2020’s New Hard Rock, Metal Albums Prove The Grammys Got It Wrong Again

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Whatever committee or person makes the decision on who gets nominations and awards at the annual Grammy Awards ceremony needs a swift kick in the pants.  That is because that person or those people has/have never given much real respect to the hard rock and metal community.  This year’s list of nominees is the latest supporting proof for that argument.  Despite what certain parties might have audiences believe, 2020 produced a lot of albums that are far more worthy of awards.  Among those oh-so-notable new albums that have been released this far are new offerings from Lamb of God, Sons of Apollo, U.D.O., Sevendust, and even Firewind.  All of the noted albums are featured in this year’s Phil’s Picks Top 10 New Hard Rock & Metal Albums.  Between thrash metal, groove metal, pure hard rock and even electronic rock, this list proves how much great material was released this year that is far more deserving of awards than the acts that were nominated (maybe save for Body Count’s song).

As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the Top 10 new albums in the noted category and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Hard Rock & Metal Albums.


  1. Sons of Apollo – MMXX
  2. U.D.O. – We Are One
  3. Sevendust – Blood & Stone
  4. Lamb of God – Lamb of God
  5. Mushroomhead – A Wonderful Life
  6. Testament – Titans of Creation
  7. Static X – Project: Re-Generation
  8. Firewind – Firewind
  9. Julien K – Harmonic Disruptor
  10. Master Boot Record – Floppy Disc Overdrive
  11. Clint Lowery – God Bless The Renegades
  12. Annihilator – Ballistic, Sadistic
  13. David Reece – Cacophony of Souls
  14. Biff Byford – School of Hard Knocks
  15. Warbringer – Weapons of Tomorrow

Next up from Phil’s Picks is one last musical category, the year’s top new overall albums.  Stay tuned for that, and then it’ll be on to the DVD and BD categories. 

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

Sevendust Drummer’s New EP Shows More Control Than Chaos

Courtesy: Rise Records

Sevendust’s members have been busy this  year maintaining the band’s long-held title of the hardest working band in rock.  Guitarist Clint Lowery released two new solo recordings this year – an album, God Bless The Renegades and an EP, Grief & Distance –and the band as a whole has released a new album, Blood & Stone.  Drummer Morgan Rose added to the band’s new releases Friday with his latest studio recording, his new EP Controlled Chaos.  The six-song record is another positive presentation from Rose, who in fact enlisted his Sevendust band mate Lowery to handle guitars for the EP (again cementing the noted reputation even more for the band).  That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly. Its lyrical content plays as much into its presentation as its musical content.  This aspect will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this new offering from two-fifths of Sevendust.  All things considered, the EP proves itself an offering that every Sevendust fan will enjoy.

Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose’s new EP Controlled Chaos is a work that will appeal to every Sevendust fan.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical content.  While the title of Rose’s new record is Controlled Chaos, there is no sense of chaos by any means throughout the record’s musical arrangements.  Though there is a lot of control.  The information provided about Rose’s new EP states that the record took six days to track.  That in itself could be considered chaotic, being such a short time frame.  Even being such short time frame, the result really was so controlled, precise and powerful in its musical presentation.  So to that end, the EP’s title does fit at least to a point.  Audiences will easily recognize the influence of Rose’s primary gig throughout the record in the powerful melodic hard rock style approach to most of the songs.  The most surprising of the record’s arrangements comes in its closer, ‘Exhale.’  This arrangement does take its own influence from Rose’s time with Sevendust, but is just so powerful in its simplicity.  It is just Rose on vocals along with a piano.  It is a powerful exhibition of Rose’s vocal talent as it shows that ability to really move listeners with his voice alone.  The addition of the other elements, which will be discussed at more length in the examination of the EP’s production, adds even more impact to the minimalist composition.  Between that, the Sevendust influence that is evident in the record’s opener and the rest of the album, and the growth that Rose and company show alongside that influence, the record’s musical content in whole forms a solid foundation for Controlled Chaos.  The lyrical content that accompanies that musical content builds strongly on the record’s presentation.

The lyrical content featured in the record’s lead single is proof of the importance of the EP’s lyrical content.  The song’s lyrical content focuses n “a narcissist,” according to comments from Rose in information provided about the EP.  That is pointed out right from the song’s outset, in which rose sings, “Seething under my skin/Protecting all that I am/Anticipating for the last time/You can be/broken/All that you want/’Cause I won’t give anymore.”  Right from this listeners can infer that the speaker is someone who is very angry in dealing with thoughts and emotions brought about by that person.  The song’s chorus adds to the statement, as Rose sings, “Wish you feel alive inside/But nothing can change your mind/Erase the shadow left/behind/Stop and realize/I’m not the answer.”  When he says, “Stop and realize/I’m not the answer,” that leaves zero doubt as to the noted statement.  This is a matter that has led the main subject to reach a near breaking point.  When all of this is considered with the song’s deeply emotional musical content, the whole of the song gains such impact.  It is just one example of what makes the album’s lyrical content important.  The lyrical content featured in ‘Exhale’ does its own share to prove that importance.

‘Exhale’ is so powerful, lyrically, because it comes across as someone who is letting out so much inner pain.  Rose pointed out in an interview that the song’s lyrical content is biographical about himself.  He noted, I wanted to semi-document how I felt being in a bad place and getting to a good place.”  The larger story that he told had to do with himself going through a lot of personal adversity and coming out better in the end.  This can be inferred even without a lyrics sheet to reference.  What is so interesting here is the reserved nature in the wording of the lyrics.  He sings in part in the song’s lead verse, “Holy angel/Forgive what I’ve become/Became the man who is here/Now the urge controlling my every thought/It’s telling me, “disappear”/All this…has me crippled to my knees…/The worst is done/Now that I believe/I’ll fade into the water/Where I can finally breathe/Where I can finally breathe.”  This is all important to address because Rose noted in his interview, that ““I’ve had semi-documented issues with my own problems. I think a lot of us wonder, ‘How many people will show up at my funeral?’ I was in a pretty good place before I got sick and ended up in the hospital last year, and I was in a great place after getting better. I was able to look and see what the reaction would be if something catastrophic happened to me. I was blown away. I had gotten myself together and made it through a tough time. I was able to see how much everyone around me really cared. It was humbling.”  His statement in this verse about things being better, and being able to breathe” is that recovery and seeing how many people care.  It all comes across as perhaps Rose talking about dealing with depression.  He adds, “the worst is done…” showing even more the story.  This adds even more depth to the song’s lyrical content, and in turn, the impact of the song in whole when the song’s musical content is considered along with this content.  It is just one more way in which the EP’s lyrical content is proven so important.  The lyrical content featured in ‘Clarity’ is one more example of the importance of the EP’s lyrical content.

Rose said of the lyrical content featured in ‘Clarity,’ “It’s the feeling of washing away the day, so you can start fresh tomorrow.  I’m getting rid of the turmoil, stopping my mind, and finding a way to restart.”  Everyone has been at that point in life at least once if not more, where they have had to take a step back and put everything into perspective, which is what Rose seems to be talking about here.  He delivers the message here as he sings in part in the song’s chorus, asking “what’s the meaning of it all…” and that we need to “Turn the page and look inside/To find the reason you’re inside your own world.”  That couple of line is self explanatory, considering Rose’s statement as to the meaning in the song’s lyrics.  Again, it serves to help make the song that much more accessible for audiences.  As a result, it becomes another clear example of what makes the EP’s lyrical content so important to the record’s bigger picture.  When the lyrical and musical aspects of the EP are paired, they make for a presentation that ensures audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  They are just one portion of what makes the record appealing.  Its production rounds out its most important elements.

The production that went into the creation of Controlled Chaos is key in its own way to this record’s presentation.  The production of ‘Exhale,’ as noted earlier, is one clear example of that aspect’s importance.  The mostly minimalist approach to the song, what with Rose singing against a piano is so moving.  The airy, ethereal echo effect that was used in each element makes that simplicity work so well.  The result is that the song sounds so rich and full, even in its simplicity.  The layering of Rose’s vocals and the addition of the extra sound effects enriches the song even more.  It adds to the contemplative nature of the song, in turn, adding even more to the song’s impact.  The balance of the instrumentation and vocals in ‘Faster Man’ ensures here, that every element shines in its own right, ensuring that song’s impact, too.  Much the same can be said of each line within the whole of ‘Come Alive.’  Rose’s screams and his “spoken” lines are so powerful in their own way here while Lowery’s guitar and Jason Christopher’s (Prong, Corey Taylor) bass line flesh out the song so fully.  Taking all of this into account along with the production that went into each of the EP’s other songs, the end result is a presentation that works just as well for its overall sound as for its content.  All things considered, the record proves itself a work that, again, will appeal to every Sevendust fan.

Morgan Rose’s debut EP Controlled Chaos is an impressive offering from the longtime Sevendust drummer.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements featured in this record clearly exhibit influences from Rose’s long-running career with his primary band as well as his own influences.  The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical content adds its own appeal to the presentation.  That is due to the fact that it is just as accessible as the record’s musical arrangements.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  That is because it is responsible for the record’s content sounding so good.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, the EP proves to be a record that will appeal to every Sevendust fan.  Controlled Chaos is available now.  More information on the EP is available along with all of Morgan Rose’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.morganfknrose.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MorganRose7d

Twitter: http://twitter.com/morgan7d

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

Lowery Falls Short In His Follow-Up To His Debut LP

Courtesy: Rise Records

Sevendust has, throughout the course of its now 26 years in existence, been considered to be one of the hardest working bands in the rock community.  That is because of the band’s seemingly nonstop touring and its studio product.  Founding member and guitarist Clint Lowery added to that reputation Friday when he released his new EP Grief & Distance.  The five-song record was released as a surprise to everyone, as there was no buildup ahead of its release.  According to information provided by publicists, the record is a collection of songs that Lowery recently wrote following the recent death of his mother and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The record, whose release comes less than five months after the release of his debut solo album God Bless The Renegades, is an interesting new offering.  That is due in part to the basis of the songs, especially as it relates to the arrangements.  This will be discussed shortly.  The record’s makeup is another important factor to discuss.  It will be addressed a little later.  It is both a positive and a negative for the record’s presentation.  All things considered, the EP is an interesting new offering, but in the bigger picture of Lowery’s body of work, comes up short, but not necessarily in the worst way.

Grief & Distance is an intriguing new offering from Sevendust guitarist Clint Lowery.  The five-song EP, which was one of those surprise releases that artists put out from time to time, is a powerful new offering from Lowery.  The catch is that because it is such an emotionally impacting record, it is not a presentation that audiences will find themselves taking in on a regular basis.  As noted already, press releases distributed Friday about the EP’s release, cited Lowery as saying the three original songs that make up the bulk of the EP’s body were crafted in response to the passing of his mother and to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.  To its defense, it isn’t the first record of its kind to ever be released.  Plenty of other albums and EPs (and even movies) have been released over the years that require audiences to be in a certain mindset in order to be appreciated.  However, just as with those other releases, taking such an approach ultimately reduces the frequency of play.  Keeping that in mind, these very reserved, melancholy musical works prove ultimately to be problematic for the EP, but it doesn’t necessarily keep the album from being heard.  It just limits the frequency with which audiences will take in the EP.

As much as the EP’s arrangements make it problematic, the record’s makeup makes up for that issue, at least slightly.  To the positive, it can be said that the record does have at least three original songs versus its two alternate takes of songs from his debut LP.  In other words, the original make up more than half of the record’s body.  Adding even more to that discussion is the fact that the songs are, as noted, original works.  They are not just songs that did not make the final cut for God Bless The Renegades.  Had these songs just been previously recorded but unreleased songs, that would have been another negative, but thankfully that was not the case.  To that end, the record’s makeup actually does justify it as a viable EP.  It is the record’s main saving grace

While the record’s overall makeup is a positive in its bigger picture, there is still a concern with the makeup in another sense.  The concern is that all three of the originals and even the acoustic takes of the previously released songs are all very brooding, moody songs.  In a time in which people need some kind of hope (even if it is false hope), people need that comfort.  This brings everything full circle back to the earlier discussion on the mood of the songs.  Had Lowery chosen acoustic takes perhaps of some of his heavier material from God Bless The Renegades in place of the two songs featured here, it might have helped things.  The mood and tone of the two acoustic songs only continues the very melancholy mood that permeates the EP’s originals.  If he was trying to make up for that mood with these two extras, the attempt failed.  Keeping that in mind, it detracts from the record’s presentation that much more.  Keeping this in mind along with everything else noted here, the end result of Grief & Distance is that it makes itself a record from which listeners may find themselves putting some distance.

Clint Lowery’s surprise EP Grief & Distance is a work that will appeal to a very targeted, specific audience base.  That is due in part to the fact that Lowery crafted the album while he himself was in a very specific mindset.  That understanding help lead to an understanding about the fact that the songs are musically and lyrically very melancholy and brooding.  While the EP’s content will impact the size of its listener base, one good thing that can be said of this EP is that it does qualify as an EP considering its overall makeup.  Sadly though, that is its one positive.  The two alternate takes of songs featured in God Bless The Renegades detract from the record’s presentation even more in that they do little to offset the very melancholy feel and sound that runs throughout the record.  Between this matter and the EP’s overall mood and sound, it becomes a presentation that will find a difficult time resonating with audiences, save for those who are in the same mindset that Lowery was in crafting the record.  To that end, it is worth at least one listen, but sadly not much more than that.

More information on the album is available online now along with all of Lowery’s latest news at:










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

‘God Bless The Renegades’ Is A Solid Solo Debut For Clint Lowery

Courtesy: Rise Records

Sevendust co-founder and guitarist Clint Lowery has spent the past two decades plus making quite the name for himself as a member of the Grammy® nominated hard rock band.  After spending so much time with the Atlanta, GA-based hard rock band, Lowery has struck out on his own for the first time this year with his debut album God Bless The Renegades.  Released Jan. 31 through Rise Records, the LP is a strong new effort from Lowery.  That is thanks to familiar and new musical arrangements that exhibit Lowery’s growth as an artist.  It is also thanks to lyrical content which will engage and entertain listeners just as much as the record’s musical content.  The album’s opener and title track is just one example of how the record’s collective musical and lyrical content plays into its appeal.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘Kings,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another way in which the album proves itself a strong solo debut from Lowery.  The album’s finale, ‘Do We Fear God’ is one more way in which the record proves itself so important to the album’s presentation.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, the whole of the record proves to be another early candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Clint Lowery’s solo debut record God Bless The Renegades is a positive offering from the longtime Sevendust guitarist and co-founder.  That is thanks to the record’s musical and lyrical content.  The album’s opener and title track is just one of the entries that support that statement.  The song’s musical arrangement instantly lends itself to comparisons to works that Lowery has composed as a member of Sevendust.  More specifically speaking, the heavy, crunching sound and the tempo lends itself to comparisons to works from the band’s sophomore album Home (1999).  It is instantly infectious and will certainly be a fan favorite.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too.  Its companion lyrical content adds to its impact.

Lowery sings in the song’s lead verse, “What’s the meaning behind the broken heart/Watch your feelings/Try not to fall apart/I think we’re dying to play the victim card/You taste like chemicals/You are the one they want/What makes you feel good at the moment/What breaks you down/What makes you whole/Oh you know/You said it’s all the rage/Love dies and we relate/I hope you’re entertained/God bless the renegades/Let’s watch the superstars run from the cannibals/They think they’re gonna be saved/God bless the renegades.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “What’s the reason for the guilty one’s love/Go wash that blood off your hands/Oh, you won’t believe this/No matter what you are/We live like animals/And the cowards die alone/We die alone.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “So tell me how do we change/We give ourselves away/No words can take the place/Beautiful lies we chase/Entirely erased.”  Lowery talked about the song’s lyrical content in a recent interview from the debut of the song’s lyric video.  He explained of the song, “I wanted to give thanks and praise to the people who step away from the ‘sheep’ mentality,” he said.  “The forward-thinkers and dreamers who create real change and evolution – the ones who don’t fear being different.”  Simply put, this song presents the tried and true topic of promoting individuality, which is a staple in rock music.  The fashion in which Lowery has approached the topic here lyrically is unique.  When it is coupled with the song’s familiar musical styling, the whole of the elements makes the song a strong start for Lowery’s new LP and an equally strong example of what make the album a positive solo debut from an already very accomplished musician.

‘God Bless The Renegades’ is just one of the songs that serves to show what makes Lowery’s solo debut such an engaging and enjoyable offering.  ‘Kings,’ which also comes early in the album’s 41-minute run, is another key example of what makes this record stand out.  The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Kings’ shows a slight hint of his work with Sevendust, but in larger part, there is more of a distinct, straight forward, mainstream rock sound.  That is evidenced in the song’s vocal harmonies and the general instrumentation.  It can be compared to works from so many bands out there, such as Finger Eleven, Default and Three Days Grace.  What is interesting in considering the song’s musical arrangement is that while the song’s mid-tempo arrangement is infectious in its own right, it doesn’t entirely match the song’s proudly defiant lyrical content, which focuses on overcoming diversity.  Typically such songs present much more fiery arrangements, but even despite that, this arrangement still works in its own right.

The message of the proud defiance is delivered in the song’s lead verse, during which Lowery sings, “I’m coming out breathing fire/You gotta love the thieves and liars/They’re hanging on every word/We’re tearing down the walls inside/We’re working up with dirt-filled eyes/And everyone knows it/Goes on and on and on again/Break it/Break it to see you can take it/Take it from me, you can make it/’Cause I’ll be right by your side/I’ve been through hell just for this/I’ve had my say/I found my way/Even though I came down for it/We’re dying at the bottom/But we lived like kings.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I’m fighting off the angry hearts/They tear apart the things we love/I know you want blood/You can’t hide it/The worst part/We needed/The darkness, we feed it/The scars that you see/You know that it’s better to bleed.”  Again, here is that message of overcoming diversity and rising above, making the best of life regardless of the negatives.  This is a positive message that will resonate with audiences just as much as the song’s musical arrangement.  Both items together make the song in whole its own powerful presentation that once again, shows what makes God Bless The Renegades stand out.  It is just one more example of what God Bless The Renegades a positive debut from Lowery.  The album’s finale, ‘Do We Fear God’ is yet another example of the album’s strength.

‘Do We Fear God’ features an almost emo style arrangement at its core.  That is something that could not be farther from what Lowery has crafted as a member of Sevendust throughout his career.  It is a full on, melodic work that is the most stark departure possible from his signature style.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, either.  It shows his ability to handle more than just hard rock, and to do so successfully.  It meets with the song’s lyrical content quite well in its own way, too.

Lowery sings in the song’s lead verse, “The seconds taste like falling rain/It’s almost chemical/The dreams we chase/A nightmare race/We deem so critical/And I believe we’re all just scared/I see so much of me in them/The more we say, the less we grow/We use our words to close the doors/We’re in and out/We live and die/We breach the walls to save our souls/Do we fear God”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Would you ask my name/If my weathered face/Was less than beautiful/In this shallow place/We become the slaves/On a selfish pedestal/And I believe we’re all just scared/It takes so much from you to give/The less we say the more we hold.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “We whisper something cruel/About everything and everyone/Am I the only one/I’m the only one/I’m not the only one.”  This is a relatively straight forward message.  Lowery is making a social commentary of sorts here, but in a more eloquent fashion than many other songs of its ilk.  It is addressing how selfish, self-centered and shallow we as a people have become.  When he notes that “the dreams we chase/A nightmare race/We deem so critical,” he is noting that we are chasing something inconsequential, adding “the more we say, the less we grow.”  That added note of asking if someone would talk to another person based solely on looks, that makes us the “slaves on a selfish pedestal.”  Again, Lowery has, here, presented another familiar lyrical topic that many groups and acts have crafted, yet he has done so in a unique fashion that stands out among its counterparts. When it is considered alongside its moving, companion musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes one of the album’s most powerful works if not its most powerful in its subtlety.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album shows Lowery has a bright future ahead of him whether it be with Sevendust, on his own or both.

Clint Lowery’s debut solo LP God Bless The Renegades is a positive new offering from the longtime Sevendust guitarist and co-founder.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements, which throw back to his work with Sevendust and show his own personal growth as a musician.  The album’s lyrical content is certain to keep audiences just as engaged as its companion musical content.  That is proven in part through all three of the songs featured here.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the album in whole becomes a solid solo debut for Lowery and a sign that his future as a solo artist is just as positive as it is with his band mates in Sevendust.  God Bless The Renegades is available now.  More information on the album is available online now along with all of Lowery’s latest news at:




Website: http://www.clintlowery.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/clintlowery.net

Twitter: http://twitter.com/clintlowerynet




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

Walking With Giants’ Debut LP Is Set To Become Well-Known In The Rock World

Courtesy: PFA Media/Walking With Giants, LLC

Courtesy: PFA Media/Walking With Giants, LLC

“It’s about thinking in ways you haven’t thought prior. “Instead of succumbing to the constant influence of negativity, you look inside yourself, find a solution you’ve never tried before, and end up in a new place you’ve never been. It’s about finding a different perspective.” Those are the words of Walking with Giants founder and front man Gary Noon in discussing the title of the debut album from his new project Walking With Giants and the content contained within the record’s eleven tracks. The album, Worlds Unknown, will be released in stores and online tomorrow, January 15th via Walking With Giants, LLC. The record’s musical content might not necessarily take listeners to a place that they’ve never been. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It boasts a familiar 90s rock influence throughout, courtesy of some very well-known names—Morgan Rose and Clint Lowery of Sevendust, and Brian Marshall of Creed/Alter Bridge. While the album’s musical content might not necessarily leave listeners in a different place, the album’s lyrical content just might. As Noon explains about the album’s lyrical content that “I want people to walk away from the record feeling something different. “Maybe they can relate and want to apply it to their lives and situations and find some inspiration.” Whether or not listeners feeling something different after listening to this record, they will come out of it knowing that they have heard a record that easily holds its own against the current crop of offerings in the rock world today.

Walking With Giants’ debut LP Worlds Unknown is not exactly unknown to audiences in terms of its musical or lyrical content. However in listening through the whole of its eleven song, thirty-seven-minute run time listeners will agree that despite this it still proves to be a record that easily holds its own against the current crop of offerings in the rock world today. Any of the songs featured in this record could be cited to support that argument. One of the most notable of the songs that could be cited is the Clint Lowery-crafted opus ‘Heavy Hand.’ The song’s melodic rock sound fits easily alongside that of Sevendust, Theory of a Deadman, and other current major-name acts of that realm. Noon and Lowery’s dual guitar attack sets against Rose’s work behind the kit and Marshall’s solid bass line to make a solid foundation for the song. The song’s lyrical content builds on that foundation with a concept that Noon explains, “Lyrically, it’s a guy who’s having an argument with himself like, ‘What the hell kind of a person am I? One day, I feel strong. The next day, I feel totally inadequate.’ It’s the struggle of figuring out who you are.” He sings here, “Another day here/Lost without a voice/Invisible, expendable/We drop off one by one/What am I/The useless/What are you/The judge/Someday I’ll prove my worth/But you’re holding on to find a dream/The time has come for the world to see/The world to see/To find that place where I can be/Trust it’s not the end of me.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Chasin’ the praises that fill the void/Too logical/Regrettable/You’ve set out to destroy/What if this is useless/Then who am I at all/I am here for what it’s worth/Trying hard to find that dream.” The inner battle that the song’s main figure is fighting is clear in these lines. And when that inner emotional battle is set against the power of the song’s musical content, the whole of the creation is a song that becomes one of the album’s brightest. It is just one of the featured songs that makes this record stand out. ‘Guilty One’ also serves as a good example of what makes this album stand out.

‘Heavy Hand’ is a key example of what makes Worlds Unknown standout from its counterparts so far this year. It is a solid, heavy piece that will also have listeners thinking in hearing its lyrical content. It is just one example of what makes this record stand out, however. ‘Guilty One’ is another song that can easily be cited as one of the album’s high points. Right off the bat, the song conjures thoughts of Staind and Breaking Benjamin with its semi-gloomcore sound. Noon even sounds like eerily like Staind front man Aaron Lewis in this piece. The similarity is so close that in all honesty if a person heard this song and Noon’s vocals without knowing it wasn’t Lewis singing, one would actually think that one was hearing Staind. That is especially the case considering the song’s lyrical content. Noon sings in this song, “The ice runs through my veins/The cold it separates us/The chaos you create takes over/The more I see the less I’m giving up.” There’s no denying the stylistic similarity between these line and those presented in songs from the likes of Staind, Breaking Benjamin, and others of that ilk. That is proven just as much as Noon sings in the song’s second verse, “The choices that we’ve made/Your consequences follow/The safety net you bring helps no one/But the more I see the less I’m giving up.” Noon seems to be setting up a scenario of someone that has created a rather negative situation for himself/herself and others because of the mindset of said individual. The mood of the song’s subject is illustrated quite well through Noon’s vocal talents and those of his fellow musicians. The end result of both elements together here is yet another song that shows clearly why WWG’s debut release stands (and walks) tall among 2016’s early crop of new rock releases.

Both ‘Heavy Hand’ and ‘Guilty One’ are key examples of what makes WWG’s debut album stand out early in 2016’s fied of new rock offerings. As important as they are to the overall presentation of Worlds Unknown they are not the album’s only high points. ‘Solid Ground’ is the album’s final full song (as in complete with music and lyrics). it is both another of the album’s overall high points and an equally good way to close out the album. That is because it exhibits more recent influences (I.E. Alter Bridge) in its musical content. That should come as no surprise considering that Creed/Alter Bridge bassist Brian Marshall worked on the album and fellow Creed/Alter Bridge band mate Scott “Flip” Phillips worked on WWG’s debut EP only a couple of years ago. There is also a hint of Sevendust here in the song’s melodic rock sound. Again it should come as no surprise to audiences. Considering the influences of both bands in this song’s creation the song’s musical content shows in the end to be plenty of reason for listeners to hear this song. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as its musical content. Lyrically speaking, this song completely exhibits everything that Noon noted of the album attempting to get people to thinking ways that they never had. That is clear in the song’s lead verse and chorus in which Noon sings, “Don’t you know/You’re about to step off the edge of the life you know/You know/Long way down/You can try not to fall but you’re losing ground/You know/It’s a life you chose/Now I put my feet on solid ground/I found a reason that I’m living for/That I’m living for. he comes across as saying here that what happens to a person is the result of his or her choices and he is confident in his choices. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Don’t they say/That you’ve gotta get out and start seizing the day/You know/Time to go/Deep inside/Take a look at the person/The one you can’t hide/You know/It’s the way that you grow/It’s the life that you chose.” From there he and his band mates reprise the song’s chorus before hitting the song’s bridge and returning to the chorus one more time. What Noon comes across as saying in the second verse is that people need to stop and really take a good look at themselves and realize, again, that people make their own paths in life as a result of their choices. The urgency in the song’s up-tempo musical content serves quite well to drive home the importance of that message. The two elements come together to make a song that is the perfect closing statement from Noon and company and one more standout example of what makes Worlds Unknown a record that every rock fan–not just fans of Alter Bridge, Creed, and Sevendust–should know.

Walking With Giants’ debut album Worlds Unknown is an album that rock fans across the board should know. That is because its eleven songs (technically nine full songs) present influences from some very familiar names within the rock *ahem* world. The lyrical content presented within each of the record’s featured songs strengthens the record even more. The combination of both elements throughout makes Worlds Unknown a record that is set to become very well-known throughout the rock world. It will be available Friday, January 15th. More information on Worlds Unknown is available online along with all of Walking With Giants’ latest news at:

Website: http://www.wwgiants.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wwgofficial

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.

Time Travelers & Bonfires Boasts Some Of Sevendust’s Best Music To Date

Courtesy:  7Bros Records/Asylum

Courtesy: 7Bros Records/Asylum/In De Goot Entertainment/Alternative Distribution Alliance

Veteran hard rock band Sevendust is one of the most highly revered bands in the world of rock and hard rock. That is because every one of its now ten full length studio albums has exhibited the band’s growth while maintaining a certain familiar heavy vibe throughout each record. The band’s latest album Time Travelers & Bonfires is no exception to that rule. Even being a largely acoustic release (there are some non-acoustic elements spaced throughout the record), the band has somehow managed to maintain that familiar heaviness that is a trademark for Sevendust’s albums. That is evident right from the album’s opener, ‘Come Down.’ It’s just as evident late in the album with the band’s re-worked acoustic take on ‘Denial.’ This re-worked classic is especially interesting as it presents a whole new emotional vibe in its acoustic state. It makes the song even heavier in an emotional manner of speaking. And then there is the album’s closer, ‘Black,’ which is also the band’s first major hit. This song is just as heavy in its acoustic form as it is in its original take. What’s more it’s just as heavy as the other acoustic re-works that populate this album. Together with the other noted songs (and those not noted for reasons of space), it completes an album that any diehard Sevendust fan will enjoy no less with each listen.

The members of Sevendust have managed to make each of the band’s now ten albums sound different from the previous release all while maintaining a certain heaviness throughout each record. The band’s latest release is no different in that aspect. Even on an album that is mostly acoustic, the band has managed to maintain that heaviness while creating something different, both on its new songs and those that have been re-worked. This is evident right from the album’s opener, ‘Come Down.’ This piece could have fit on any of the band’s previous albums comfortably. Lyrically, it’s such a bold statement. Front man Lajon Witherspoon sings defiantly in the song’s opening verse, “I guess for now/I’m gonna up and run away/My mind’s made up/I’m not the flaw/I’m not gonna fall in the grave/Just to prove you wrong.” The verse here is pretty cut and dry. It’s stating that some things just aren’t worth the fight and all the trouble. That’s made even more clear in the song’s chorus, as Witherspoon sings “You know you’re wrong/So come down/You must be out of your mind/We’re staying here forever, yeah/Until we’re all done throwing life away.” It’s such a bold statement. Yet, the balance of power and gentility in both Witherspoon’s vocals and the song’s musical side make it such a heavy song in its own right. Yet again it shows the band’s continued ability to make a song that has its own identity from previous works yet still has that familiar musical and lyrical heaviness; This, even though it’s not one of the band’s full-on pieces.

‘Come Down’ is one of six new tracks included on Time Travelers & Bonfires. Audiences will find that just as with ‘Come Down’, the other five new tracks included on this record also manage in their own way to build a different sound while maintaining Sevendust’s trademark heavy vibe. ‘Under It All’, the second of the new tracks proves that as it starts off with a short, but foreboding piano riff that conjures thoughts of Nine Inch Nails circa 1994. It’s just one more example of how the album’s new tracks each continue to exhibit the creativity and talent of Sevendust as a whole. Of course the band’s re-worked classics do their own part in making this album enjoyable, too. One prime example of that is the re-worked acoustic take on ‘Denial.’ The song, which was originally part of the band’s 1999 album Home, takes on a whole new life in its acoustic format here. The song’s original take is heavy and defiant. This take on the song is totally different. The mix of the acoustic guitars and Witherspoon’s vocals maintain the song’s anger. But there’s a certain increased emotional depth to the song with that mix. It gives the image of a man feeling anger and sadness all at the same time as he sings, “You never say what you mean/All I hear is scream/Never say that to me/Never say that to me/Wipe that s&*% off your face/Let’s not stop till we bleed/The more you spit out your mouth/The less I believe/Denial seems it had to come/Relied on me to say it all/Denial has left you all alone.” The song really does develop its own identity separate from its original take in this format. It could almost be considered a whole new song because of that wholly different emotion exhibited here. Once more, it shows the creativity and talent of the band. It is definitely one more of this album’s highest of points. It’s not the last of the album’s high points, either.

Sevendust exhibits so much creativity and talent throughout the course of the songs that make up Time Travelers & Bonfires. That has been shown already in the band’s re-worked acoustic take on ‘Denial’ and its new song ‘Come Down.’ Fittingly, Sevendust closes out its new album with the song that started it all in a re-worked acoustic take on ‘Black.’ There was no better final touch to this album than the band’s first hit. Whereas ‘Denial’ and other re-worked songs included on Time Travelers & Bonfires develop a whole new identity in their acoustic versions, this song is much the same in its acoustic take as in its original heavier take. That’s actually a good thing in the case of this song. One can’t help but wonder if it could in fact be better than the original take. It has just as much ferocity as the song’s original take. But there’s a certain different punch about it that puts it over the top in this setting. That punch makes it the perfect last impression for this record. It leaves the album feeling complete in every sense of the word. And in turn, listeners will feel after having heard this last dose of acoustic heaviness just why Time Travelers & Bonfires is one of Sevendust’s best albums to date.

Time Travelers & Bonfires is available now in stores and online. Audiences can even purchase the band’s new album at its live shows. Fans might even get to hear these acoustic recordings live as Sevendust makes its way across the country in support of its new album. The band is scheduled to perform live May 24th in El Paso, Texas. It wraps up May with dates in Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana before to Council Bluffs, Iowa to start off the month of June. The band’s most current tour schedule is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/sevendustofficial and http://www.sevendust.com. All of the latest news and more from the band is available on both websites. 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.

Sevendust Announces Details For New Album, Tour

Courtesy:  ABC Promotions

Courtesy: ABC Promotions

The long wait for Sevendust’s new album is almost over.  The band—Lajon Witherspoon (vocals), Vince Hornsby (bass), Clint Lowery (guitar/vocals), Morgan Rose (drums/vocals), and John Connolly (guitar/vocals)—has announced that it will release its fan-funded acoustic album Time Travelers & Bonfires will be released nationwide in April.  The upcoming all-acoustic compilation will feature a collection of new songs mixed in with re-worked versions of songs such as: ‘Black’, ‘Gone’, ‘Denial’, ‘Karma’, ‘Trust’ and ‘Crucified’ just to name a handful of songs.  Time Travelers& Bonfires isn’t the first time that Sevendust’s members have delved into the acoustic side of their songs.  The band released the highly acclaimed live acoustic recording Southside Double-wide in 2004.  One writer with All Music Guide wrote of that recording, “Fans should invest readily in Southside Double-Wide…Sevendust’s famously confrontational sound smolders, and damn it if their sensitive side isn’t just as fiery.” The complete listing for Time Travelers & Bonfires is available below.

Time Travelers & Bonfires Track Listing

1. Come Down

2. Under It All

3. The Wait

4. Upbeat Sugar

5. One Life

6. Bonfire

7. Gone

8. Denial

9. Trust

10. Crucified

11. Karma

12. Black

In conjunction with the album’s release, the band has also announced a supporting tour beginning April 1st in its hometown of Atlanta, GA.  The band’s “An Acoustic Evening with Sevendust” tour spans twenty-eight dates.  The current tour schedule sees the band making its way from the south to the West Coast (including the Pacific Northwest) before swinging back through the nation’s heartland and back around to the Northeast.  The most current tour schedule is listed below.


DATE               CITY                             VENUE

Tue 4/1             Athens, GA                   Georgia Theatre

Wed 4/2            Destin, FL                     Club LA

Fri 4/4               Houston, TX                   Scout Bar

Sat 4/5              Dallas, TX                      Trees

Sun 4/6             Austin, TX                     Emo’s

Tue 4/8             Tempe, AZ                    Marquee

Thu 4/10            El Cajon, CA                 Sycuan Casino

Fri 4/11             Los Angeles, CA            House Of Blues

Sat 4/12            Las Vegas, NV              Vinyl at Hard Rock

Sun 4/13           Reno, NV                      Knitting Factory

Wed 4/16          Sacramento, CA            Ace Of Spades

Fri 4/18             Seattle, WA                  El Corazon

Sat 4/19            Portland, OR                 Hawthorne Theatre

Sun 4/20           Boise, ID                       Knitting Factory

Mon 4/21           Salt Lake City, UT          The Complex

Tue 4/22            Denver, CO                    Gothic Theatre

Fri 4/25             Joliet, IL                        Mojoes

Sat 4/26            Madison, WI                  Orpheum

Mon 4/28           Detroit, MI                     Royal Oak Music Theatre

Tue 4/29            Cincinnati, OH               Bogart’s

Wed 4/30          Louisville, KY                 Mercury Ballroom

Fri 5/2               Baltimore, MD               Sound Stage

Sat 5/3              Washington, DC            The Howard Theatre

Sun 5/4             New York, NY                Highline Ballroom

Tue 5/6             Hartford, CT                   Webster Theatre

Thu 5/8             Patchogue, NY              Emporium

Fri 5/9               Portland, ME                 Asylum

Sat 5/10            Philadelphia, PA            Electric Factory

Before the band hits the road this Spring, it will be part of the annual ShipRocked cruise.  It will be in good company when the cruise leaves port.  Also scheduled to perform on the cruise are: Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, Three Days Grace, In This Moment, Tremonti, Black Stone Cherry, and a slew of others.  The cruise will depart from the Port of Miami this Sunday, January 26th and will return next Thursday, January 30th.  While at sea, the cruise will take audiences to Great Stirrup Cay, a private island in the Bahamas. A small number of staterooms for this year’s cruise is still available.  Vacationers and audiences get info on that limited space online at the official ShipRocked website, http://www.ShipRocked.com.

More information on Sevendust’s upcoming tour, new album, and more is available online at http://www.sevendust.com, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sevendust/25493613958, and http://twitter.com/sevendust.  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.