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.

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‘The Grinding Wheel’ Shows Overkill Is Still “Grinding” It Out Successfully

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

The countdown to the year’s end is officially on, and that means for the music industry, the push is officially on to start assembling those annual year-end “Best Of” lists.  One of the lists that this critic in particular has seen overflowing with impressive titles is that of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  New releases from the likes of Prong, The Haunted, Dragonforce and so many others have easily proven themselves deserving of a spot on that list by any critic.  No critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums would be complete without the inclusion of Overkill’s latest album the Grinding Wheel.  Released this past February, this 11-song, 64-minute album is an offering that reminds audiences once again why even after more than 30 years, Overkill is still one of the elite acts in the hard rock and metal realms even.  That is even as the band continues to embrace the mantra of if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  The old school thrash riffs that have made the band a constant fan favorite throughout its life combine with equally interesting lyrical content here to prove why this record is one more of the year’s top new hard rock and metal offerings.

Anytime that Overkill releases a new album, it will find its way onto critics’ lists of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.  The New Jersey-based thrash outfit’s 18th (yes, 18th) full-length studio recording The Grinding Wheel is no exception to that rule.  That is proven right from the album’s outset in ‘Mean, Green Killing Machine.’ The song’s arrangement boasts riffs in its verses that easily lend themselves to some of the greatest classic thrash works from fellow thrashers Exodus, Metallica, Megadeth and others of that ilk.  In the same breath, the combination of front man Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s vocal delivery with those riffs also conjures thoughts of so many classic Judas Priest songs.  The inclusion of the song’s more blues-based hard rock arrangement in its bridge adds even more interest to the song.  The sudden change between those two wholly separate styles is, needless to say, stark.  Yet at the same time, it still is not enough to ruin the song, musically speaking.  It only makes it that much more interesting.  Keeping that in mind, it is only one part of what makes this song proof of what makes The Grinding Wheel yet another standout record from Overkill.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss as its musical arrangement.

Ellsworth sings here, “Somewhere out where no one knows/Rusts a cool revolution fight/Way out there where no one goes/And it’s got to keep moving/Got to keep getting it right/So here’s to the piston charged/Combustible delight/The single-minded supercharged/That’s got to keep moving/Got to keep getting it/A call to arms/A call right through the dream/A call to action/Blow up the in-between/Feed, feed your engine/Feed, feed the wolverine/Feed, feed the tension/Mean green/Killing machine/C’mon, C’mon say what my name is/Mean green killing machine.”  Ellsworth goes on in the song’s further verses to deliver what seems like commentary perhaps about the world’s religious and business leaders, leading to the belief that perhaps while not a politically charged song, it is a lyrical worked aimed at reminding listeners to not just give in to the things being force-fed to them.  That is just this critic’s own take and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Ellsworth could easily have been making a wholly different statement.  That ability of these lyrics to create so much discussion in itself is even more proof of the importance of the song’s lyrical content.  When that content is joined with the song’s rich musical arrangement, the end result is a song that clearly exhibits what makes The Grinding Wheel yet another solid offering from Overkill.  It is hardly the only of the album’s songs to support that statement.  The album’s title track is one more example of what makes The Grinding Wheel another standout album from one of metal’s true elite acts.

‘The Grinding Wheel’ proves just as much as ‘Mean Green Killing Machine’ what makes Overkill’s latest album so enjoyable in part to its musical arrangement.  As with the previously discussed song, this composition also boasts an arrangement that is pure thrash at its finest.  It lends itself just as easily to comparisons to works from Judas Priest as the album’s opener, too.  Considering this, it goes without saying that this song’s musical arrangement is just as solid as those presented in the rest of the album’s songs.  That being the case, the next sensible step here would be to examine the song’s lyrical content.  This song’s lyrical content is just as intriguing as that in the album’s opener and the record’s other songs.  Ellsworth sings here, “A bed of nails/Cold, dark, deep refrigeration/I hear it calling me/A broken rail as he drools over the congregation/I hear it calling me/Now I won’t tell you how to live your life/I never saw the point in thinking twice/I turn the wheel by day, by night/Raise your flag/Here’s to the liberation.”  The song goes on in similar fashion with equally cryptic statements throughout that are just as certain to leave listeners talking and thinking as the song’s lead verse.  Again, that ability to so easily engage listeners, even just through its lyrical content, is another way in which the song proves an important part of the record’s whole.  When it is joined with the song’s musical arrangement, the two elements in whole support that statement even more.  Even considering this, it still is not the last of the songs included in this record that shows what makes the album stand out.  ‘Shine On,’ which comes early in the album’s run is one more example of what makes the record stand out.

‘Shine On’ is another key example of what makes The Grinding Wheel stand out, as with the previously discussed songs, in part due to its arrangement.  The up-tempo, guitar-driven arrangement.  The arrangement presented here is a polished composition that lends itself directly to comparisons to some of Metallica’s greatest thrash style works.  Even as the song turns more doom-sounding bridge, that slower–yet no less heavy–section is a perfect fit that gives listeners just enough time to catch their collective breaths without losing them.  It is only one part of what makes this song another key addition to The Grinding Wheel.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss as its musical arrangement.

The lyrical content presented in ‘Shine On’ is important to discuss because of its seemingly anthemic nature.  That anthemic nature is inferred, at least to this critic as Ellsworth sings in the song’s chorus, “We got no patience, but we get through/We got no patience, but we got you/All of the paraders shout no fear/All of the hurricaners with their fists up in the air/Someone else gave the order to the band/Someone else ignored us/Left the cat out in the rain/One more fire before I die/One more fire, get me high/Climb on down to the fire/Climb on down to the flame/Leave your battles behind you/Shine on Doomsday/Shine on Doomsday.”  This all comes across as the band paying tribute, lyrically, to its fans, inspiring audiences to never give up on anything in life as they thank their fans for their dedication.  Again, this is only this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Either way, this song’s lyrical content comes across as a loud, proud statement from the band.  When that seemingly loud, proud statement is joined with the song’s equally heavy, driving musical arrangement, the whole of the song shows why it is an important addition to the album’s whole.  When the song is joined with the other songs noted here (and those not noted), the album in whole shows clearly why it is another powerhouse offering from Overkill, and an easy candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Overkills’ 18th full-length studio recording The Grinding Wheel is a presentation of a band that more than 30 years into its life is still successfully grinding it out.  Yes, that awful pun was fully intended.  That is due to the solid, heavy musical arrangements presented throughout the course of the album’s 64-minute run time.  The record’s arrangements are everything that the band’s legions of fans have come to expect from its records throughout the years.  What’s interesting about them here is how polished they sound in each case.  The album’s collective lyrical content will have listeners thinking and talking just as much as its musical arrangements. From seeming commentaries (of sorts) to fist-pumping anthems and points in-between, the songs’ lyrical content gives listeners plenty to be happy about, too.  Keeping thin in mind, The album in whole proves to be a work that any Overkill fan will appreciate and agree deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on The Grinding Wheel is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.wreckingcrew.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OverkillBand

 

 

 

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.

Dragonforce Releases New Single, Live Video From Upcoming LP

Courtesy Metal Blade Records

Dragonforce gave audiences their first taste of the band’s new album this week.

The band released ‘Judgement Day’ this week.  The song is the lead single from the band’s upcoming album Reaching Into Infinity.  The song is streaming online now here.

While there, audiences can pre-order the album and check out a live video of the band’s classic song ‘Ground and Pound,’ which was released this week, too.  The performance was taken from the band’s Jan. 5, 2016 concert at Woodstock Poland.  That concert will be included in Reaching Into Infinity’s special extended CD/DVD platform.

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Along with its standard and expanded edition, Reaching Into Infinity will also be available on a limited edition 2 LP gatefold platform.  Sides A&B are translucent purple while Sides C & D are fluorescent green.

The album will also be available on digital platforms. Exclusive physical bundles will be available with Dragonforce T-Shirt.

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

 

Reaching Into Infinity’s track listing is noted below.

Reaching Into Infinity special CD/DVD edition track-listing:
Disc 1 – CD
1. Reaching into Infinity
2. Ashes of the Dawn
3. Judgement Day
4. Astral Empire
5. Curse of Darkness
6. Silence
7. Midnight Madness
8. WAR!
9. Land of Shattered Dreams
10. The Edge of the World
11. Our Final Stand
Bonus Tracks
12. Hatred and Revenge
13. Evil Dead
Disc 2 – Bonus DVD: “DragonForce Live at Woodstock Festival Poland 2016″
1. Holding On
2. Heroes of Our Time
3. Operation Ground and Pound
4. Holding On (Multi-angles)
5. Heroes of Our Time (Multi-Angles)
6. Operation Ground and Pound (Multi-Angles)

The band will hit the road this summer in support of Reaching Into Infinity beginning July 7 in San Francisco, CA.  The band’s current tour schedule runs through July 29 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla and also includes dates in Texas, New York, and Canada among other locations.  The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.

DragonForce tour dates:
July 7 – San Francisco, CA – Slims
July 8 – Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
July 9 – Mesa, AZ – Club Red
July 11 – San Antonio, TX – The Rock Box
July 12 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey
July 14 – St Louis, MO – Fubar
July 15 – Chicago, IL – Chicago Open Air
July 17 – Detroit, MI – El Club
July 18 – Washington DC – Rock & Roll Hotel
July 20 – New York, NY – Highline Ballroom
July 21 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
July 22 – Bangor, ME – Rise Above Festival
July 23 – Montreal, QC – Corona
July 24 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
July 26 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade (“Heaven”)
July 27 – Orlando, FL – The Beacham
July 28 – Tampa, FL – Orpheum
July 29 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room

More information on Dragonforce’s new single, album, tour and more is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.dragonforce.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DragonForce

 

 

 

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.

Dragonforce To Release New LP This Spring

Courtesy Metal Blade Records

Courtesy Metal Blade Records

Dragonforce has a new album on the way.

The band announced on Wednesday that it will release its next full-length studio recording this spring.  Reaching Into Infinity will be released in the U.S. on Friday, May 19.  The album will be released via Metal Blade Records.

Many of the songs included in the upcoming record were composed during the band’s recent tour in support of its 2016 hits collection Killer Elite.  The band used studios on both sides of the Atlantic to record the record, as bassist Frederic Leclercq explained.

“We were flying out, playing a festival, then back into the studio then back out again,” Leclercq said.  “It was very intense and very tiring.  I obviously played bass, but also a lot of rhythm guitar, electric and acoustic, and lost my temper a few times – I think we all did at some point, because we wanted to deliver nothing but the best.”

LeClercq, who wrote the majority of the new record’s songs, said the album attempts to show the band going in a direction in which it has never gone in its past six albums.

“I think we have proven that playing fast is something that we are good at, so this time I wanted to bring even more diversity into our music,” Leclercq said.  “It’s great to challenge ourselves instead of staying in a comfort zone, and I really wanted to experiment with Marc’s [Hudson] vocals.  I think people are going to be surprised at his brutality.”

He added the album’s title is meant to be a reflection of music even in the world’s current state.

“The title of the album explains pretty much what we are trying to do with our music,” Leclercq said.  “Today’s world is really crazy – There is fear of the future, uncertainty.  But the power of music is infinite, and it can give strength and hope to people.”

Drummer Gee Anzalone makes his drumming debut with the band on the upcoming record.  Guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman are still on board in this presentation, too.

Fans will get their first taste of Reaching Into Infinity when the band takes the stage at the 2017 Chicago Open Air Festival on July 15 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL.  More information on the Chicago Open Air Festival is available here.

More information on Reaching Into Infinity is available online now along with all of Dragonforce’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.dragonforce.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DragonForce

 

 

 

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.

‘Killer Elite’ Is A “Killer” Hits Collection From Dragonforce

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Late this summer Dragonforce released its first-ever hits compilation for the masses in the form of Killer Elite: The Hits, The Highs, The Vids.  The British power metal outfit’s first-ever attempt at a hits compilation is in fact a “killer” collection. That is due in part to its featured songs.  That will be discussed shortly.  Just as important to note as the songs in this compilation is the way in which the songs are presented.  Those who haven’t yet picked up this record don’t understand right now, so it will be discussed later.  Last and most definitely not least of note in this collection’s presentation is its bonus DVD.  It rounds out the collection’s most important elements. Each element is clearly important in its own right to the collection’s overall presentation.  All things considered, Killer Elite: The Hits, The Highs, The Vids proves to in fact be a killer first effort at a hits collection for Dragonforce.

Dragonforce’s first attempt lives up to its title.  It is in fact a killer collection.  That is due in no small part to the record’s featured songs.  The 2-disc, 22-song collection pulls songs from each of its six current full-length studio recordings.  The most heavily represented of those albums is the band’s 2004 sophomore record Sonic Firestorm.  ‘My Spirit Will Go On’ is pulled from that album as are ‘Fury of the Storm,’ ‘Fields of Despair,’ ‘Dawn Over A New World,’ and ‘Soldiers of the Wasteland.’  Valley of the Damned, the band’s 2003 debut album is the next most heavily represented of the band’s albums here.  It is represented by four songs – ‘Black Fire,’ ‘Valley of the Damned,’ ‘Starfire’ and ‘Heart of a Dragon.’  The Power Within (2012) also sees four of its songs included in this collection while Inhuman Rampage (2006), Ultra Beatdown (2008) and Maximum Overload (2014) are each represented by three songs.  What all of this says to the band’s fans is not only is this a thorough collection of Dragonforce’s songs, but it is also a relatively well-balanced collection of songs, too.  This is just one of the collection’s most important elements.  The presentation of the songs themselves is just as important to note as the songs themselves.

The songs that make up the body of Killer Elite: The Hits, The Highs, The Vids are collectively the foundation for the collection’s presentation.  They are pulled from all six of the band’s current full-length studio recordings. What’s more, when one examines them closely, the full sequencing balances the albums’ representations relatively well.  That is just one of the collection’s most important elements.  The songs’ presentation is another key piece of the record’s presentation.  This might sound confusing to some. To clarify it, not all of the songs that are presented in this album are studio tracks, even though they are songs pulled from the band’s albums.  Some of the songs featured in this record are live performances of said songs instead of being purely studio songs and others are remastered versions of said songs, meaning they sound even better than the songs’ original recordings.  In other words, this hits collection isn’t just a random grouping of singles.  That is a breath of fresh air.  It is a career-spanning collection that also takes audiences into the band’s live shows even if only a little bit through its 2-CD set.  This enhances the overall listening experience for fans even more.  Of course, the band goes above and beyond providing not only a listening experience for fans in its first-ever hits collection.  It also included a DVD featuring a handful of music videos in the record’s extended 2-CD/DVD set.  That DVD rounds out the record’s most important elements.

The songs presented in Dragonforce’s first-ever hits collection and the manner in which they are presented are both key elements to this collection’s presentation.  While both elements are clearly important in their own way to the collection’s presentation, they are not its only key elements.  Included along with the record’s 2-disc, 22-song audio collection – which spans two and a half hours – is a bonus DVD featuring eight music videos from the band. It is especially encouraged for fans who might be unfamiliar with the band’s videos as a way to introduce them to the band’s music without having to go through YouTube or other outlets.  For the band’s more seasoned fans, it proves to be just as enjoyable while they wait for the band to release its next album and accompanying videos.  When this is considered along with the collection’s songs and their presentation, the end result is a collection that is, again, a killer first attempt at a hits collection from Dragonforce.

Killer Elite: The Hits, The Highs, The Vids lives up to its title in a manner of speaking.  It is a killer first try at a hits collection from the band.  That is due in part to the collection’s career-spanning sequencing.  The songs’ presentation includes not just studio songs, but live and remastered tracks, too. That enhances the package’s presentation even more.  The bonus DVD included the collection’s exclusive 2-CD/DVD combo pack rounds out its most important elements.  It serves as a solid introduction to the band’s music for new fans that doesn’t require them to go online and an equally enjoyable collection of performances for more seasoned fans, too.  Each element is important in its own right. That goes without saying.  All things considered, they make Killer Elite: The Hits, The Highs, The Vids a truly killer first hits collection from one of power metal’s most outstanding acts.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this collection is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.dragonforce.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dragonforce

 

 

 

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.

Dragonforce Announces Release Date, Specs For Upcoming Live Recording

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

It is finally official. Dragonforce’s new live recording will finally become reality this summer.

Officials with Metal Blade Records announced on Friday that Dragonforce’s new live recording In The Line Of Fire will be released on Friday, July 10th. That is the first official release day on the music world’s new “Global Release Day.” The recording will be released both on double-disc Blu-ray and double-disc DVD presentation. One disc of the DVD presentation will feature the band’s performance on DVD, The other will feature the performance on CD. Both presentations feature the band’s Ultimate Stage headlining performance from the 2014 Loud Park Festival at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Regardless of which platform fans choose, they can pre-order either or both right now online at http://www.metalblade.com/dragonforce. Audiences can check out the trailer for the recording online now along with one of the songs included in the show’s setlist–‘Three Hammers–via SoundCloud at http://www.metalblade.com/dragonforce. Fans can also see the band performing that same song via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIv3cmvZRTI.

Dragonforce is currently wrapping up a tour alongside Kamelot, which is also touring in support of its latest new release Haven. The bands will perform live today, May 23rd at Iron City in Birmingham, Alabama. Once that show is done, the band will take some much-needed time off before heading overseas for the European leg of its tour beginning with the famed Download Festival at Donington, U.K. It will begin the Asian leg of its tour in Bangkok, Thailand on August 29th. That tour runs through September 11th in Tokyo, Japan. As an added note, the band will return to the United States this fall on November 13th for the second leg of its tour with Kamelot. That tour includes a stop in North Carolina’s “Queen City” on November 17th at The Fillmore. Fans can keep up with the band’s latest tour updates and news online now, including news on its upcoming live recording, at:

Website: http://www.dragonforce.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dragonforce

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.

Native Construct Makes A Loud Statement With Its Debut LP

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Every year, any number of albums is released across the music world’s various genres. The number of albums featuring new material typically ranges somewhere in the hundreds. Of those hundreds of new albums released across the musical universe each year, far too few of those albums really stand out as works that will make listeners stop and want to say, “Hey, come listen to this!” However with the release of its debut album Quiet World, progressive metal band Native Construct has brought just such an album to the world. As a matter of fact, the Boston, Massachusetts-based trio’s debut is one of the most unexpected surprises of the year. It is one of the year’s most unexpected surprises not just within the rock and metal community but in the musical universe in whole. That is meant in the most positive manner possible, too. The main reason for its unexpected enjoyment is its wholly original story. Yes, that’s right. It is a concept album. And boy, what a concept. The album’s story follows a man who creates a world for himself in his mind after the woman he has feelings for makes it clear that she doesn’t have those same feelings for him. That’s just the beginning. It’s also just the beginning of what makes this album stand out so strongly. The album’s vast mix of musical styles makes the album stand out even more. It’s not just another prog rock or prog-metal record. Musically speaking, this album is a work that fans of Native Construct’s label mates Between The Buried and Me will appreciate. Last but hardly least of all that makes this record shine so brightly among the hundreds (if not thousands) of other albums out there already this year is its run time. The album’s seven total tracks bring the album’s run time to forty-eight minutes. For a concept album, that really is not that long. And that has to do largely with the run times of each of the songs that make up the album. That will be discussed at more length later. For now, taking into consideration the record’s relatively short run time along with its original story line and equally original compositions, all three elements come together to show exactly why this record should be on any music critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Metal Blade Records just announced this week that after only its first week in stores and online, Native Construct’s Quiet World has been making *ahem* quite a bit of noise in its own right. The band’s debut album roared into the #56 spot on Billboard’s Hard Music Album’s Chart and the #85 spot on Billboard’s New Artist Chart. Considering that this is the band’s debut album it says a lot about the notice that it’s garnering from critics and audiences alike. It would be no surprise if it ends up on at least some critics’ year-end lists of the best new hard rock and metal albums come December, too. The lack of surprise comes mainly through the record’s concept. As the band notes on its Facebook page, the album centers on the story of a man—a mute—that creates his own “perfect” world inside his mind as a result of unrequited love. The band notes that the unnamed figure had feelings for a woman, but the woman in question didn’t share his feelings. This leads to the creation of his “perfect” world. The problem is that soon after its creation, even his own “perfect” world proves to be anything but perfect. It does have a happy ending of sorts, not to give away too much information. But the real payoff here isn’t necessarily the story’s end but the journey to the end. The story crafted by the band—Robert Edens (vocals), Myles Yang (guitar), and Max Harchik (bass)—is a work that no other band or artist within the prog-rock realm has ever tried. And considering that it is the makeup of the band’s debut album makes it even more interesting. It’s just one reason that anyone thirsting for something original should hear at least once. It’s not the only reason that audiences should pick up this record, either. The album’s equally creative sound is just as worth noting in that avenue.

Native Construct took a huge risk releasing a concept record for its debut record. Even within the world of rock, the concept record is very much a niche format. Considering that the album debuted on not one but two of Billboard’s charts in its debut week shows that the risk paid off quite surprisingly. The surprise showing is obviously thanks at least in part to the album’s original and creative story. On another level, the music that serves as the story’s “soundtrack” shows in its own way why the album has made such an impressive surprise debut. Anyone that is a fan of Dream Theater, Spock’s Beard, or even the band’s label mates in Between The Buried and Me will especially enjoy the multitude of styles presented throughout the record. The Spock’s Beard influence is obvious right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Mute’ which introduces the story’s lead character. The song mixes something of a jazzy style and a more prog-rock sound that in a weird way actually works quite well. Even more interesting here is that it suddenly breaks into a symphonic power metal sound akin to that of perhaps Powerglove or Dragonforce with Edens boasting a powerhouse death metal style growl as he screams, “At last they all hear my voice/And this will make them see/That there is no being/In this world that will dare defy me.” Considering such lyrics, it makes sense that he would utilize such a vocal style. It could be argued to be a stylistic foreshadowing of sorts for what is to come later.

The hybrid jazz/prog-rock sound established in Quiet World’s opener is only the first example of this record’s musical diversity and how that diversity makes the record in whole well worth the listen. ‘The Spark of the Archon’ boasts its own mix of sounds. The prog-rock influences are there. And so is a sound that one can almost compare to easy listening believe it or not. Again, this is something that not even other prog-rock and prog-metal bands right now are trying. While the influences of the noted bands are there, none of the noted bands have tried mixing all of these styles together. The mix of sounds featured in Quiet World’s opening songs is also presented throughout the remainder of the album, with each element (including Eden’s occasional death metal growls) getting equal time in each song. The end result of that mix of sounds from beginning to end is an album that proves to be just as creative musically as lyrically. It makes for double the reason for rock lovers looking for something original to check out this record. Even with all of its musical and lyrical originality and creativity, there is still more to note that makes the album worth the listen whether listeners are fans of concept records or not.

Quiet World’s original lyrical and musical presentations are both plenty of reason for rock lovers to pick up Native Construct’s debut album. They work together to make this record one that stands out not just within the rock world but more specifically the progressive rock realm, too. Believe it or not, the album’s run time actually plays just as much a part in making the album stand out as its music and lyrics. The album’s run time makes it stand out because it actually breaks that mold, too. Its run time comes in at well under an hour. To be more specific, it comes in at roughly forty-eight minutes. That is not very long for a concept album especially with it consisting of only seven tracks. More often than not, the standard run time of a concept album is an hour at the very least. They can even run easily past that mark and then some depending on the band. Again, Quiet World does the exact opposite. The album’s songs hit a wide swath of run times with the shortest barely topping the two-minute mark and the longest clocking in at nearly thirteen minutes. the rest run between five and eight minutes in length. So even those that aren’t the biggest of concept album fans will appreciate that Native Construct didn’t follow the standard concept album formula even in this aspect. It’s yet one more way that Quiet World, in its own way, makes a big sound and why it more than deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Native Construct has made quite a loud statement with its debut album Quiet World. The album is a concept album. But in comparison to so many concept albums that have come before, it breaks the formula used for those albums in every way possible. Its story is wholly original and creative. The same can be said of the songs that serve as the story’s “soundtrack.” And even the album’s run time breaks the concept album mold. It does so both on a micro and macro level. The songs themselves are generally not that long save perhaps for the album’s near thirteen-minute closer and its almost nine-minute opus ‘The Spark of the Archon,’ which comes in early in the album. The rest of the albums hit a variety of run times, each of which are sure to keep listeners’ attention with equal ease. Collectively, the songs’ run times bring the album’s overall run time to a total run time of forty-eight minutes. That is anything but the norm for a concept album. Such nonstandard run times partnered with equally original and creative music and writing proves in the end that this record is fully deserving of being placed on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums come December. Quiet World is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Metal Blade Records’ online store at http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords/band/native-construct. More information on Quiet World is available online now along with Native Construct’s latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://www.metalblade.com/nativeconstruct

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

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