Lord’s New EP Is A Strong Second Helping Of Its 2019 Album ‘Fallen Idols’

Courtesy: Dewar PR

Independent hard rock band Lord is giving its fans a bonus from its recently released album Fallen Idols.  The band is scheduled to release its new EP Chaos Raining is scheduled for release Friday.  The three-song record is an intriguing record because while it is being marketed as an EP, it is technically another of those records that is in reality more single than EP.  That is not to say that the record is a failure for the band.  Rather, its track listing does serve as something of a negative for the record’s presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  While the track listing is undoubtedly an issue for Chaos Raining, it is the record’s only negative.  The EP’s musical content is very much a positive worth noting, so it will be addressed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the EP’s musical content is notable in its own right and is also deserving of attention.  It will also be addressed later.  All three noted items are important in their own way to the whole of this EP.  All things considered, they make Chaos Raining a presentation that hard rock and metal fans will find worth hearing at least occasionally.

Lord’s forthcoming EP Chaos Raining is, for the most part, an enjoyable new offering from the independent hard rock band.  That is due in part to the record’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are powerful, guitar-driven works that will appeal to fans of bands, such as Judas Priest, Dragonforce and Firewind.  That is evident through the combined guitar work of the band’s front man “Lord Tim” and fellow guitarist Mark Furtner as well as through “Lord Tim’s” operatic vocal delivery style.  Even the extended take of the EP’s title track deserves attention, with its keyboards and semi-industrial metal approach.  That element takes precedence in this song, but the original work’s guitar and drums are there.  The choral approach taken with the vocals gives the song a touch of an 80s hair metal sound.  This all seems like a lot, and it is, but somehow, the band manages to balance all of those elements for a whole that despite being nearly 10 minutes long, is still wholly entertaining in its own right.  Keeping that in mind along with the engagement and entertainment that ‘Chaos Raining’ and ‘A World Insane,’ the whole of the EP’s musical content offers audiences plenty of motivation to take in this record.  While the arrangements do echo the style of arrangement that the band has presented in its past works, the actual sound is different from those works.  In other words, the style is the same as in previous works, but the songs overall are not identical in their sound.  They are original in their own right, in layman’s terms.  Even set against one another, the arrangements here are original in their overall sound.  That makes the EP that much more worth hearing.

For all that the arrangements do to make Chaos Raining a positive new presentation from Lord, the songs overall are somewhat problematic.  As with so many other records that have been released this year, one can argue that considering the EP’s makeup, is being improperly marketed.  The EP is in fact more single than EP.  That is because the record’s title song is itself from another album.  The one extra original is likely a b-side that did not make the final cut for Fallen Idols.  The extended remix of ‘Chaos Raining’ is basically just a bonus track.  So while it is original in its own right, it is still just a remix of one of the record’s two original songs.  In other words, the EP is essentially a single from the band’s bigger 2019 album that also features two extra works.  One of those works is likely a castaway from the original sessions for that album while the other is just a re-worked version of the single.  Keeping that in mind, the record is still enjoyable to hear, but is still more single than EP.  Since it is being marketed as an EP, it still deserves its own spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new EPs even despite everything noted.

While the makeup and marketing of Lord’s new EP is questionable, it does not make Chaos Raining a failure by any means.  It does impact the record’s place in any critic’s list of the year’s top new EPs, but is still a work that will appeal to hard rock and metal fans.  That is due in large part to the record’s musical content, though the musical content is just one part of what makes the record worth hearing.  The lyrical content that accompanies the musical content adds to that engagement.  The EP’s second song, ‘A World Insane’ comes across as a social commentary of sorts.  “Lord Tim” sings in the song’s chorus, “A world gone insane…we cry out in vain/And now with open arms/We carry on and try to find our way.”  Now while much of the song’s lyrics are indecipherable sans lyrics, just enough is understandable to make an inference about the theme.  “Lord Tim” mentions in the song’s second verse about looking around and seeing no one around, adding mention about being on the precipice.  In other words, the seeming statement hints at things being in a very bad state right now.  When this is considered along with the note of carrying on with arms wide open, it leads to the assumption that the song focuses not just on how bad things are, but of people’s resilience and determination to get through all of the bad.  This in itself is certain to generate interest and discussion among audiences.  It is just one of the ways in which the record’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.  The EP’s title track will generate its own interest with its seemingly more personal story.

“Lord Tim” sings in the lead verse of ‘Chaos Raining,’ “You cast your gaze upon my form/Into cold eyes that once were warm/Hardened by sorrow, I still bleed/I will arise from bended knee.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “The days loom grey/Forever seem/My mind engaged in pain unseen/Suffer the past/Onward I roam/Through severed ties I walk alone.”  He adds in the song’s chorus, “Say goodbye/I’m lost forever/The storm, it rages on and on/I’m stronger/For every day that dies/I’ll wonder/The chaos raining down/I’m drowning under.”  As the song enters its third verse, “Lord Tim” sings, “The years estranged/Like endless waves/Our time is gone/Now swept away/Torn down/Rebuilt in iron gleam/This broken man becomes machine.”  At this point, the song returns to its chorus once more with its statement about being stronger despite everything.  It can be inferred between that statement and the commentary in the verses that this song focuses on someone who is pushing on even as the world seems to fall down around him; a person who has been mentally and personally “rebuilt.”  As always, this is just this critic’s interpretation. Hopefully it is close to being a correct interpretation if not completely correct.  That aside, it is content that is certain to generate its own share of discussion among audiences, especially when it is considered alongside the song’s musical arrangement.  All things considered, the song’s thought provoking lyrical content is just one more way in which the EP’s lyrical themes prove to be just as important to its presentation as its musical arrangements.  Those arrangements and the lyrical content together make Chaos Raining a record that while maybe not the purest example of an EP, still a record that heavy rock fans will appreciate.

Lord’s forthcoming EP Chaos Raining is a work that will appeal to a wide range of hard rock and metal fans.  That is due to its musical arrangements and its lyrical content, as noted here.  The musical arrangements are everything that audiences have come to expect from the band.  The riffs liken themselves to works from the like of Judas Priest, Firewind and Dragonforce at the same time.  The lyrical themes presented within the record’s two original songs will generate their own engagement among audiences as they are certainly thought provoking, as also noted here.  The one downside to the whole thing is that it is being marketed as an EP.  This is important to note because the “EP’s” title track is itself a single from the band’s 2019 album Fallen Idols.  Other than that one track, there is only one other original and then an extended take of the record’s title track.  Keeping all of this in mind, this record is really more a single with two extra tracks than an actual EP.  Even with that in mind, it is not enough to prevent a person from wanting to listen to this record.  It is just something to note, and taken into consideration with the record’s overall content, it proves itself to be a work that will appeal widely to hard rock and metal fans.  It will be available Friday.  According to a post on the band’s official Facebook page, the record’s physical copies are already sold out in pre-orders, so right now, only digital pre-orders for the record are available.  More information on Chaos Raining is available along with all of Lord’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.lord.net.au

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lordofficial

 

 

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Dragonforce Announces New Live U.S., European Dates

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Dragonforce announced a new slate of live dates this week.

The band announced on Monday, the dates for the upcoming North American leg of its tour.  The tour is in support of its most recent album Extreme Power Metal (2019).

The two week run is scheduled to launch March 5 in Phoenix, AZ and to run through March 21 in Brooklyn, NY, and will feature in performances in other cities, such as St. Louis, MO; Detroit, MI and Salt Lake City, UT.  Unleash the Archers and Visions of Atlantis will join Dragonforce for the tour.

Also joining the band for the run will be bassist Alicia Vigil (Vigil of War). Vigil’s addition to the band is just the latest following the departure of bassist Frederic Leclercq from the band in August. Damien Rainaud, who produced Extreme Power Metal handled bass duties for the band at its most recent shows, following the parting of ways between Leclercq and the band.

Vigil said in a recent interview, she was looking forward to joining Dragonforce for its upcoming run.

“So beyond stoked that Dragonforce chose me to be a part of this!,” she said.  “I can’t wait to travel the world and play these new cities with them, and be a part of their legacy!”

Following its upcoming North American run, Dragonforce will head back overseas for another European run starting March 24 in Odense, Denmark.  The tour is scheduled to run through July 18 in Balingen, Germany. Hammerfall is scheduled to join Dragonforce for select dates on the tour.

Vigil will also join Dragonforce for its European run.  Dragonforce founding member and guitarist Herman Li talked recently about her addition to the band for its upcoming run.

“Alicia was recommended to me by a number of musician friends in L.A.,” he said.  “She impressed me with her playing, her professionalism and her ability to learn the Dragonforce songs really quickly!  I’m excited to have her playing on this tour, and I think the fans will really like what she brings to the show.”

Dragonforce will stream its world tour live through Li’s official Twitch channel.  The band’s upcoming North American and European dates are noted below.

DragonForce USA Tour – Mission 2
w/ Unleash The Archers, Visions Of Atlantis
Tickets – https://dragonforce.com/shows
VIP – http://dragonforce.soundrink.com/

Mar. 5 – Club Red – Phoenix, AZ
Mar. 6 – The Regent – Los Angeles, CA
Mar. 8 – Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA
Mar. 10 – Metro Music Hall – Salt Lake City, UT
Mar. 11 – Oriental Theater – Denver, CO
Mar. 13 – Fine Line – Minneapolis, MN **
Mar. 14 – Red Flag – St. Louis, MO **
Mar. 15 – House of Blues – Chicago, IL
Mar. 17 – The Agora – Cleveland, OH
Mar. 18 – St. Andrews Hall – Detroit, MI
Mar. 19 – Roxian Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA
Mar. 20 – The Palladium – Worcester, MA
Mar. 21 – Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY
** = no Visions of Atlantis

DragonForce tour dates
Mar. 24 – Posten – Odense, Denmark +
Mar. 25 -Train – Arhus, Denmark +
Mar. 26 – Amager Bio – Copenhagen, Denmark +
Mar. 27 – Partille Arena – Partille, Sweden +
Mar. 28 – Annexet – Stockholm, Sweden +
May 16 – Pulp Summer Slam – Manila, Philippines
Jun. 26-27 – Rock am Härtsfeldsee – Dischingen, Germany
Jul. 2-4 – Rock Fest – Barcelona, Spain
Jul. 16-18 – Bang Your Head!!! – Balingen, Germany
+ = with Hammerfall

More information on the band’s upcoming live dates are available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://www.dragonforce.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dragonforce

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Dragonforce

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Devin Townsend’s ‘Empath’ Gives The Best Feeling For Audiences In This Year’s New Hard Rock/Metal Field

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

This year is one of the strongest in recent memory for metal masses around the world.  This year saw new releases — powerful new releases at that — from some of the most well-known and respected names in the metal community.  Slipknot’s new album We Are Not Your Kind is just one of those important new releases that the metal masses received this year.  Amon Amarth’s new album Berserker gave the masses just as much to appreciate, as did new albums from Dragonforce, Killswitch Engage and The Offering.

Between those records and so many others, it goes without saying that developing a list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums was anything but easy.  That’s especially the case considering the release early this year, of Devin Townsend’s new album Empath, Hyvmine’s new LP Retaliation and up-and-comers Alien Weaponry’s debut album Tu.  This critic took a long time trying to assemble this list.  It was not a chore taken lightly.  As with other lists from this critic, it features the Top 10 New Hard Rock/Metal albums as well as five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2019 Top 10 New Hard Rock/Metal Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW HARD ROCK/METAL ALBUMS

  1. Devin Townsend — Empath
  2. Slipknot — We Are Not Your Kind
  3. Amon Amarth — Berserker
  4. Overkill — The Wings of War
  5. The Offering — Home
  6. Bad Blood — Bad Blood
  7. Whitechapel — The Valley
  8. Hyvmine — Retaliation
  9. Dragonforce — Extreme Power Metal
  10. Of Mice & Men — EARTHANDSKY
  11. Dream Theater — Distance Over Time
  12. Killswitch Engage — Atonement
  13. Awake At Last — The Change
  14. Corroded — Bitter
  15. Alien Weaponry — Tu

 

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Dragonforce’s New LP Is An “Extreme”-ly Enjoyable New Offering

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Veteran power metal outfit Dragonforce returned with its latest full-length studio recording late this past September.  The group’s new album Extreme Power Metal – the band’s eighth album – comes almost three years after the release of its most recent album, Reaching Into Infinity (2017).  The 10-song, 52-minute record is a presentation of everything that makes power metal so great despite it being so cheesy.  The band embraced that cheese-factor completely here for the most part.  Though there was at least one serious moment late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Remembrance Day.’  For those who may be less familiar with history, Remembrance Day is the European equivalent to Veterans Day.  For all the American songs about Veterans Day and Memorial Day, this song gives its own take on one of the world’s most important moments in history, and definitely stands out in this record.  It is just one of the album’s most notable entries.  ‘Heart Demolition’ fully embraces that full-on cheese of 80s power metal but makes it even better, too.  It deserves its own share of attention.  ‘Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred Machine’ boasts its own positives along with the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s offerings.  When it is considered alongside those works, the whole of this album proves to be a work that Dragonforce’s fans will enjoy just as much as power metal fans in general.

Dragonforce’s  latest full-length studio recording Extreme Power Metal is an *ahem* “extreme”-ly enjoyable work from this veteran power metal outfit.  From the video-game inspired works ‘The Last Dragonborn’ and ‘In A Skyforged Dream’ to the Starship Troopers inspired ‘Troopers of the Stars’ to the wildly amped up cover of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and beyond, this record offers everything that makes power metal so delightfully cheesy yet enjoyable at the same time.  For all of the cheese already noted, the album does have at least one slightly more serious moment late in its run in the form of ‘Remembrance Day.’  The song is a moving tribute to those who have served and given the ultimate sacrifice.  As the title notes, it is centered on Remembrance Day, the European equivalent to America’s Veterans Day.  The song’s musical arrangement instantly lends itself to works from the likes of Manowar, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and other similar acts with its bagpipes, soaring guitars, cymbal accents and equally powerful vocals (especially in the choruses).  It is a moving work that easily stands out as one of this record’s most notable entries and will certainly move any listener emotionally thanks to that arrangement.  The arrangement is just part of what makes the song so moving.  Its lyrical content is just as powerful as its musical content.

Front man Marc Hudson sings in the song’s lead verse, “Fallen souls in fields afar/Eternal hearts afire/Rows and rows of endless ghosts/Their memories inspire/Dreams of glory/Dreams of war/A generation died/Through the trenches, hear their songs/And wear their badge with pride/Stand up and fight/March at first light/Into the great battle we ride/Onwards tonight/Wait for the strike/Brothers in arms we unite/Guardians of heaven/In the night sky together/Remembered forever/Through the centuries of time/Honor and glory/We salute you the fallen/United we stand/The hearts of great men/We’ll raise our flag high/For the heroes lost in time.”  Hudson continues in the song’s second verse, “Photographs of sons long gone/A dusty picture frame/Crosses stand on foreign lands/their memories never fade/Fields now green which once were scarred/A million warriors lay/Hear the stories gone untold/On this remembrance day.”  He adds in the song’s final verse, “For the King, for our Queen/For the glory of our great country/Over land, on the sea/For our homeland we fight/Fight to be free.”  This is a very well-written work and tribute to those who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War I.  Given, it is aimed mostly at the European forces who served during the war, but it leaves even American audiences thinking about their own ancestors who served alongside those British and other Allied forces who fought to keep the world free from tyranny.  It is a work that will certainly last just as long as the memory of those brave warriors, and is just one example of what makes this five-minute-plus opus such an important part of Extreme Power Metal’s whole.  ‘Heart Demolition’ is another of the album’s most noteworthy works.

‘Heart Demolition’ is a standard song about a broken relationships, but rather than just being the run-of-the-mill “oh woe is me” sort of song, the band has made this work into a positive work both musically and lyrically.  This song’s arrangement easily lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Stratovarius, with its full-on shredding, near warp speed drumming, and bombastic guitar solos and soaring vocals.  The energy in the song’s arrangement makes it a work that also gives it a certain 80s hair metal vibe that works just as well as the more power metal element in the composition.  The whole of the arrangement’s elements makes the work in whole its own standout opus that is sure to be another fan favorite.  Of course the song’s arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  As noted, this song is another familiar work that focuses on the issue of a broken relationship.  The catch is that the song doesn’t take the standard oh woe is me attitude that so many breakup songs take.  Rather, it takes a more positive note in this case.

Hudson sings in the song’s lead verse, “Sometimes I wonder/If love has a meaning/Feels like the sadness won’t end/Sometimes I wonder/Why do we try/We’re looking for answers in vain/Every step I’ve taken/Led me closer to the edge/And I’ve fallen, I’ve fallen/And there’s no way to return/Lost and mistreated/By your words and by your promises/The lies were ephemeral/But the truth won’t fade away/Live it up, live it up/And I know I’ll find the courage to be free again/The sun comes after rain/Live it up, live it up/The struggle has been real/But now I’ve got/I’ve gotta break these chains/Don’t wanna be another victim of love/No knife through my heart/Why don’t you let me go/Don’t wanna be another victim of love/I’ve done it times before/I won’t get fooled again, and again.”  This is pretty much outright.  This is someone who has gone through a lot of negative emotions in terms of dealing with past relationships, but still sees the positive and has moved beyond those lesser times.  Hudson continues in the song’s second verse, “How many hours have we both wasted/Our life was written in sand/We took our chances, but love turned into hate/Nothing left but anger and pain/Our story turned to poison and we just drank it all/It was burning down our throat/and flowing through our veins/The passion, the fury/Nothing was like it was meant to be/The truth is hard to face/But I’m done looking away.”  From here, he and his band mates return to the song’s chorus, with its more optimistic lyrics before finishing things off just as optimistically in the song’s third and final verse, singing, “And I know it will be fine/And I know that time will heal it all/And one day you will believe again/’Cause I know/Yes, I know/So for now, let it go.”  Again, here we have someone who is moving past the trials and tribulations of that past, broken relationship and who is looking to the future rather than the past.  Given, it’s hardly the first time that any act has ever crafted a song that is directed in a more positive direction, in regards to songs about broken relationships.  That aside, any time any act opts to take that route instead of the standard oh woe is me route, it is something welcome, and it is just as welcome here as from any other act.  The song’s musical arrangement helps to heighten that feeling.  All things considered, they make the song in whole stand firmly on its own merits, and in turn show even more why it is such a strong addition to the record.  Even as positive as the song is, it is just one more of the examples of what makes Extreme Power Metal another strong effort from one of the top acts in the power metal realm.  ‘Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred Machine’ boasts its own positives.

‘Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred Machine’ is full-on power shred metal.  From the high-speed drumming to the familiar power chords and general riffing and operatic vocals, it is everything that audiences have come to expect from Dragonforce throughout the course of the band’s existence.  To that end, little else needs to be said of this arrangement.  Rather the focus should be more here on the song’s lyrical content.

Lyrically speaking, this song is full on science fiction.  There are references here to Star Trek (mention of the neutral zone and where no man has gone before) and even the general search for a new world on which to live.  Hudson sings in the song’s lead verse, “Future worlds of magic and mystery/Our eternal path to search/And find out new horizons/Far and wide, to the end of the galaxy/Onwards through time/Striving to find/Answers to all of our dreams/Finding the path through the universe/Under the sign of our true star fleet/A brave new world/A brand new hope/A shining star so far from home/A brighter place/The terra prime/under power of cosmic light/here we stand alone at the frontier/the future of mankind/A brave new world/A brand new hope/A shining star to save our souls tonight.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Realms of fear when our two worlds collide/Someone help us now to find our way out of this black hole/Zero hour to defend what we left behind/Armageddon’s near, but still we answer the call/Lost an alone in the neutral zone/Fear of the doomsday machine/Set the path through the stratosphere/Blazing like fire through the galaxy.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Lost in the abyss/Out here in the void/The last solar flare/A system destroyed/By the light of the dark inferno/our starship will burn/Where no man has gone before us/And none shall return.”  One could argue that there are references here to Disney’s classic 1979 science fiction flick Black Hole considering the black hole mention, and to Paramount Pictures’ 1951 sci-fi epic When Worlds Collide with the mention of “Realms of fear when two worlds collide.”  Regardless of whether the song is referencing one sci-fi work or many, the fact of the matter remains that this is just a fun, full-on sci-fi work that is sure to entertain the masses.  It will entertain just as much as the band’s tributes to the modern b-flick Starship Troopers, the video game-inspired works ‘The Last Dragonborn’ and ‘In A Skyforged and the band’s take on Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On.’  Between those songs, the work noted here and the rest of the songs featured in this album, it is clear that Dragonforce’s members are not taking themselves seriously by any means this time out, and are just having fun.  That fun translates well here, and leads to audiences having just as much fun listening to the record from start to end.  In the end, listeners will agree that Extreme Power Metal is just as enjoyable a record from Dragonforce as any of the band’s previous works.

Dragonforce’s latest full-length studio album is yet another enjoyable offering from the veteran power metal outfit.  That is proven throughout the record, with its mix of familiar power metal arrangements and through its equally fun lyrical themes.  From songs that were inspired by video games, to songs inspired by science fiction literature and cinema to a wildly entertaining, amped up take on an annoying romance song from an equally annoying singer (Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’) to the seemingly more serious note of ‘Razorblade Meltdown’ and the more positive post breakup song that is ‘Heart Demolition’ and the moving military tribute of ‘Remembrance Day’ and more, the album offers listeners plenty to appreciate throughout its almost hourlong run time.  That is both in terms of the songs’ musical and lyrical content.  Keeping that in mind, the album proves overall, to be an “extreme”-ly enjoyable new offering from Dragonforce.  The band wrapped the UK leg of its tour in support of Extreme Power Metal this week.  It will launch the next leg of its tour across Europe in February.  More information on the band’s upcoming live dates are available online 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.  

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.

‘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

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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‘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

 

 

 

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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

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