovi influence to this song when one really sits down and listens to it for its musical side. That’s not an entirely bad thing, either. Now are the song’s equally uplifting lyrics. Dietrich sings in this song, “So don’t say you try/Just say you will/There is enough you left behind/It’s time to live!” The control in his voice as he sings these lyrics is something special. That control and gentility in his voice as he sings is like getting a musical pat on the back, reminding listeners that as tough as life gets, everything will be okay. He even goes so far as to sing, “I will step into the great unknown/Where dreams are made to become real/Yes I know it’s still a long way to go/But I’m closer than yesterday.” He comes across as saying that we must embrace the uncertainties in life without fear. We must embrace it because with each step forward we are “closer than yesterday” to defeating those uncertainties that cloud our minds. It is quite the positive reminder to audiences of all ages. That it can reach audiences of so many ages makes it even more powerful and in turn one more way in which iDentity works so well.

Both ‘Lady Liberty’ and ‘Closer Than Yesterday’ show why iDentity is a solid new effort from Aplha Tiger. Both songs are key examples of what makes the album so enjoyable because of the power both in their music and lyrics. The album’s lead single ‘We Won’t Take It Anymore’ boasts much the same energy and fire in its music and lyrics, too. And as with those songs, it too exhibits an obvious influence from the great veteran metal acts that have come before in its examining its musical side. Looking at the song from a lyrical vantage point, there is just as much fire as Dietrich sings “You call us hopeless generation/’Cause we won’t play by your rules/Or it’s because you can’t control us/Like your money hungry fools.” The pure defiant and infectious energy exuded by the band here will have the song resonating in listeners’ heads long after the song has ended. This is proven even more as Dietrich sings, “We won’t take it/Take it anymore/’Cause we are sick of it all/We won’t take it/Take it anymore/We’ve had it up to here.” It’s one more strong statement from Alpha Tiger that is sure to have listeners singing along proudly, pumping their fists in the air. If such striking lyrics and powerful music haven’t already made this single a hit among the band’s European fans, it won’t be long before it is. And when iDentity is released in the U.S., audiences will agree with that sentiment. They will agree with the sentiment regarding not only this song but the others mentioned here and those not noted. In hearing all of the songs that make up iDentity American audiences will discover what the band’s European fans already know–Alpha Tiger is one of the leaders of the rock world’s pack this year.

iDentity is scheduled to be released in the United States next Tuesday, January 20th. It has already been released overseas. And the band is currently on tour in Europe in support of its new album. Audiences around the world can find out the band’s latest tour updates and news online now at:

Website: http://www.alphatiger.de

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Tesla’s Tenth Album More Than Lives Up To Its Title

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Veteran rock band Tesla has maintained its place in the pantheon of rock for nearly three decades. Throughout the course of that time, so many other bands have come and gone leaving little to no mark on the world.  Tesla meanwhile has continued to create memorable songs on its own terms with each one of its albums, increasing its fan base with each album thanks to that continued display of talent and ingenuity on each record.  The band’s latest album, Simplicity, proves that continued ingenuity once again, providing listeners with songs that perfectly match the album’s title both in terms of its music and its lyrics from start to finish.  The album’s opener, ‘MP3’ is proof of that.  The song uses the seemingly endless stream of technological advances seen each year as the basis for a commentary about how technology has done more harm than good for the world.  The equally socially conscious powerhouse rocker ‘Time Bomb’ proves that this band can still hold its own with today’s younger bands and do so with ease for that matter.  Those that might want something softer but still holding some substance need look no further than the moving but still thought provoking ‘Life is a River.’  It’s one more example of how Simplicity more than lives up to its title with its mix of gentle music and inspiring lyrics.  Each one of the songs noted here proves in its own way why Simplicity lives up to its title.  Each one also proves why Simplicity could be a contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.  And that isn’t to discount the album’s other songs, either.  Every song on this record proves those arguments, too.  Together with the songs that are noted, this album proves to be very much a sleeper hit of a record.

Tesla’s new record Simplicity–its tenth overall full length studio effort–is a sleeper hit of a work.  The album mixes deep and thought provoking lyrics in every one of its fourteen total tracks with music that will have fans both on their feet rocking along at some points, and almost shedding tears of joy in others.  The album’s opener, ‘MP3′ is one example of that balance of substance in its lyrics and music together.  Front man Jeff Keith sings in this socially conscious song, “Reachin’ out to a friend in need/Is more important than a text from a cell phone screen/All these sounds of complication/In the cloud communication/Oh my god it’s taking me/From the phonograph record to the MP3/All the world is overrun with technology/Oh my God it seems to me/We gotta get back to simplicity/It’s plain to see/Rewind now!”  Keith makes no bones here about the topic being raised.  He is saying that technology has done more harm to the world than good.  He isn’t necessarily trying to preach and say technology is bad.  Don’t misinterpret that.  What he is saying is that humans have allowed technology to control their lives and the end result being a drastic depersonalization of people’s relationships on every level.  That Keith would present such a deep concept in such a simple (there’s that word again) makes the song the perfect choice to open this album.  The song’s equally simple and accessible musical backing adds to that argument, too.  Both aspects together make ‘MP3’ just part of the argument as to why Simplicity is an aptly titled release and also one of this year’s sleeper hit records.

Tesla’s members–Jeff Keith (vocals), Frank Hannon (guitar, vocals, piano, bass), Dave Rude (guitar, vocals, bass), Brian Wheat (bass, piano, vocals), and Troy Lucketta (drums and percussion)–prove right from the beginning of this record why it more than lives up to its title and why it is one of the year’s sleeper hits, thanks to ‘MP3.’  The combination of the song’s simple to understand yet still deep lyrics alongside its equally simple, accessible musical backing make it the perfect first statement from the band on this record.  Just as strong of an argument in support of Simplicity is ‘Time Bomb.’  This hard rocker is one part social statement and one part call to arms.  Keith sings in this song, “It’s like the lights are on but nobody’s home/There’s no other choice/Just one solution/So load up your guns/Cause freedom is won/It’s time we’ve begun a revolution/We’re ready to fight to save our lives/And willing to die/Oh no.”  He goes on to sing along with his band mates in the song’s chorus, “Let’s go deep into the fire/Screamin’ hell no we ain’t gonna run/Let’s go united all together/Cuz I know divided we’re done.”  He comes across as saying that Americans have got to put all of this political and other turmoil aside; that there are much more important things that unless we band together, will most certainly take us all down thanks to our division.  Just as with ‘MP3,’ that lyrical and musical simplicity serves once again to prove how much Simplicity lives up to its name in more ways than one.  Even more, it proves once more why this record is one of the year’s sleeper hits within the rock world.

Tesla proves throughout the course of Simplicity’s fourteen total tracks just why it lives up to its name with plenty of hard and hard-hitting songs.  That’s evident in the songs already noted and in the likes of the equally socially conscious ‘Flip Side!’   For all of that heavy lyrical and musical content, Simplicity proves that it can be hard and hard-hitting without actually being hard, too.  Case in point is the moving inspirational song ‘Life is a River.’  This song epitomizes the statement made years ago by Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde when he noted that a song can be heavy without actually being heavy in terms of its music.  It presents the message that just because someone sees something one way doesn’t necessarily make it so.  As he notes in the song’s second verse, “What you think is just a dog/Is one of my best friends/What you see as sawed up logs/Is the house that I live in/What you call a pile of stones/Is the foundation of my home/And we all know there’s nothing sweet as home sweet home.”  He is saying that everything in life is a matter of perception.  And that one’s perception is never the same as another’s.  From there, he gets to the core of the song, telling those listeners that might be suffering emotionally for whatever reason, their perception of life being worthless is their own perception and that life is so much more beautiful than they think.  He sings, “You’ve been left out once again/Standing in the rain/Now you feel you’ve reached the end/And you just can’t stand the pain/Even though you still remain/You’re God’s creation/This I know/Cuz’ life can be so beautiful.”  The ballad-style song perfectly builds up to that conclusion, making the song’s lyrical content so hard hitting even in its simplicity.  Once again, there is the argument as to Simplicity more than living up to its title.  The lyrics are simple to understand. And the music is so powerful in its own simplicity.  The two elements together make for one more outstanding statement from Tesla on this sleeper hit of a record.  Together with the previously noted songs (and those not noted directly), Tesla’s members have shown that they still have plenty of fire and that they, too have one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable rock records.

Simplicity shows from start to finish just why it more than lives up to its name.  The lyrics and music that make up each of the album’s fourteen tracks are simple in terms of understanding them and understanding what message they are conveying.  Each of the songs on this record are just as enjoyable thanks to their simple yet wonderfully entertaining music.  That combination makes for so much depth and substance.  That’s something that one can rarely say about albums churned out by today’s younger bands and artists.  Keeping that in mind, it proves Simplicity to be one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable records and potentially one of the year’s best new rock records.  Simplicity is available in stores and online now. The band currently is scheduled to perform as part of the Monsters of Rock Cruise Miami next spring from April 18th – 22nd.  While fans wait for spring to return, they can keep up with all of the latest tour updates and news from Tesla online at http://www.TESLAtheBand.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

BLS, Judas Priest Tied For The Top Spot On The Year’s Top New Hard Rock, Metal Albums List

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

Zakk Wylde and his Black Label brethren released early this year what is without a doubt one of the year’s most thought provoking albums.  Musically speaking, the album is classic Black Label Society from start to finish.  Lyrically, it proves to be a work that will most definitely have listeners paying close attention.  Those that have already picked up the album’s deluxe edition will understand why.  Throughout most of the course of the album, listeners are presented with songs centered on some rather deep themes.  By the time the album reaches its end in ‘The Nomad’ however, those themes have turned to a more positive light.  And it all starts with the album’s opener, ‘Fields of Unforgiveness.’  With its mix of heavy guitars and equally heavy lyrics, it makes for quite the opener to the record.  Things eventually take a sharp turn with the equally hard rocking yet rather angry song ‘Damn The Flood’, which seems to see Wylde writing about all the people out there that would try to spit lies as easily as a snake spitting its venom.  By the album’s ultimate end though, the outcome is more positive, with Wylde singing about moving on with life wherever it may lead.  Whether all of these songs came from a personal place or simply as a concept idea, they combine with the album’s musical side to make what is one of the most powerful records that Wylde and his band mates have written to date.

Catacombs of the Black Vatican opens on a powerful note in the form of ‘Fields of Unforgiveness.’  This first impression from the band is what leads one to wonder if this album is indeed a concept album of sorts or if it came from personal experience.  Wylde sings in this piece, “So you think that it’s over/So you think that it’s done/The fields of unforgiveness never die/They’ve just begun/You thought you’d elude life’s sorrow/emptiness and grief/The oceans of life’s contempt/Drown the liars and the thieves.”  That one line concerning liars and thieves is the center point of this song.  It almost comes across as addressing someone that has done something really bad.  The person in question thinks that he (?) has gotten away with said deed.  But as the chorus notes, it’s never over.  “The fields of unforgiveness never die.”  Such a searing indictment set against an equally hard rocking musical backing makes this song one heck of a first impression from the members of Black Label Society on its latest record.

As hard hitting as ‘Fields of Unforgiveness’ proves to be with its mix of Wylde’s trademark shredding and equally searing lyrics, it isn’t the album’s only heavy piece. Just as heavy and hard hitting is ‘Damn The Flood.’ With its equally driving sludge rock sound and its indictment of the proverbial snakes out there, this song stands out as one of the album’s most powerful moments. Wylde sings against the song’s solid, southern sludge sound, “This flood of snakes/The breeding lies/Existence of unjust/Spewing falsehoods as they crawl/Assassins of one’s trust…Poisoned blood manipulates/The bending of one’s will/Assassins of your sacred words/For trust it shall be killed.” These verses could be applied to so many situations. It could be applied to this nation’s political leaders. It could apply to an everyday basis in terms of those that call themselves friends, only to kill others’ trust once those backs are turned. As pessimistic as the song sounds, it’s actually positive as listeners will note in the song’s chorus. Wylde sings in the song’s chorus of dealing with those people and their evil ways. Yet again, it proves in the end to be one of the album’s best moments with that combination of musical and lyrical heaviness. It shows once more Wylde’s long ago argument that a song can be heavy without being heavy.

Through all of the lyrical and musical heaviness that makes up Catacombs of the Black Vatican, those that have the album’s deluxe edition will note that these is a message that through all of the negativity in the world, one can persevere through it all. He sings in ‘The Nomad’ of facing one’s past but moving on at the same time. As audiences will hear, he sings, “I’ve left the past behind/So much more to see/Like a feather to the wind/Wherever it may lead/Wherever it may lead/Where I’ll never know/For I can’t be tied down/I can hear it call.” He is singing about accepting the past and knowing it’s there, but not letting it weigh down an individual on one’s journey in life. Wylde and company exhibit such talent musically in this song. It isn’t the driving, hard rocker that the previously noted songs prove to be. It is more controlled. That more controlled nature makes this song a fitting end to an album that boasts just as much heaviness in its finale as in its beginning. That solid heaviness from start to finish both musically and lyrically prove why Catacombs of the Black Vatican is one of this year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums of 2014.

Catacombs of the Black Vatican is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via iTunes here. It can also be purchased at any BLS live show including tonight’s show at the Vogue Theatre in Indianapolis, IN. The band’s current tour schedule and all of the latest news from the band are available online at http://www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety and http://www.blacklabelsociety.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Battlecross Announces Tour With Machine Head, Children Of Bodom, Epica

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The members of Battlecross announced Monday that the band will embark on a North American tour this fall in support of its latest album War of Will.

Battlecross will join Machine Head, Epica, and Children of Bodom beginning Saturday, October 4th in Denver, Colorado. Tickets for the band’s joint tour will go on sale this Friday morning at 10am ET. Battlecross guitarist Tony Asta discussed in a recent interview, his thoughts on touring alongside Children of Bodom and Machine Head once again and with Epica for the first time ever. “What an honor to be on this tour!,” he said. “We’re really stoked to reunite with Machine Head and Children of Bodom, both legendary bands and friends from last summer’s Mayhem Fest, and to see what Epica is all about. This is a tour with something for every metal head and we can’t wait to be bring it brutal throughout the USA & Canada, banging heads and melting faces from coast-to-coast.See you in the pit!”

Before Battlecross makes its way across America this fall, the band will join Black Label Society in Mexico City before performing a trip of dates with Killswitch Engage and Memphis May Fire in Brazil. Hiran Deraniyalaga, who also plays guitar for Battlecross, commented on the upcoming performances. “What a year this has been for us so far,” he said. “We’ve been to Europe twice and now we’re going to Mexico and South America! We’re so honored to be invited to play with Black Label Society in Mexico City. We have so many loyal rabid fans there and we finally get to play for them! After that we fly to Brazil for three dates with our good friends Killswitch Engage, who we can’t thank enough for always inviting us out for awesome opportunities like this one. Get ready to rage my friends! This will be one for the books!”

The schedule for Battlecross’ upcoming tour with Machine Head, Children of Bodom, and Epica is listed below.

Battlecross
Tour w/ Machine Head, Children of Bodom, Epica
10/04 Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall
10/06 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues Dallas
10/07 Houston, TX @ House of Blues Houston
10/09 Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
10/10 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
10/12 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
10/14 Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
10/15 Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
10/16 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
10/17 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium – Rock and Shock festival
10/18 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
10/20 Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
10/21 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave II
10/22 Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theatre
10/23 Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret
10/24 Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brians Event Centre
10/25 Calgary, AB @ The Republik
10/26 Edmonton, AB @ Shaw Conference Centre
10/28 Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theater
10/29 Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
10/30 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
10/31 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
11/01 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
11/02 San Diego, CA @ House of Blues

Battlecross
Summer Headline Tour w/ IKILLYA
07/30 Reading, PA @ Reverb
07/31 Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room
08/01 Hartford, CT @ Webster Underground
08/02 Albany, NY @ Bogies
08/03 Ottawa, ON*** @ Mavericks
08/04 Quebec City***, QC @ L’Agitee
08/05 London, ON*** @ Rum Runners
08/06 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
08/07 Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
End tour
08/08 Louisville, KY** @ Expo 5
08/09 Birch Run, MI @ DIRT Fest
08/10 Libertyville, IL** @ Austin’s
** w/ Killswitch Engage
***w/ Crimson Shadows & IKILLYA
Battlecross
South American tour dates
w/ Black Label Society
08/20 Mexico City*** @ Jose Cuervo Salon

w/ Killswitch Engage & Memphis May Fire
08/22 Curitiba, Brazil @ Music Hall
08/23 Sao Paulo, Brazil @ Carioca Club
08/24 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil @ Circo Voador

All of the latest news and tour updates from Battlecross is available online at http://battlecrossmetal.com, http://www.facebook.com/battlecrossmetal, and http://twitter.com/battlecross. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anti-Mortem Makes A Solid First Impression On Its Debut LP

Courtesy:  Nuclear Blast America

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast America

Anti-Mortem’s debut record New Southern is one of the best new hard rock records of 2014. The band’s debut record, which is available now in stores and online, has taken the best elements of Black Label Society, Hellyeah, and Pantera—just to name a few—and has blended them together to make a record that clearly shows why the band signed with what is one of hard rock’s “big three” labels in Nuclear Blast Records. For those that might be curious, the other pair of labels that comprise that “big three” are Metal Blade Records and Century Media Records. The band grabs listeners right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Words of Wisdom’ and doesn’t let go until the final strains of the album’s closer. Along the way, the band more than makes its argument as to why it deserves to be on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. Case in point the band’s latest single ‘Truck Stop Special’ and the southern rock sludge of ‘Black Heartbeat.’ These songs are just a few examples of why Anti-Mortem’s New Southern has earned a spot at least on this critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock records. Audiences will agree that any of the songs on this record show why the band deserves such an honor from any critic.

Anti-Mortem proves to audiences why its debut record is one of the year’s best new hard rock records right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Words of Wisdom.’ The comparisons to Black Label Society and Hellyeah are instantaneous thanks to the heavy guitar riffs of Nevada Romo and Zain Smith, and front man Larado Romo’s searing vocals. In an era when it seems that crunching down-tuned guitars and indecipherable cookie monster growls seem to be leading the way in the rock world, this combination of musicianship is a breath of fresh air even in the rock community. Of course the equally pounding drumming of Levi Dickerson and bassist Corey Henderson’s solid low end aren’t to be forgotten, either. They add their own depth to the song’s musical side as Larado Romo sings (Yes, he actually sings to a certain extent unlike so many rock vocalists today), “I was told my whole life/Don’t do this/Don’t do that/Force your opinion on me/Like it was fact/You tried to hypnotize/And teach me to act/the truth is you lied/And there’s no going back.” He and his band mates go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “You wonder/What’s under/What’s underneath my skin/You wonder what is under/Underneath my/I see no reason why/We should lay down and die/No words of wisdom.” There is no cryptic hidden message here. This song is a full-on, horns-high hard rock anthem. And it will have any true fan of the genre singing along with pride. That pride doesn’t lessen at all even after this song ends. That’s evident in another of the album’s highest points, ‘Truck Stop Special.’

‘Truck Stop Special’ is southern sludge rock at its finest. What can be said of this song but it is destined to be just as much a favorite for audiences both on the album and in a live setting. It’s a powerful song both musically and lyrically. Lyrically, Romo comes across as singing about making the most of life. This argument could be made in noting the song’s chorus. Romo sings in the chorus, “You can’t live your life, no/With your head in the sand/You can’t waste your time, son/On a fool’s errand.” That argument is made even stronger as he sings in the song’s second verse, “No money to drown in/No hope to hang/Trouble’s the way I’m living child/When there ain’t no fame/Our education boy/I’ll show you how to be yeah/To never want nothing son/To take all you need.” In the song’s final verse, Romo goes on to note how the last to a given point suffer the possibility of losing everything. He is speaking metaphorically here saying that those that waste their time in life are in danger of negative consequences. Overall, he is saying people shouldn’t waste their lives and let life pass them by. That carpe diem message of sorts next to the song’s solid driving musical makes this song one more of so many of New Southern’s many high points.

The members of Anti-Mortem show time and again throughout the course of New Southern’s twelve tracks and forty-six total minutes just why the band’s debut record is so deserving of being added to any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. ‘Truck Stop Special’ and ‘Words of Wisdom’ are both prime examples of why it deserves to be on that list. There is one more song that could be noted among the many standout tracks on this album proving that argument. The song in question, ‘Black Heartbeat’ comes almost halfway through the album. The song focuses on broken relationship, lyrically. But it doesn’t come across in the typical ‘oh woe is me’ style of so many songs. It really captures the mixed emotions of anger and pain felt by someone that has been on the receiving end of a broken relationship. And Romo makes no bones about the song’s subject matter as he sings, “It’s safe to say/It’s over now/At least until you call/Sometimes I wonder why I care/And loved you at all/Go on and pretend/It’s not your fault/Your cold black heartbeat/Has come to a halt/So use me/Abuse me/To get what you need/Confuse me/Lie to me/Your damage has been done/You can’t take advantage of my love anymore/No trust/Don’t wanna see/Then just walk out the door.” Some out there might not like the comparison, but one could almost compare this piece to Theory of a Deadman’s song ‘Get What You Deserve.’ The two songs are very similar both in terms of their themes and musical sides. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. ‘Get What You Deserve’ is rather scathing in its own way just as this song proves to be. And it comes from a similar vantage point. It’s one of those pieces that when one is going through a separation of any kind will most definitely empower listeners and help them to get through such times. Ergo, ‘Black Heartbeat’ will have done its job. And in turn it will have proven once more just why New Southern more than deserves to be considered one of this year’s best new hard rock records.

All three of the songs noted in this review are prime examples of why New Southern deserves a spot on every critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. They are also prime examples of why this album deserves a spot on the CD rack of every purist hard rock and metal fan. They aren’t the only examples of the album’s solidity. Every song on this album could be used for this argument. That’s truly saying something. The album is available now in stores and online. It can also be purchased at any of the upcoming live performances on the band’s current concert schedule. The band will kick off a summer tour at Strummer’s in Fresno, California on Tuesday, July 8th. Audiences can check out the band’s current tour itinerary online now and even buy New Southern at the band’s official website, http://anti-mortem.com. The band’s current tour schedule and updates are also available via Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/AntiMortemUSA and http://twitter.com/antimortemusa. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Satriani Releases New Career-Spanning Box Set

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Joe Satriani released today a brand new box set.

Joe Satriani: The Complete Studio Recordings is a 15-disc box set containing each of Satriani’s records to date. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HZ2M5KE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00HZ2M5KE&linkCode=as2&tag=legacy_recordings-20. It is also available as a collectible limited edition USB drive that can be purchased via Satriani’s official website, http://www.satriani.com. The USB drive is available in a 24-bit/96kHz “High Resolution Audio.” The HRA USB drive audio is as close as fans will ever come to the early ½” analog masters and later high sample rate digital masters. That’s because the HRA has higher bandwidth, wider dynamic range, greater detail, and more depth than a conventional CD.

Satriani will be on The Arsenio Hall Show tonight as part of his promotional tour. He will sit in with Hall’s house band. And tomorrow, April 23rd, he will be the featured guest on Rockline with host Bob Coburn, promoting both his new box set and his new book, Strange Beautiful Music. Audiences can find when and on which station they can catch Satch’s interview at http://www.rocklineradio.com/affiliates.php. Fans can also check out his appearance on the season finale of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show. Fans can check out that episode online now at http://www.vh1.com/video/that-metal-show/full-episodes/joe-satriani/1725085/playlist.jhtml.

Along with his on-air presence, Joe is featured in the “Life” section of today’s edition of USA Today. Fans can check out the article online at http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/04/21/joe-satriani-box-set-autobiography/7476617/. He is also featured on the cover of Guitar World magazine alongside fellow guitar god and Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde. Fans can check that out at http://www.guitarworld.com/may-2014-guitar-world-zakk-wylde-joe-satriani-how-build-pedal-board-john-frusciante-death-angel-tabs-lessons-and-more.

The complete album listing for Satch’s new box set is noted below:

Joe Satriani: The Complete Studio Recordings includes:

1986  Not of This Earth

1987  Surfing with the Alien

1989  Flying in a Blue Dream

1992  The Extremist

1993  Time Machine

1995  Joe Satriani

1998  Crystal Planet

2000  Engines of Creation

2002  Strange Beautiful Music

2004  Is There Love in Space?

2006  Super Colossal

2008  Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock

2010  Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards

2013  Unstoppable Momentum

2014 Additional Creations and Bonus Tracks

More information on Satriani’s new box set, book, tour news and more is available online at http://www.satriani.com and http://www.facebook.com/joesatriani. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.