COC’s New LP Proves It Was Worth The Wait Despite Its Production Problems

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

Fans of the veteran hard rock band Corrosion of Conformity had plenty to smile about as this year opened.  That’s because the band released its latest full-length studio recording, No Cross No Crown.  The album, the band’s tenth full-length studio recording, has been received relatively well by fans, and justifiably so, as it takes listeners back to the days of Deliverance and Blind.  This is evidenced both in the album’s musical and lyrical content, which was crafted collectively by the band’s most beloved lineup of Woody Weatherman, Pepper Keenan, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin.  Keeping that in mind, the album in whole proves to be another welcome addition to the library of COC’s most devout fans.  ‘Cast The First Stone,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Little Man,’ with its 70s stoner throwback sound and equally intriguing lyrical theme also supports that statement.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Nothing Left To Say’ also supports the noted statement and will also be discussed a little later on.  Between these songs and the album’s other 11 songs, the album in whole proves to be a strong new offering from one of the greatest names in the southern/sludge rock community.  That is the case even with the production problems that plague the album at various points.  Yes, that will also be addressed.  To that end, No Cross No Crown is still a record that proves again COC’s maintained place in the sludge/stoner rock community.

Corrosion of Conformity’s latest full-length studio recording No Cross No Crown marks the first time in many years that the band’s most beloved lineup of Weatherman Woody, Pepper Keenan, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin recorded together under he COC moniker.  The group’s reunion has led, in this album, to be what is one of COC’s most notable albums to date, along the lines of its classic albums Deliverance and Blind.  ‘Cast The First Stone,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is just one of the songs included in the album that serves to support those statements.  This is proven in part through its musical arrangement, which is a full-on, adrenaline-fueled rocker much in the vein of Black Label Society, Clutch and other similar acts.  The song doesn’t let up even for a second from start to end of its nearly four-minute run time.  That musical arrangement is, in itself plenty of reason for listeners to appreciate this song.  Of course it is only one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content adds its own share of interest to its whole.

Keenan sings in this song’s lead verse, “Back in time before they crossed the line, and the truth was made of gold/Cross of paths that was based on the past, or so the story goes/Strike fear and the end draws near and the peasants wore a blindfold/Stack ‘em up, stack ‘em up, burn ‘em down and the peace remains unknown.”  He seems to be commenting on an age when people just gave in to the powers that be.  Interesting that the same sort of thing is happening even today.  He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “Burdened by a faith/Lost without a trace/Crippled by the tools/Made by the hands of fools/Start the fire and cast the first stone.”  This comes across almost as a call to action of sorts, as if Keenan is noting the power that religion has had on people and its impact, and that people need to stand up against those forces that be.  The rest of the song follows in similar fashion, again, insuring plenty of discussion through its metaphorical speak.  When this is coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, the two elements together make the song in whole a strong entry in the album’s body, and just one way in which the album proves itself another good effort from the band.  ‘Little Man’ is another was in which No Cross No Crown proves itself worth the listen among COC fans.

‘Little Man’ stands out in this album in part because of a musical arrangement that takes listeners back to the 1970s and the great stoner and southern rock music of the era.  Almost instantly, one’s thoughts move to Golden Earring, Lynyrd Skynyrd and so many other acts from that era in listening to the bombastic guitar riffs and booming rhythm section.  Of course that powerhouse musical arrangement is just one way in which the song stands out.  Its lyrical content serves to help it stand out, too.  Lyrically speaking, this song comes across as a piece about some people who have done someone wrong, and the struggle of trying to get through it all.  This is inferred as Keenan sings in the song’s lead verse, “Well I got me a distant story/So I wrote me a distant tune/Of how they used to bask in the glory/And how I wished that I could, too/Little man, be here tomorrow/They said they could change my ways, But instead they tried to stone me/And I been sleeping right here for a hundred days.”  He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “So I ran from here to El Paso/And arrived about half past June/Just in time for them to burn me/I think I woke up a little too soon/Little man, if you’re a preacher/Oh, then why you been looking so sad/He struck a match and then he burned me/Another honest man gone bad.”  Again, this all comes across as a story about someone who’s not exactly had the best of luck with people.  He even goes so far as to sing in the song’s chorus, “Now you know it’s hard to stop/Getting down from burning up/Now you know it’s hard to stop/Quit trying, baby/Just get somebody to save you.”  It’s as if the song’s subject is saying, “yeah, it’s easy to get down, and hard to get back up, but stop getting down and get back up.”  As always, that is just this critic’s own take on the lyrics and could be completely wrong.  Hopefully it is somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  Win or lose, the song’s lyrics here display their own depth that is certain to get listeners talking just as much as the lyrics of any of the album’s other entries.  That being the case, it’s yet another way in which this song serves to show again, why the album is a good return for COC’s classic lineup.  It is still not the last of the songs that serves this end, either.  ‘Nothing Left To Say’ is yet another way in which this album proves itself worth the listen.

‘Nothing Left To Say’ stands out among its counterparts in large part because of its musical arrangement.  The song’s verses start out with a slow, quiet, almost brooding vibe.  That vibe gradually gives way to a much heavier, crunching sound that conjures thoughts of Black Label Society.  The back and forth of that soft and heavy sound is a powerful musical statement that does more than its share to keep listeners engaged.  Much as with the previously discussed songs, it is only part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content deepens its impact even more as Keenan sings, “Life gave you everything/An you threw it all away/through the heart of darkness/Never feels the same/Huh, it never feels the same/Living like a fool/Nothing gets nothing/And I got nowhere to hide/Searching for the truth has to mean something/I’m just pushing against the tide/Nothing left to say.”  The contemplative nature of the song continues in the second verse as he sings, “memories/They seem like dreams/And time’s a gift of tears/Just a map to remember this/A future never planned/It’s what we cannot understand/Running like a fool/Distant existence/You’re living hand to hand/Isolated man/Hard to understand/Nowhere else to hide/Long for the feeling/Stand alone and pray/Nothing left to say.”  There’s a lot to be said here, right from the lead verse.  The first half of the lead verse seems to address someone who didn’t appreciate how good he or she has had it.  That seems to be compared to the song’s subject trying to make sense of his or her own life, saying, “Living life a fool/Nothing gets nothing/And I got nowhere to hide/Searching for the truth has to mean something/I’m pushing against the tide/Nothing left to say.”  It’s almost as if that subject is saying that he or she is trying to figure out life’s intricacies by comparison, trying to tell that other person to appreciate what he/she has.  Once more, that is just this critic’s own take on the song’s lyrical content.  It is not meant to be taken verbatim.  That seeming message continues in the song’s second verse as Keenan sings to that person, “You’re living hand to hand/Isolated man/Hard to understand/Nowhere else to hide.”  Once again, this seems like the song’s subject addressing that person, saying, “you just don’t appreciate what you have in life” and that “I’m just trying to make sense of it all, and you should, too.”  Keeping all of this in mind – again this is not the only interpretation — certainly other interpretations are there.  Considering the depth of the song’s lyrical content and its musical arrangement, one can understand now why the arrangement constantly goes back and forth in its heaviness and brooding.  It really illustrates the emotion in the song’s lyrical content.  To that end, the combination of the two elements here makes this song yet another clear example of what makes the album in whole stand out.  When it is considered along with the rest of the songs not directly discussed here, the whole of the album proves to be a good new effort from COC, even despite its production and mixing issues.

The production and mixing issues in question come into play, luckily not throughout the entire album, but are noticeable, including right from the album’s first full track, ‘The Luddite.’  Keenan’s vocals are nearly drowned out by his band mates here, sounding like he is way off in the distance the whole time.  ‘Wolf Named Crow’ suffers from the same problem, as does ‘Little Man’ (just not as badly as the previous songs).  Much the same can be said of the plodding ‘Old Disaster.’  There is even a slight issue with this imbalance in ‘A Quest To Believe (A Call To The Void) in the song’s chorus sections.  While it is a noticeable issue, it isn’t so bad that it makes the record a failure.  It just is something that hopefully will be taken into account in the band’s next album. To that end, No Cross No Crown is still a good return overall for Corrosion of Conformity and a good return to form for the band and one that the band’s most devout fans will still welcome in their music libraries.

Corrosion of Conformity’s latest full-length studio recording No Cross No Crown is a good return and return to form for the veteran sludge/southern rock band from Raleigh, North Carolina.  Its production poses some problems, but those problems are not enough to make the album a failure.  They are just something, collectively speaking, that must be addressed for the band’s next album.  The album boasts its own share of positives in the form of the songs noted here.  Between those songs and the rest of the album’s entries, the album’s musical and lyrical content give listeners plenty to appreciate here even despite the occasional audio issues.  They give the album plenty of depth and, in turn are certain to generate plenty of discussion.  Keeping that in mind, the album proves to be one more that COC’s most devout fans will welcome in their music libraries.  No Cross No Crown is available now in stores and online.  More information on No Cross No Crown is available online now along with all of COC’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.coc.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/coccabal

 

 

 

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.

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Project 86 “Among” Rock and Metal’s Best On Phil’s Picks 2017 Top New Hard Rock & Metal Albums

Courtesy: Project 86/TAG Publicity

For those about to rock, we salute you!

Yes, everyone knows that phrase from AC/DC’s classic song by the same name.  As popular as it is, it is more than just a song lyric and title.  It is a statement of honor for the acts and audiences who span the rock community.  This year, as with every year prior, there are so many bands to honor as the year nears its end, including hard rock and metal bands.  In case it hasn’t become clear by now, this article focuses on this critic’s choices for the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  As with every list before, compiling it was not an easy task.  New releases from Project 86, Arch Enemy, Iced Earth, and so many others made this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums very crowded.  That is putting it lightly.  Between well-known mainstream acts and their lesser-known independent counterparts, the two sides collectively offered so many impressive new albums.

Topping this critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums is Project 86’s latest album Sheep Among Wolves.  The band’s 10th full-length studio recording in 20 years, this record takes all of the best elements of the band’s past — both musically and lyrically — and uses them to craft a work that is just as memorable and engaging as its predecessors.  Also on this year’s list from Phil’s Picks are new albums from — as already noted — Iced Earth and Arch Enemy — as well as new offerings from Overkill, Act of Defiance, Prong, Adrenaline Mob, Blacktop Mojo and others. As with every list, this list presents this critic’s Top 10 titles plus five additional titles for a total of 15 records.  That being noted, here for you is Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Hard Rock & Metal Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW HARD ROCK & METAL ALBUMS

  1. Project 86 — Sheep Among Wolves
  2. Prong — Zero Days
  3. Act of Defiance — Old Scars, New Wounds
  4. Overkill — The Grinding Wheel
  5. Iced Earth — Incorruptable
  6. Blacktop Mojo — Burn The Ships
  7. Adrenaline Mob — We The People
  8. Marty Friedman — Wall of Sound
  9. Corroded — Defcon Zero
  10. Dragonforce — Reaching Into Infinity
  11. The Haunted — Strength In Numbers
  12. Doyle — As We Die
  13. Demon Hunter — Outlive
  14. 36 Crazyfists — Lanterns
  15. Arch Enemy — Will To Power

That’s all for this list.  Again, it was not an easy list to compile.  Acts the likes of Eve To Eve to Adam, Marty Friedman, Sepultura, Annihilator, Mastodon and so many others all deserve their own share of credit.  With that in mind, it becomes easy to see why no disrespect was meant to any one act or another here.  Every noted act released its own impressive album.  Only so many spaces were available, sadly.

2018 is already shaping up to be an interesting year in its own right, with new material from Ministry on the way alongside new albums from Judas Priest, Saxon, Machine Head, Corrosion of Conformity, Tool, Clutch and lots more.  Stay tuned for all of that in the new year.  To keep up with all of 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.

Prosthetic Records Announces COC Vinyl Re-Issues On The Way

Officials with Prosthetic Records announced recently that the label will re-issue two classic Corrosion of Conformity albums on vinyl.

Prosthetic Records will re-issue Corrosion of Conformity’s seminal 1991 and 1994 albums Blind and Deliverance. Each album will be re-issued on 180-gram vinyl. Release dates for the re-issues have not yet been confirmed. However it is known that re-issues for both albums will be limited to 1,000 copies each. Pre-orders for both albums are currently available in the Prosthetic Records webshop.

COC BLIND COVER ART

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Blind will be presented in a double-disc LP set in three separate 180-gram colors: purple (700 copies), black (200 copies), and clear (100 copies). It will also include a color lyric insert, liner notes by music journalist Chris Dick, and three bonus tracks that were included in the album’s 1995 re-issue on compact disc. The track listing for the upcoming vinyl re-issue of Blind is noted below.

“Blind” (2014 Double LP edition):

  1. These Shrouded Temples…
  2. Damned For All Time
  3. Dance of the Dead
  4. Buried
  5. Break The Circle
  6. Painted Smiling Face
  7. Mine Are The Eyes of God
  8. Shallow Ground
  9. Vote With A Bullet
  10. Great Purification
  11. White Noise
  12. Echoes In The Well
  13. …Remain
  14. Condition A/Condition B *
  15. Future Now (MC5 cover) *
  16. Jim Beam and the Coon Ass *

* first time ever appearing on vinyl

 

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Prosthetic Records’ re-issue of Deliverance will mark the first time in two decades that the previously out-of-print album has been re-issued to audiences. It will be presented in a gatefold jacket in three separate 180-gram colors: green (700 copies), black (200 copies), and red (100 copies). The track listing for Deliverance is noted below.

 

“Deliverance” (2014 LP edition):

  1. Heaven’s Not Overflowing
  2. Albatross
  3. Clean My Wounds
  4. Without Wings
  5. Broken Man
  6. Senor Limpio
  7. Mano de Mono
  8. Seven Days
  9. #2121313
  10. My Grain
  11. Deliverance
  12. Shake Like You
  13. Shelter
  14. Pearls Before Swine

 

Audiences can keep up with the latest on these re-issues’ release dates and all of the latest on other releases from Prosthetic Records online now at http://www.facebook.com/prostheticrecords, http://www.prostheticrecords.com, http://twitter.com/ProstheticRcds, and http://www.myspace.com/prostheticrecords. 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.

Adage Could Be North Carolina’s Next Big Name In Music

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Austin, Texas.  Seattle, Washington.  Los Angeles, California. Atlanta, Georgia.  New York, New York.  Most people reading this right now are likely scratching their heads where this is going.  The answer is simple.  The cities noted here are some of America’s biggest hotbeds in the music industry.  They aren’t the industry’s only major hotbeds, though. Most people might not know it, but North Carolina as a whole state is a music hotbed within itself.  As a matter of fact, North Carolina could be argued to be one of the biggest musical hotbeds in America.  That’s because of the variety of major name acts that have called North Carolina home throughout the ages.  Jazz pioneers such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Max Roach all called North Carolina home as did fellow jazz great Billy Taylor. Taylor hailed from Greenville, North Carolina while Monk and Coletrane came from Rocky Mount and High Point respectively.  The Fabulous Corsairs, which featured famed singer-songwriter James Taylor called Chapel Hill home.  In terms of the world of rock, the world renowned Corrosion of Conformity is still performing and recording today.  As a matter of fact, COC released its latest album earlier this year.  The band calls The Old North State’s capital city Raleigh home.  Delta Rae, which is one of the biggest of North Carolina’s biggest acts today calls Durham home as does indie band Bombadil.  Of course one can’t forget the likes of The Avett Brothers, Parmalee, Between The Buried and Me, or Trioscapes among so many others.  Now another young up and coming band has added its name to that list of bands and artists that have made North Carolina the rich musical hotbed that it is for so many decades thanks to its new EP Defined.  The band’s debut for Pavement Entertainment presents great potential for the Winston-Salem based band even with only a total of five songs.  The songs included on this record exhibit influence from bands such as Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, and to a lesser extent Trapt.  What’s more any of the songs included on this disc could easily be used as a single to promote the band.  That is obvious right off the top in the EP’s opening number ‘Anymore.’  It is just as obvious on the EP’s third and final songs, ‘Hold On’ and ‘By Myself’ respectively.’  ‘Best Of’ and ‘Growing Colder’ are also excellent examples of what audiences can expect from Adage’s new EP.  Collectively, the songs included on this record show Adage as a band that is on the brink of adding its name to the list of North Carolina’s biggest bands and artists.

The members of Adage show why the band is close to becoming another of North Carolina’s most well-known and talked about acts right from the outset of its new EP in the song ‘Anymore’  The song’s agro-rock stlye sound hints at influences both from the likes of Trapt and even Taproot to a slightly lesser extent.  Drummer Alex Hough’s timekeeping in this piece is exception especially considering the polyrhythmic patterns that he handles while keeping time for the band.  And the 1-2 punch of guitarist Luke and vocalist Justin Doyle heightens the song’s energy and emotion as well.  There is a certain furiousness in Doyle’s voice as he sings over the equally driving guitar line, “Everytime you look in my eyes you lie/And tell me everything’s alright/I know you don’t feel it anymore…I hate you/For all you’ve done to me/Some things you never see/And I don’t care.”  Songs about breakups are nothing new to the music industry.  They go back as far as the industry’s own beginnings it would seem.  But those songs that take the high road instead of the depression oh-woe-is-me angle are rather few and far between.  So when angrier, more aggressive pieces such as this one come along, they are a welcome change of pace.  That more aggressive lyrical and musical style that collectively make up this song makes it an instant radio ready song and a good representation of the band’s work on Defined.

As with ‘Anymore,’ ‘Hold On’ is also centered in the standard lyrical theme of relationships.  It also boasts the same agro-rock style that made so many bands in the late 90s and early 2000s fan favorites.  This song absolutely cries “LIVE” because of that sound.  Doyle sings Sorry that I’m not perfect/One day I will be worth it/To you/So hold on/I can’t ever find the right words/For saying nothing is so much worse to you/Hold on/All of this will come together/And I promise you/I promise you/Say goodbye for you.”  This song comes across as the polar opposite to the EP’s opener in that it seems more like his subject here is pleading for a woman to stay around versus the self-assured figure in ‘Anymore.’  He is trying his hardest to convince her to stay.  The musical comparison to the band’s bigger named counterparts only serves to make the song even more entertaining for audiences.  It goes to show the caliber of material the band is presenting here.  And that caliber is high, needless to say.  Together with ‘Anymore’ it makes for even more reason for fans to check out this EP when it drops August 19th.

Both ‘Anymore’ and ‘Hold On’ are good examples of what makes Defined an impressive new release from Adage.  Of the EP’s five songs, though there is still one more example of what makes this release the work that could potentially make Adage North Carolina’s next big name.  That song is the EP’s closer ‘By Myself.’  This song is a good way for the band to have closed out Defined.  It was such a good choice for a closer in that it shows the band’s softer side.  It’s a more melodic piece.  And among the EP’s five songs, it is perhaps the strongest candidate of all for the song that really breaks out the band.  Doyle sings in this song, “I’m crying out/Out for help/I just can’t be by myself/Remember how/How I felt/I just can’t see/By myself/I hear it from all sides/On how I should love you/I can’t make up my mind/On anything I do/Why am I here/Why won’t you just take me home/Why am I here/Why won’t you just leave me alone.”  The guitar breaks that follow the chorus are right up there with the likes of Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge) and other top named guitarists.  That along with the power in Doyle’s vocals make this song just as fitting a closer as ‘Anymore’ is the opener for the record.  Such a powerful final statement along with the EP’s other noted songs (and the pair not mentioned) seals the deal for Adage and for Defined.  It is the final piece of musical evidence proving why Adage is on the verge of becoming North Carolina’s next big name.

Defined will be available in stores and online Tuesday, August 19th via Pavement Entertainment.  Audiences can check out the songs from Defined online now via Adage’s ReverbNation website at http://www.reverbnation.com/adageband while they wait for the EP to drop.  They can also keep up with the band’s latest tour dates through that website and the band’s official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/adageband1.  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.

The Power Of Three Has Potential Staying “Power”

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

2014 is only a week or so old.  Despite the infancy of the year, things are already picking up within the music industry.  If the many lists of the year’s most anticipated albums are any indication, there is a lot to look forward to this year.  That’s especially the case in the world of rock and metal.  Albums from Slipknot, Tool, Earth Crisis, Corrosion of Conformity, Foo Fighters, Mastadon, Black Label Society, and so many others are already making purist rockers and metal heads the world over excited about the months to come.  Now, yet another performer has added his name that already extensive list of bands and artists whose albums are highly anticipated this year.  The performer in question is Monte Pittman.  Pittman will release his new album The Power of Three.

The Power of Three is quite the interesting listen for those that might be unfamiliar with his body of work.  While Pittman has had the honor of recording and touring with veteran New York based metal band Prong, he is most well-known for his work with none other than Madonna and former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert.  He has also recorded with former Spice Girl Melanie C. on her 2003 album Reason.  Considering that he has spent more time recording and touring with pop artists, Pittman’s new record, which will be released via Metal Blade Records on January 21st, will shock audiences.  That’s because it is anything but a pop record.  Rather, he and his band mates—Kane Richotte (drums) and Max Whipple (bass)—have crafted a ten-track record that is an early contender for a slot on this critic’s list of the year’s best hard rock records.  The album’s second song, ‘Delusions of Grandeur’ is a pummeling song that hints at influences from the likes of thrash pioneers Pantera.  This is the case at least in terms of the song’s musical side.  Pittman’s guitar work, alongside Kane Richotte’s solid drumming, make this an excellent first impression from Pittman and company.  Pittman shreds with the best of them.  And his vocal style may even lead some to compare it to that of Fireball Ministry front man James A. Rota III.  Whipple adds just enough low-end to bring everything together in this song.

Just as interesting to take in on this record is the album’s opener and lead single, ‘A Dark Horse.’  What makes the song so interesting is that there almost seems to be an old school Black Sabbath influence mixed into the song’s more prominent modern metal sound throughout its bridge and verses.  One wouldn’t think the two sounds would gel.  Low and behold, they work quite well together.  As a matter of fact, there’s no doubt that Pittman and company will have listeners putting their horns high with pride.  Yet again, all three members of the band work together here to make a song that will leave listeners breathless by the end of its near five-and-a-half-minute run time. And as with the album’s other songs, the production is just as solid as the music itself.  Not one member of the three-man organization overpowers the other at any one point throughout the song.

For all of the heavier material that comprises this record’s body, Pittman also proves that he can hold back even if only a little bit.  That’s evident in the almost Alice in Chains style ‘Everything’s Undone.’  Even more intriguing about the song is that the setup in the song’s opening moments may even conjure thoughts of Aerosmith’s ‘Back in The Saddle Again.’  It’s only momentary.  But it’s there.  On its lyrical side, it comes across as being rooted in the standard relationship issues that make up so many songs.  He sings, “Driving faster/getting closer/But I feel farther from you/Here we go again/Who’s to blame/Am I gonna get closure from you/Now you’re gone/Is there something I’ve done wrong…Now everything’s undone.”  It’s pretty obvious that Pittman is delving into a personal realm here.  The catch is that unlike so many songs that are rooted in relationship issues, this one takes that lesser travelled road, opting for a less “oh, woe is me” vibe and more for something with energy about it.  This is the case even in the song’s chorus. The song as a whole is just one more that makes this upcoming album well worth the listen and a definite early contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock/metal albums.  Fans will get to hear even more music from Pittman and his band mates when they perform February 22nd at Los Angeles’ famed Whisky A Go Go.  Tickets for that show can be purchased via Pittman’s official website, http://montepittman.com. Fans can keep up with the latest addition to Pittman’s tour schedule and all of his latest news online at http://montepittman.com, http://www.facebook.com/MontePittman, http://www.myspace.com/montepittman, and http://twitter.com/montepittman.  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.

KingShifter’s Debut LP Takes The Top Spot As 2013’s Top New Hard Rock Record

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

2013 has been a good year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Holy Grail, Black Sabbath, and Sevendust have made this a great year for the metal masses the world over.  Now with the release of its debut full length LP via Pavement Entertainment, Wichita, Kansas based KingShifter has just made the hard rock landscape that much more interesting.

KingShifter’s debut full length release, 26 Tons is an aptly titled record.  This eleven-track record is a heavy-hitting wrecking ball of hard rock.  From start to finish the album’s energy lets up only once.  That one time is in the near minute and a half acoustic piece, ‘.00125 lbs. (The Year of the Rat).  Other than that single moment, every other song on this record makes it one of the best debut records from a rock band (either mainstream or indie) in a very long time.  Its combination of hard hitting guitar licks, drums, and equally scathing lyrics make it a record that any purist metal head will appreciate.  And it all starts early on in the form of, ‘Revolution Generation.’  Front man Sprout sings about what’s happening to the country today.  From the epidemic of companies and doctors working together to sell their drugs, to the issue of school violence, Sprout runs the gamut.  Along the way he and his band mates wave a defiant musical flag declaring, “If we don’t do anything now/We’re soon to be doomed/We’ve got to stand strong/We shall not be moved/We are Americans/And we have proof/That we survived/The taxes, fiscal cliffs, and all of the wars/We’re here to tell you now/We won’t take it anymore!”  The song’s declaration of pride and self-empowerment is a call to arms and an anthem for a whole new generation.  And given the right support, could very well be the opening salvo in what breaks this band into the mainstream.

If ‘Revolution Generation’ isn’t enough example of what makes this a solid debut from KingShifter, then perhaps the equally hard rocking and defiant (yet far shorter) ‘STFU (& Die Already)’ will.  This punk styled piece comes in at just under two minutes long.  In that short time, this song hits just as hard as ‘Revolution Generation’ and any of the album’s other songs.  It is an intense song that goes after the news media—Sprout sings, “Television/I wanna burn it down”—and all of the negativity that clots television today.  In connection, he notes in no uncertain terms the effect that television has on people and his displeasure on the matter.

KingShifter’s debut record has plenty of social commentary and hard rock.  For all the commentary that it offers, there is some lighter material on this record, too.  Case in point, ‘Downin’ Booze – Raisin’ Hell.’  This song is a party song.  It’s an anthem for the blue collar workers across the country.  The influence from hard rock supergroup HellYeah is quite obvious both lyrically and musically in this song.  This is clear in the song’s second verse as Sprout sings, “I’ve been inside/Of this dirty cage/Locked inside for five whole days/I’ve gotta ease my mind/And leave that bulls*** behind/This ******’s gonna go on a rage!”  With such high energy lyrics and equally high energy music, this song is more than certain to become just one of so many fan favorites and fan anthems both on KingShifter’s record and at its live shows. 

The songs noted here are just a few examples of what listeners can expect from Kingshifter’s upcoming debut record.  There is much more that audiences will appreciate throughout the album.  So much more could be written of 26 Tons.  But to do so would require more time and space than is available.  Simply put, given the chance by radio programmers and by Pavement Entertainment, 26 Tons could make Kingshifter one of the next big names in hard rock.  The album will be available in stores and online Tuesday, September 3rd.  Fans can hear just some of the band’s music now online at the band’s official Reverb Nation page, http://www.reverbnation.com/kingshifter.  There’s even a music video from the band on its page, too.  Audiences can also check out the band’s music on its official MySpace page, http://www.myspace.com/kingshifter.  And to keep up with all of the latest news from the band, fans can follow the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KingShifterRock and on its official website, http://www.kingshifter.com

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COC Makes Its Home State Proud Again With Debut Re-Issue

Courtesy: Candlelight Records/Lumberjack Records

Three decades is a long time for any musical act to last.  It’s an even longer time for an act that has spent most of its career flying well under the mainstream music radar.  For such acts, managing to remain relevant and successful is a major feat.  Not many non-mainstream acts can claim this badge of honor.  One of the few that can is Raleigh, North Carolina’s very own Corrosion of Conformity.  Corrosion of Conformity has always flown just under that mainstream radar.  Yet despite that, this band has remained one of the most important bands in both the punk and hard rock communities throughout its near thirty years.  As the band’s thirtieth anniversary approaches, longtime fans and new fans alike are being re-introduced to the band’s roots thanks to Candlelight Records and Lumberjack Records.

Candlelight and Lumberjack have officially re-issued the band’s 1983 debut record, Eye for an Eye for the masses.  Coming off the heels of the band’s self-titled release earlier this year, this re-issue is an excellent juxtaposition of the aforementioned record.  Both records boast the punk sound that made the band popular from the beginning.  In putting the two albums side by side, the progression that the band has made is obvious.  Even more evident is that while the band has grown, it hasn’t lost its punk roots in the time since its debut.  In comparison to the records released with former front man Pepper Keenan, the sound of the band’s debut is vastly different.  It would be improper to try and compare the band’s more punk based records with the more southern sludge rock tinged records.  That would be comparing apples to oranges.  The songs on Eye for an Eye are punk at their finest.  They are short, fast, and loud.  The longest track on this disc is just over three minutes.  And the shortest song clocks in at less than thirty seconds.  To be exact, it’s timed in at precisely twenty-three seconds long.  Whether three minutes plus or less than a minute, the intensity of this punk classic still makes it a fan favorite and a must have for any COC fan and fan of real punk in general.  It serves as a reminder of everything that was once right with the punk genre.  Next to the band’s new self-titled release, the pair serves as a reminder that despite the glut of happy hopping pop punk that plays across the airwaves every day, real punk is still out there.

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