‘Psychotic Symphony’ Is A Brilliant Work From Some Of Progressive Rock’s “Titans”

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Late next month, progressive metal outfit Sons of Apollo will make its way to Nroth Carolina as part of its tour in support of its debut album Psychotic Symphony. The performance is scheduled for Feb. 13 at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. Audiences who have yet to experience this new recording from the long time friends — Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Liquid tension Experiment), Derek Sherinian (ex-dream Theater, Platypus, Alice Cooper), Billy Sheehan (Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, Steve Vai), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses, Art of Anarchy) and Jeff Scott Soto (Trans Siberian Orchestra, SOTO, Rising Force) — will definitely be in for quite an experience. That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The album’s lyrical content plays into that experience, too. It will be discussed later. The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, putting the finishing touch on the project. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of this nearly hour-long recording. All things considered, they make the album in whole a powerful effort from what is in its own right true rock royalty.

Prog-metal super group Sons of Apollo’s debut album Psychotic Symphony, released this past October via InsideOut Music, is yet another strong effort for the veteran musicians who came together to create the record. Regardless of whether this proves to be just a one-off program or something more long term, it can be said that it impresses from beginning to end. That is proven in part through its diverse musical arrangements. Right off the top, audiences are treated to an arrangement that echoes hints of Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity courtesy of Sherinian’s keyboards and Portnoy’s work behind the kit. Thal’s guitar work is right up there with that of John Petrucci’s from that album, too. Soto’s vocal delivery expertly compliments the work put in by his band mates, sounding like a cross between James LaBrie and Fozzy front man Chris Jericho. Speaking of Fozzy, the album’s second offering, ‘Coming Home’ boasts an arrangement that can easily be likened to so many works from Fozzy. That is due again to the coupling of the song’s instrumentation and Soto’s vocal delivery. ‘Signs of the Time,’ which comes next changes things up even more with a full on prog-metal opus that expertly balances its heavier down-tuned guitar-driven verses with its more melodic choruses. The result of that balance is an arrangement that is easily one of the album’s high points, but most definitely not its only positive. The arrangement at the center of ‘Labyrinth’ is its own positive. It starts with a tense string arrangement that eventually builds to a solid yet just as tense rock arrangement complete with the rest of the band. From there, the arrangement gradually builds even more until finally climaxing in its bridge almost six and a half minutes in. From there, the song’s energy gradually declines but doesn’t let off too much. By the time the nine-minute-plus opus ends, audiences are left breathless as they agree that this arrangement is yet another of the album’s high points. As if all of that is not enough, the arrangement at the heart of ‘Divine Addiction,’ the album’s penultimate entry, conjures thoughts of early Deep Purple. ‘Opus Maximus,’ which closes out the album, is an aptly titled work. That is because its arrangement is nearly incomparable to anything else out there. The only seemingly feasible comparison that can be made (at least in this critic’s ears) is if one were to take the best musical elements of Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment and mix them together into one whole. the result would be this absolutely bombastic work. When the song ends, audiences will be so blown away that they will agree, the musical adventured embarked upon 57 minutes ago is one of a kind and one that was well worth the trip. As much as this record’s musical arrangements do to the positive for its presentation, they are only one part of what makes the album stand out. Its lyrical themes are just as important as those arrangements.

The lyrical themes presented throughout Psychotic Symphony are key to the album’s presentation because they are just as varied as the album’s musical arrangements. The album’s opener is a prime example of that importance. Soto sings in the song’s lead verse, “Through desert skies and far beyond the ocean/I am the star that shines eternal glow/Forever you’ll know/A cold desire that’s feelin’ no emotion/I am the fire that burns inside your soul/I’m inside your soul/’Cuz I am the light/Surrender tonight/I am the face of tomorrow/Now I’ve just begun/You can’t hide or run/’Cuz I am the god of the sun.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse of this figure “healing wounds” and a “prophet crying out for mercy.” There is even mention of an “invited illusion” and “fallen temptation with desperation.” This is rather metaphorical speak to say the very least. Considering that the Egyptian sun God Ra was a false deity as was Apollo in Greek mythology, one could assume that here, the God in question is being used as a metaphor for some commentary on established religion in general. On the other hand, it could be something wholly different. It would have been nice to hear [Mike] Portnoy and [Derek] Sherinian discuss the meaning behind the song’s lyrics in their song-by-song discussions that are available now on YouTube. Even without any discussion by the pair, it goes without saying that this song, which seemingly is rooted in religion (or perhaps in mythology), is certain to generate plenty of discussion among audiences if it hasn’t already done so. That being the case, it is just one way in which the record’s lyrical themes prove so important to its whole.

‘Alive’ is another song that serves to show the importance of the album’s musical themes. This song seems (again, just to this critic) to come across as perhaps a statement of someone who has overcome so much in life. This can be inferred right off the top in the song’s lead verse as Soto sings, “Colorize the sadness/The fear is black wnad white/Tunnel of denial/Looking for the light/The devil on my shoulder/The master of disguise/Can you hear him singing/Release me from the past/This tortured life I’ve sown/I’ve been down/I’m tired of being alone/I can’t hear the silence/Screams into my soul/The truth is ringing.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse that “I’m alive” and of basically starting over thanks to his parents. Its’ definitely thought provoking. There’s even mention of eliminating all the negativity of the past as the song nears its bridge. Considering this, the argument that this song lyrically seems to be about overcoming difficult situations in life begins to hold even more water so to speak. When the Veer Union/Sevendust-style musical arrangement is added to the mix, the emotion of such a moment becomes stronger. Once again, this is the interpretation of only this critic. It would, again, be nice to learn the true meaning behind the song’s lyrics. Either way, the discussions that again are certain to be generated show the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.

‘Coming Home’ is yet another example of the importance of this record’s lyrical themes. This song seems to be more of a defiant statement as Soto sings, “Now I’m not so suspicious/You’re downright malicious/Can’t make a fool outta me/You’re scheme’s complicated/Your pride is inflated/Seized by a social disease/There’s a voice screaming outta my head/There’s a truth that I don’t wanna know/Cross the line that’ you’re gonna regret/Is it me/Is it you/So get out of my way/Goin’ out on my own/Now remember my name/’Cause I’m coming home.” Again, there is plenty left to the imagination here considering that the song doesn’t just come out and say what it means. It definitely comes across as a positive work, lyrically, though. Keeping this in mind, it adds even more depth to the album. When that depth is joined with the depth generated by the album’s other lyrical themes, it makes the album that much stronger. When the depth generated by the album’s lyrical themes is joined with that of the album’s musical arrangements, the whole makes the album that much more solid. Even with this all in mind, it still is not the last of the album’s most important elements. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

Psychotic Symphony‘s sequencing is so important to note in examining its overall presentation because of how much even it adds to the record. From start to end, the album maintains a solid energy that barely lets up at any point. The most that it lets up (if one can even call it letting up) comes in the opening moments of ‘Labyrinth’ as the string arrangement sets the stage for the song to come. Even that moment isn’t too light. Rather the tension that is built here actually maintains the album’s energy, just in a way that is separate from the album’s first three songs. Even as the band moves into ‘Alive,’ which is arguably the album’s most radio-ready track, the energy there doesn’t even pull back too much. From that point on to the album’s end, the band keeps things moving almost nonstop, insuring that much more, listeners’ engagement. Keeping this in mind, that maintained energy proves to be important in its own right. Had the album been presented in any other order, that might not have been the case. Lukcily though, that didn’t happen, meaning again only positives. That becomes even more the case as this element is joined with the album’s musical arrangements and lyrical themes. All things considered, they make Psychotic Symphony a solid work from a group of brilliant musical minds.

Sons of Apollo’s debut album Psychotic Symphony is a solid first outing from some of today’s great musical minds. From start to finish, this progressive metal offering is a work that any prog rock purist will enjoy. That is proven in part through the record’s varied musical arrangements. Its equally varied lyrical themes are just as certain to impress because of their ability to generate so much discussion among audiences. The album’s sequencing proves in its own way why this record is so impressive. Each element plays its own important part in the whole of Pyschotic Symphony. All things considered, they make this record yet another successful outing for some of the titans of progressive rock. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Psychotic Symphony is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.SonsOfApollo.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SonsOfApollo1

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SonsOfApollo1

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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.

Wylde & Co. Shine Again On Unblackened Blu-ray

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Entertainment One

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Entertainment One

Black Label Society’s Unblackened is not the first live recording released by the band.  It is however a recording that any true society dweller from any chapter will want to include in their own Black Label library.  As front man Zakk Wylde notes in the recording’s bonus interview segment, the performance contained on this recording is not an acoustic show.  It is by and large a selection of songs altered from their original state.  In some cases, the songs have been toned down from their originals.  In other cases, the songs have just been altered and made even more beautiful and moving than before.  That’s just one part of what audiences will appreciate from this new live recording from Black Label Society and Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The performance itself is noteworthy.  That’s because unlike most normal Black Label live events, this one is itself toned down.  Audiences will also appreciate the bonus material included with the recording.  Already mentioned is the bonus interview.  It is the highlight of the bonus features.  There is also a home movie of sorts included from HM Prison in the UK.  It’s a great opportunity to see Wylde sitting down and performing by himself.  These two additions and the bonus music video for ‘Losin’ Your Mind’ complete the presentation and make it another must have for any true BLS fan.

The first thing that audiences will appreciate from Unblackened is the presentation of the songs that make up the show’s set list.  Longtime BLS fans that recall the band’s 2011 semi-acoustic release, The Song Remains Not The Same will get a pretty good idea of what to expect from this show in listening to that record.  Much like with that release, the songs included in the set list for this show are not acoustic.  Rather, they are toned down by and large from their heavier original forms.  In other cases, the songs have been re-tooled and made even more beautiful and moving from their already “slower” state as Wylde himself stated of them in the recording’s bonus interview.  Wylde said himself in an interview some years ago that a song doesn’t have to be heavy and crunching to be heavy.  He has proven that time and again since then.  This latest performance is just the latest way in which he has proven that, too.  They also prove that it’s okay for even the toughest people to have a softer side.  Speaking of that softer side, the show itself presents a softer side of both Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society.  It’s another reason for any BLS fan to check out this live DVD and Blu-ray.

The songs chosen for the set list in this show are a big reason for the show’s success.  But there is still more to take into consideration in evaluating this recording.  The show itself is another factor to take into consideration.  Just as the songs in the show have been toned down and re-tooled, so has the show itself to reflect that altered vibe of the songs.  Just as Wylde and company prove that songs can be heavy without being HEAVY, the set itself proves that a show can be powerful without pryo, and all of the other standards that go with typical hard rock shows.  It’s really a wonderful experience to behold even in watching from home on DVD or Blu-ray.  That’s especially the case in watching the emotion in Zakk’s eyes as he sings ‘In This River’ and ‘I Thank You Child.’  The home video that accompanies this song makes it an even more emotional moment.  Watching Zakk’s reaction to seeing his younger self with his daughter will bring a tear to anyone’s eye.  It’s just one of so many wonderful moments shared throughout the concert.  And it’s just one more reason that this is such an incredible performance.

The songs and the overall concert itself are both factors that make Unblackening a must have for any BLS fan.  Fans will also appreciate the bonus interview and solo performance from Zakk included in the recording.  The interview is broken up into short segments that are bookended by mini-segments of the main concert.  The “interview” segments are so enjoyable because fans get to see just how down to earth Zakk is.  This critic has had the honor of personally interviewing Zakk many years ago.  And the man presented in these segments is the man that this critic interviewed.  He is easygoing.  None of his comments are meant to be taken with much seriousness.  It’s a great chance for fans to see this side of Zakk especially if they hadn’t seen this side of the veteran guitarist and vocalist before.  The home video of his solo performance at HM Prison in the UK is just as enjoyable as his “interview” segments.  It is a home video of sorts.  So audiences shouldn’t expect the audio to be expert level.  But it’s still a wonderful experience because it shows just one more side of Zakk that perhaps audiences might not usually get to see.  Together with the aforementioned “interview” segments and the main feature, it makes the whole of Unblackened another great live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment and Black Label Society.  It is available now on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.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.


Dream Theater At Its Peak In Its New Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

New York based veteran prog-rock band Dream Theater has been creating music for well over two decades.  To be more exact, almost twenty-five years have passed since the band’s debut album When Dream and Day Unite was originally released.  That release saw Charlie Dominici on vocals, with then drummer and keyboardist Mike Portnoy and Kevin Moore and founding members John Petrucci and John Myung on guitar and bass.  Dream Theater has seen a number of lineup changes since then.  Dominici was replaced with James LaBrie, who still fronts the band today.  Kevin Moore was replaced by Derek Sherinian and then later by current keyboardist Jordan Rudess.  And Mike Portnoy has also since left for greener pastures and been replaced by Mike Mangini, giving audiences the band’s current lineup.  What does this have to do with anything one might ask.  It has everything to do with everything.  As audiences will see in the band’s brand new live recording, Live at Luna Park, DT has never sounded better than it does with its most current lineup.  This latest live release is Dream Theater at its peak.  That is the first thing that audiences and fans will take away from LALP (as it will henceforth be known).  Longtime fans will also appreciate that while the term “career-spanning” isn’t bandied about for this recording, it is a justified term in this case.  This is the case despite the fact that not all of the band’s albums are represented in this concert.  And those with HDTVs and home theater surround sound systems will appreciate the overall sound and video mix throughout the concert.  They are the icing on the cake of this recording and together with the aforementioned elements, make LALP one more example of why Eagle Rock Entertainment continues to lead the pack in the world of live recordings.

The very first thing that audiences will notice about LALP is that this recording presents Dream Theater at its collective best.  Longtime fans of the band will agree with this sentiment, too.  No disrespect is meant to any of the band’s now former members.  But there is a certain something about the band in this concert that feels different from any of the band’s previous live recordings. It feels like the band has a whole new energy about it.  There’s no denying the talents of the band’s former (and founding) member, Mike Portnoy.  He is still one of the best drummers in the industry today.  But watching Mike Mangini behind his kit, there’s also no denying that Mangini is right up there with Portnoy in terms of his abilities.  Watching him perform his crossover maneuvers and reach up above himself to play his rototoms without missing a beat is breathtaking to say the least.  Getting to see him perform from so many angles makes that experience even more awe-inspiring.  It’s enough to make one question could Mangini in fact be even better than Portnoy?  That’s a topic for another time.  Getting back on topic, keyboardist Jordan Rudess more than lives up to the moniker of being a keyboard wizard, as audiences will both see and hear throughout the concert.  Just as much awe is felt watching bassist John Myung as he works his way through each of the numbers in this performance.  It’s obvious in watching this recording why Mynug has maintained the nickname of “The Octopus” throughout his career with Dream Theater.  One would be remiss to omit any mention of guitarist and vocalist John Petrucci and James LaBrie.  They too prove that they still have plenty left in the tank.  LaBrie is still a vocal powerhouse to this day.  And Petrucci can still shred with the best of them.  What’s more, he looks like he has seriously bulked up.  Put a mask on him, and he could be mistaken for Slipknot guitarist Mick Thompson.

It’s obvious in watching LALP that Dream Theater is at the top of its game right now.  If the band were to call it a career right now, then the musicianship of the band’s members alone would be a fitting immortalization of the band in this recording.  It’s not the only aspect of the recording to which audiences have to look forward.  Fans will also appreciate the extensive set list.  While this performance doesn’t necessarily cover the band’s entire catalogue, it does quite the job of representing most of the band’s albums.  That being the case, it’s safe to use the term career-spanning here.  Audiences will each have their own favorite moments from this concert.  This critic personally recommends the band’s original take on ‘The Silent Man’ for starters, off of the band’s 1994 album Awake as a starting point.  The string accompanists make the song even richer than the already impressive take included on the album.  On the heavier side, ‘Pull Me Under’ was the perfect choice to close the show.  This is the song that broke Dream Theater out and truly introduced the band to the masses in 1992.  And ‘Caught in a Web’ is a good middle ground piece for audiences to take in.  This song also came from the band’s 1994 album, Awake.  It’s not too hard or light.  It’s a good, solid driving rock song.  And experiencing it being performed with the band’s current  shows once again that Dream Theater hasn’t lost any steam over the course of nearly twenty-five years.  It’s just one more aspect of a recording that is the perfect starting point for the band’s new fans and just as impressive for those that have followed the band from its earliest days.

The set list and the talent displayed by the band throughout this performance are incredible, to say the least.  Just as incredible and noteworthy are the audio and video mixes.  Home viewers are taken into even more depth with this recording than those in attendance got.  Thanks to the work of the camera crew and director Mike Leonard, viewers are taken up close and personal so to speak with the band.  They get to be the proverbial fly on the wall, watching keyboardist Jordan Rudess work his magic and drummer Mike Mangini do things with his two hands that don’t even seem humanly possible at every turn.  Mangini’s talents behind the kit will assuredly blow away every viewer, drummer or not.  That is thanks to his talents being so effectively captured by the show’s camera crew and director Leonard.  The side-by-side shots of Petrucci and Rudess are just as impressive.  They serve together to add even more to the overall amazing effect of the performance itself.  Not one shot is wasted.  Nor is any mic.  Those with HDTVs and surround sound home theater systems will get the most immersive experience of all with the show’s Blu-ray recording.  And even if one doesn’t own a surround sound system, the audio and video mix alongside the show’s set list and the amazing display of talent by the band will still impress audiences, regardless of how long they have been listening to the band.  And should the band put out another live recording in the future, it goes without saying that it is this same mix of elements that will make it tough for Dream Theater to top this recording.  It is definitely the band at its best.  And it’s available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  More information on this and other releases from Dream Theater as well as the band’s latest tour news and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/dreamtheaterofficial and http://www.dreamtheater.net.  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.


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.


Dream Theater Launches New Translated Websites, Preps New Live Release

Courtesy:  MSO PR

Courtesy: MSO PR

Internationally renowned progressive rock band Dream Theater has launched brand new translated websites for its fans in four more countries.  The band has launched translated websites for fans in Argentina, Israel, Italy, and Venezuela.  Fans in each nation are the first of likely many more nations in bringing fans closer to the band by translating its news page into their own language.  The push for broadening the fans’ inclusion started during the band’s tour in South America.  Guitarist John Petrucci notes that many of the fans across the continent voiced the need for websites translated into their own language.  “Our efforts to further unite our online international community have only just begun,” he said.  “We are very fortunate to have so much incredible support and devotion from fans in many different countries around the world, and we hope that more and more fan communities will participate in this ongoing endeavor.  We look forward to hearing from fans interested in having the news page translated for their countries.”  Jordan Rudess (keyboards) added to Petrucci’s sentiment noting, “We are excited to be working with these first four fan sites, and can’t wait for others from around the world to reach out to us on Facebook.”

Anyone that is interested in working with Dream Theater to have the band’s news page translated for their country can contact the band online at http://www.facebook.com/dreamtheaterofficial.  The band’s new translated news pages are just part of the band’s busy schedule.  Dream Theater’s new live release, Live at Luna Park is set to be released May 2013.  It will be released on a double-disc DVD set, Blu-ray, Digital Video, 2DVD/3CD set, Blu-ray/3CD set, and deluxe 2DVD/Blu-ray/3CD set.  Fans can check out the trailer for the upcoming live release online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NndiL9seZSI

Live at Luna Park was recorded over the course of two nights from the band’s South American tour.  Petrucci shared his thoughts on the upcoming release, exclaiming how excited he and the others in the band are about this live recording.  “This is without a doubt the closest a viewer at home will come to experiencing a live Dream Theater concert,” he said.  “Between the hi-def and 3D video, the huge audio mix and the documentary style behind the scenes footage, you are truly transported to the arena and completely immersed in the entire live experience.” 

To keep up with the latest news and more from Dream Theater, fans can go online to http://www.dreamtheater.net, http://www.facebook.com/dreamtheaterofficial, and http://twitter.com/dreamtheaternet

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