Audiences Will Enjoy John 5’s New LP In Every “Season”

Courtesy: 60 cycle hum records

Early this past March, guitarist John 5 released his new solo recording Season of the Witch.  The famed guitarist’s now ninth overall solo instrumental recording, Season of the Witch proves from start to finish that it belongs on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock albums.  That is due in part to the album’s songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements at the center of each song are just as important to note as the songs themselves in examining the album’s overall presentation.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the album’s overall presentation.  All things considered, Season of the Witch proves to be a record that rock fans will enjoy in every season.

John 5’s latest solo instrumental record Season of the Witch is a record that rock fans will enjoy in every season.  That is due in part to the songs that are featured in this recording.  While the guitarist, whose real name is John William Lowery, is known largely for his work with the likes of Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and David Lee Roth, this record displays his versatility as a musician once again.  Lowery reaches liberally into the rock realm throughout the course of the record’s 13-song, 39-minute run time.  But it is not the only realm into which he reaches as is proven in the likes of ‘Behind The Nut Love,’ ‘Hell Haw’ and ‘Ode To Jasper.’  The first of the group is a country-western style song while the second is a fun, up-tempo bluegrass/rockabilly style work that even incorporates a touch of jazz at the same time.  ‘Ode to Jasper’ is a beautifully tragic work that will tug at any listener’s heart strings even while it clocks in at not even two minutes.  Getting back on the matter of the album’s rich rock reachings, listeners will be impressed at the amount of ground Lowery covers in that realm.  From the industrial leanings of the album’s title track/closer to the almost Joe Satriani/Living Colour-esque sound of ‘Now Fear This’ to the prog-rock sound of ‘Here’s To The Crazy Ones’ and beyond, this record displays great diverse talent from Lowery and his fellow musicians.  That diversity forms a solid foundation for this new offering from the famed guitarist.  The arrangements at the center of the songs build onto that foundation, strengthening it even more.

The arrangements at the center of the record’s featured songs are so important to note in examining the album’s presentation because they exhibit just as much diversity as the songs themselves.  Yes, there is a lot of high-velocity guitar playing throughout the record.  However, Lowery also proves that he can play just as expertly in more contemplative moments as he can in wilder moments.  That is proven throughout the record as he goes from full-on riffs to other elements and back time and again.  ‘Guitars, T**s, and Monsters’ is one of the songs that supports this statement.  This song mixes Jimi Hendrix-esque riffs with a touch of Eddie Van Halen fluidly for a song that clearly exhibits his (and his band mates’) ability to handle such quick shifts in style.  The whole thing winds down with a rather reserved arrangement that gently places listeners, albeit breathless, on another musical shore.  ‘Hell Haw’ is another example of  the diversity presented in the songs’s arrangements.  This song takes the classic jazz tune ‘Who Could Ask For Anything More’ and crosses it with a touch of rockabilly and bluegrass, clearly showing Lowery’s ability to handle all three genres in one whole. The same can be said of his fellow musicians.  It is, in fact, one of the moments that allows them to really put their talents on display.  Very much the same can be said of the simplistic arrangement in ‘Ode To Jasper.’  This song’s arrangement only calls for a small handful of notes to be played throughout.  Yet even with so few notes being played by any of the band members, the gentility in those notes and their gentle flowing nature creates a massive emotional impact.  Considering this it is one more arrangement that proves the arrangements in the album’s featured songs are collectively just as diverse as the songs themselves.  Keeping that in mind, that diversity—which is shown just as much through the album’s other arrangements not noted here—proves to be just as important to this record’s presentation as its songs.  It is not the last of the record’s most important elements either.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The diversity in SOTW’s songs and their arrangements are both key pieces of the record’s whole.  Each element ensures in its own way listeners’ engagement. They are not the record’s only important elements.  Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  The record opens and closes with a nod to Lowery’s industrial roots.  In between, Lowery and company take listeners on quite the musical ride.  The transition from ‘Black Grass Plague’ and ‘Guitars, T***, and Monsters’ eventually makes way for the more controlled riffs of ‘Now Fear This’ before the band really pulls back in the country-western ‘Behind The Nut Love.’  From there, the energy picks back up shortly in ‘Making Monsters’ and ‘Here’s To The Crazy Ones’ before pulling back again in ‘The Macabre,’ which despite its name, sounds anything but macabre.  If anything the harmonics incorporated into the mid-tempo ballad style song makes for an interesting emotional impact.  The record’s energy rises again from there before reaching that already noted deeply emotional ballad that is ‘Ode To Jasper.’  The final powerful punch of the record’s title song makes for the ideal ending to the album.  When it is considered along with the rest of the record’s crests and troughs, the whole picture is one is even more certain to keep listeners engaged.  When this consideration is joined with the notes on the record’s songs and their arrangements, it becomes clear that much time and thought was put into crafting this album.  That time and thought resulted in a record that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.

John 5’s new instrumental solo record Season of the Witch is a work that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.  That is evidenced through the diversity in the record’s songs and their arrangements.  The record’s sequencing provides its own share of diversity, too.  That diversity across the board makes this record one that is certain to entertain not just rock loyalists but music lovers in whole.  It shows that this record deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records and potentially the year’s top new albums overall.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Season of the Witch is available online now along with all of John 5’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.john-5.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/john5official

Twitter: http://twitter.com/john5guitarist

 

 

 

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Black Utopia Re-Issue Another Hit For Sherinian

Courtesy:  Armoury Records/Eagle RockEntertainment

Courtesy: Armoury Records/Eagle RockEntertainment

Derek Sherinian’s second solo album Black Utopia is an interesting work from this world renowned keyboardist.  There is so much to say about this record and not enough space or time to go into everything.  So instead of rambling, we’ll hit on the main points of what makes this album just as enjoyable for Sherinian’s fans the second time around as it was in its original release.   The first aspect of this album that makes it so enjoyable is its sequencing.  That is to say the order of the songs.  The second factor that listeners will appreciate (especially those that might be hearing the album for the first time) is the A-list guest stars that agreed to be a part of this album.  The third factor in the success of the album’s re-issue is the reworked liner notes.  All three of these factors together make Black Utopia an album that any Derek Sherinian fan will appreciate just as much in its new re-issue as they did in its initial release some ten years ago.

The success of Black Utopia is thanks in large part to its sequencing.  The album’s sequencing greatly exhibits the understanding of and appreciation for music possessed by both Derek Sherinian and co-producer Simon Phillips.  The pair treat Black Utopia as if they were creating a set list for a live show.  The energy of the songs rises and falls just enough throughout the course of the album’s nine tracks to keep listeners fully engaged.  That energy rises and falls just enough within the context of the songs themselves to make the energy in the transitions between songs even more impactful.  It shows on a deeper level, the pair’s understanding of and appreciation for their craft.  The resultant effect is one the makes this album one of those rare albums that listeners will want to take in from start to finish without skipping even one song. It’s just the starting point of the album’s success, too. And that’s saying something.

Black Utopia’s success is thanks in large part to its sequencing.  The sequencing of the songs would be moot without the music crafted by Sherinian and the guest musicians that make appearances on this album.  That is the second factor in this album’s creation that makes it a success.  Sherinian invited some of the biggest names in the business to join him on this record.  And it’s a good thing they accepted his invitation.  Among those major names are the likes of Simon Phillips (The Who, Judas Priest, Gary Moore, etc.), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Al Di Meola (Return To Forever, Chick Corea), Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big) and others.  Their talents are well shared throughout the record.  The whole group teams up on the album’s opener for what is without a doubt one of the album’s absolute best works.  Malmsteen puts on a virtual clinic with his shredding, while Sherinian himself manages somehow to mix in a touch of jazz/fusion at one point, adding even more flare and substance to the song.  And the combination of Zakk Wylde, Simon Phillips, Tony Franklin and Jerry Goodman on ‘Nightmare Cinema’ is incredible.  Sherinian’s etherial keyboard part set against Phillips’ drumming early on perfectly illustrates the song’s title.  It establishes quite the eerie vibe.  The eventual addition of Wylde on guitar adds even more depth to the song as it progresses.  It is simply something that must be heard in order to be fully appreciated.  The same can be noted of the album’s remaining tracks.  Sherinian  and his fellow musicians come together on each song to show just why their addition to Black Utopia is such an important part of the album’s overall success.

The who’s  who of musicians recruited to record Black Utopia alongside Derek Sherinian is just as important to the success of the album as its sequencing.  Without the talent of the musicians in question, the sequencing would not be all that important to discuss.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case here.  And because it wasn’t the case, it leaves only one remaining factor to note of this re-issue.  The factor in question is the updated liner notes included with the album.  This time out, Black Utopia includes an article crafted by journalist Joe Lalaina, of Guitar World magazine.  Lalaina outlines the album in his own words.  Sherinian’s own thoughts on Black Utopia are also included as a follow-up to Lalaina.  Listeners will take special interest in Sherinian’s comment about working with Brian Tichy (Something Unto Nothing, Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol).  He notes that it was his friendship and working relationship with Tichy that led the pair to work together on this album.  There’s also mention of his excitement of working with both Yngwie Malmsteen and Al Di Meola.  One of his comments in particular regarding this can’t be repeated here.  But it will most definitely have listeners laughing.  It’s the finishing touch to an album that any hard rock fan should hear at least once now that it has been re-issued by Armoury Records.  More information on this and other albums from Derek Sherinian is available online at http://www.dereksherinian.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.

Gus G. Debuts EPK Ahead Of New Single, Album Release

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and Firewind front man Gus G. will release his debut solo album this Spring.  I Am The Fire is scheduled to be released March 18th in the United States.  It will be released March 17th in Europe.  It will be released worldwide via Century Media Records.  Before he releases his debut, Gus G. has released a brand new EPK that offers audiences a look inside the making of the album.  Fans can check out the new EPK online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJd38EoTLkA&feature=youtu.be.

The album’s title track is impacting radio now.  It is currently playing on Sirius RadioXM Octane.  It will be added to mainstream radio stations’ playlists beginning next Tuesday, February 18th.  It features the members of hard rock band Devour The Day as special guests.  It will go on sale digitally via iTunes February 25th.  The track listing for I Am The Fire is listed below.

        ‘I AM THE FIRE’ TRACK LISTING:

  1. My Will Be Done (feat. Mats Levén)
  2. Blame It On Me (feat. Mats Levén)
  3. I Am The Fire (feat. Devour The Day)
  4. Vengeance (feat. David Ellefson)
  5. Long Way Down (feat. Alexia Rodriguez)
  6. Just Can’t Let Go (feat. Jacob Bunton)
  7. Terrified (feat. Billy Sheehan)
  8. Eyes Wide Open (feat. Mats Levén)
  9. Redemption (feat. Michael Starr)
  10. Summer Days (feat. Jeff Scott Soto)
  11. Dreamkeeper (feat. Tom S. Englund)
  12. End Of The Line (feat. Mats Levén)

Gus G. handled all guitar, bass, and keyboard parts on his solo debut.  Brought along for the record were drummers Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Devo) and, Daniel Erlandsson (Arch Enemy) bassists David Ellefson (Megadeth), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), and Marty O’Brien (Tommy Lee, We Are The Fallen), and vocalists Mats Leven (Candlemass, ex-Yngwie Malmstein/Therion), Blake Allison (Devour The Day), Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Alexia Rodriguez (Eyes Set To Kill),Tom S. Englund (Evergrey), Jacob Bunton (Adler) and Jeff Scott Soto (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, ex-Journey).  The album was produced by Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Anthrax, Steel Panther).

More information on Gus G., his new album, tour news and more is available online at http://www.gusgofficial.com, http://www.facebook.com/officialgusg, and http://twitter.com/gusgofficial.  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.

Eagle Rock Keeps Raising The Bar With Prog Rock Supergroup’s New Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment has done something to which few if any other record labels can do.  Somehow, some way, Eagle Rock Entertainment has managed to raise the bar over and over with each one of its new live releases.  It seemed like after 2012, there was no way that it could top itself.  Then 2013 came along and it inexplicably topped itself over and over again.  And now, it has done just that once more with the brand new release of Live in Tokyo from virtuosos Mike Portnoy (Ex-Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Transatlantic), Billy Sheehan (Talas, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), Tony McAlpine, and Derek Sherinian (Planet X, Ex-Dream Theater, Platypus).  This new live release is one more incredible release from Eagle Rock that continues to prove why this company is at the front of the pack when it comes to live recordings.  And it’s now available on double-disc CD, DVD, and Blu-ray as well as digitally.

Whether one is a fan of Dream Theater, Planet X, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth, or even every one of the projects in which these top talents has ever taken part, this live recording is an absolute must for audiences on either side of the fence.  The ninety-minute plus performance covers material from each of the artists’ body of work.  It opens with a bang with the first movement of Dream Theater’s famed A Change of Seasons EP before seguing into the hit ‘Acid Rain’ from Portnoy’s Liquid Tension Experiment side project.  Both songs were the perfect choice to open the performance as they waste no time setting the tone for the rest of the night.  Regardless of which side one takes on the split between Portnoy and his now former brothers in Dream Theater, there is no denying that he hasn’t lost a single step since his decision to step out on his own. And if one were listening to these two songs without seeing that it wasn’t Liquid Tension Experiment or Dream Theater, they would instantly think it was both.  That’s the level of talent displayed not just by Portnoy, but by his band mates in this performance.

The opening pair of performances from this recording’s set list are incredible to say the least.  They’re just the tip of the iceberg as audiences will note.  Whether in the slower, more groove oriented ‘Stratus’, the manic energy of Sherinian’s own composition, ‘Apocalypse 1470 B.C.’ or another of Dream Theater’s hits, ‘Lines in the Sand’all four musicians on stage proved what makes them such highly respected individuals.  McAlpine and Sheehan may have never been members of Dream Theater, but they showed that they know Dream Theater’s catalogue.  Had John Petrucci and John Myung been in attendance, they would have been smiling.  The same can be said of Sherinian’s band mates from Planet X of Portnoy and company in ‘Apocalypse 1470 B.C.’  And the band’s take on composer Georges Bizet’s ‘Farandole’ is truly something to behold.  Collectively, these four men have crafted a show that is anything but a tribute band or cover band.  Rather, what they have done is crafted a show celebrating the other and their work.

The songs chosen for this performance present four musicians that are at the top of their game.  And the quality of the recording both on its visual and audio side is top notch, too.  The audio and video mix on the DVD and Blu-ray is perfectly balanced.  This is especially noteworthy being that this performance was recorded at an indoor venue.  Indoor venues present their own problems for recording even at a professional level because the sound is contained in such a finite space.  It could so easily cause the mix to become “muddy.”  But Simon Phillips and company overcame that boundary with ease both on the visual and audio side of the recording.  Those behind the cameras deserve just as much credit as anyone for capturing the concert.  The angles of the shots put home viewers right up in the drum throne with Mike Portnoy and alongside his band mates.  At other times, the wide angle crowd shots are just right in capturing the enjoyment of the audience.  Viewers can see the genuine appreciation of the audience in attendance for what each musician presented.  It serves to heighten the overall viewing experience even more.  And together with that expertly mixed video and audio, it all comes together to make Portnoy Sheehan McAlpine Sherinian Live in Tokyo one more bar higher set by Eagle Rock Entertainment, and a definite must for any fan of each member’s bands past and present.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.

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.