‘Earthquake’ Is A Good First Impression For Hyvmine

Courtesy: Seek and Strike Records

The first impression is the most important that ca be made in any situation. From getting that coveted job to winning over a love interest to winning over audiences, that first impression is the best chance that one has to success in so many avenues. Taking this into consideration, it can be said that up-and-coming hard rock outfit Hyvmine has made a good first impression with its debut album Earthquake. Released Jan. 19 via independent label Seek & Strike Records (also home to Between The Buried and Me, Body Count, Gus G. and others), this first effort from Hyvmine is certain to reach a wide array of audiences. That is proven in part through the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The album’s sequencing also helps to prove its ability to reach audiences, and will be discussed later. The record’s production is also important to its ability to reach listeners and will also be discussed later. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Earthquake‘s overall presentation. All things considered, the noted elements make Earthquake a record that while not earth-shaking, is still a good first impression for Hyvmine.

Hard rock outfit Hyvmine’s debut album Earthquake is a work that, as noted is not necessarily an earth-shaking record. It is however, a good first impression for the up-and-coming hard rock outfit. That statement is supported in part through the musical arrangements that are exhibited throughout the course of the album’s nine-song, 42-minute body. right off the top, audiences are treated to an arrangement in ‘Shift’ that boasts elements of Alter Bridge and Dream Theater. Yes, that’s quite the duality, but somehow front man Al Joseph and his band mates make that pairing of influences work. The slow build from the song’s opening piano line into the more contemplative moments that make up the early portion of the song builds a strong foundation for the song. The eventual growth from that vibe to the more power packed portions of the song shows definite thought put into the arrangement, and in turn is sure to keep listeners engaged. the same can be said of the joining those Alter Bridge and Dream Theater influences within those harder-edged moments. Joseph’s own vocal delivery boasts an eerie similarity to that of Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy, too, adding even more interest to the arrangement. Add in the song’s lyrical content, which seems to present the message of living life to the fullest, and audiences get an interesting first effort here. It is of course only one song that shows the importance of the album’s arrangements to its whole. The post-grunge vibe of ‘Fire Escape’ conjures thoughts of Korn, Staind and so many aggro-rock bands that rose to fame in the late 90s and early 2000s while ‘Mirror Master’ brings about thoughts of Sevendust and The Veer Union. The arrangement at the center of the album’s title track, which also comes virtually dead center of the album, will reach fans of Creed and other similar acts. Considering the diversity displayed throughout these songs and that of the songs not noted here, it becomes fully clear why that diversity helps to make this record a good first impression for this record. It shows the band’s ability to cover any type of rock, giving in itself reason for audiences to give it at least one listen. It is just one of the album’s most important elements. Staying on the same note as the songs, their sequencing proves just as important to discuss as their arrangements.

Earthquake‘s sequencing is important to note because as much as the songs’ arrangements do for the record’s presentation, if they had been poorly placed, they would have been completely useless. Luckily though, that didn’t happen. Again, noting the gentle, contemplative piano run at the start of the album’s opener and the manner in which it builds into the bigger picture of the song, it is just the first strong salvo from the band. The transition from that song’s raucous finale to the more controlled yet heavy riffs of ‘Mirror Master’ was a smooth and smart move. It keeps the heavy without being too stark of a change. The heavy continues into the album’s third track with the more up-tempo ‘Shogun,’ which also boasts a solo that would make John Petrucci proud. The heavy still doesn’t end there. From there, the album transitions into a rather Creed-esque radio ready rocker in ‘All of Creation’ before the album finally pulls back in ‘Earthquake.’ What’s really interesting here is that while it does finally pull back, that pull back is only partial as it starts off soft before picking back up a little bit in what is overall yet another Creed style work. ‘Fire Escape,’ the start of the album’s final trio of songs, brings the heavy back in full force before moving in a slightly more mainstream direction again ‘ Elysium.’ ‘Great Divide,’ the album’s penultimate track, gives listeners one last dose of heavy before closing out the record in another Creed-esque rocker in ‘Cliffhanger.’ Considering the direction that the album takes from beginning to end with its energies, it can be said after going through the whole of the 43-minute run time that the album’s energy stays relatively stable. That applies from song to song and even within the songs themselves. The stability of the energies within the songs and between songs creates a listening experience that even more certifies listeners’ engagement. When that insurance is considered along with the insurance generated through the songs’ very arrangements, that whole shows even more why Earthquake, while again not earth-shaking, is still a good first impression from Hyvmine. It is still not the last of the elements that makes this record a respectable start for the band. Its overall production is also worth noting.

The album’s production is important to note in examining Earthquake because while it does largely impress, there are at least a couple of problem points. ‘Shogun’ is one of those problem points. There are moments throughout the song when front man Al Joseph’s vocals are slightly washed out by the song’s musical elements. This means that interpretation of what he is singing becomes difficult without a lyrics sheet. There also seems to be a bit of a balance issue between Joseph’s vocals and the song’s musical elements here, too. This is, of course, just this critic’s own take. Others might hear it differently. The problem that this critic has caught here is that again, the music seems to slightly overpower Joseph’s vocals. That takes away at least something from the enjoyment here. The vocals in ‘Elysium”s chorus seem to bleed together a little with its musical side, too. Again, this is just this critic’s interpretation. Other than those directly noted elements, the album’s production proves relatively positive throughout. Keeping this in mind, it proves — despite the few problematic balance issues — to be relatively stable from beginning to end. When that is considered alongside the stability in the album’s sequencing and the variety of the album’s musical arrangements, the whole of these elements shows in full why Earthquake is a good first impression for Hyvmine.

Hyvmine’s debut album Earthquake is a good first impression for the band. While it may not be an earth-shaking start for the band, it is still respectable. That is thanks in part to the variety exhibited in the album’s musical arrangements. From Dream Theater to Korn to Creed and points even in-between, the album’s arrangements are certain to reach a variety of audiences. The album’s sequencing keeps its energy relatively stable from beginning to end. This is proven through the song transitions and even within the songs themselves. The album’s overall production is relatively stable, too, strengthening its presentation even more. Each element is important in its own right to the album’s whole. All things considered, they make Earthquake a good first impression from Hyvmine that, while it might not have everyone thinking the same, will impress plenty of audiences. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Hyvmine is available online now at:

Website: http://seekandstrike.com/artists/hyvmine

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hyvmineband

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Dream Theater Announces New Record Deal

Photo Credit: Mark Maryanovich

Dream Theater is officially calling a new label home.

The band announced Monday that it had signed a new contract with Sony Music. Specifics of the deal were not announced, but it is known that the band’s next album, its 14th, will be released via InsideOut Music, which is Sony Music’s progressive music imprint. InsideOut Music is also part of the Century Media Label Group, a division of Sony Music.

The band released a statement about the deal expressing the excitement of each member about the deal. The statement cited InsideOut Music Label Head/A&R Thomas Waber’s support of the band as a key motivation for signing the new deal.

“We are all really excited about signing a brand new record deal with InsideOut/Sony!,” the band members said in the statement. “We’ve known Thomas Waber for a very long time and it’s great to finally get a chance to work together. Thomas’ enthusiasm, energy, music industry expertise and positive outlook towards the future of DT’s recording career has been incredible to witness, and we have no doubt that being part of the InsideOut/Sony family will be an amazing creative and professional experience for us all!”

Waber shared the band’s excitement as he discussed the deal.

“This is what the term ‘coming full circle’ was invented for,” Waber said. “We’ve followed the band closely ever since they started touring in Europe in 1993, and there has been a lot of friendship and history between DT and us for close to 25 years. Stepping up to the plate to join them for this next important chapter in their career feels like the natural and right thing to do. I can’t wait to get started!”

Sony Music Germany CFO Philip von Esebeck agreed.

“This is an important signing in our goal to support and grow the InsideOut Music label as a brand, and we are very excited at Sony Music to welcome Dream Theater to our roster of top-tier artists!”

Before joining InsideOut Music/Sony Music, Dream Theater released its past four albums via Roadrunner Records. The band has also released albums via Atlantic Records, Elektra Records, ATCO and East West America.

More information on Dream Theater’s new deal is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Website: http://www.dreamtheater.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dreamtheaternet

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Metal Purists Will Appreciate UDR Music’s Wacken 2015 Recording

Courtesy: UDR Music

Courtesy: UDR Music

The Wacken Open Air Festival is one of the most renowned hard rock concert festivals if the music industry.  The festival started 26 years ago in the city after which it is named.  Late this summer UDR Music celebrated the festivals 25th anniversary – marked in 2015 – with the release of the festival’s 25th anniversary recording.  Considering that the recording presents the show lineup from the festival’s 25th anniversary, its title is a little bit misleading.  That aside, it is still an enjoyable experience for any purist member of the metal nation worldwide.  That is due in no small part to the lineup presented in the recording.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bands’ performances are just as important to note in the recording’s presentation as is the recording’s presented lineup.  That will be discussed later.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available rounds out the most important of the recording’s elements.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the recording’s presentation.  All things considered, Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of this year’s top new overall live recordings.

Live at Wacken 2015 – ­26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of 2016’s top new overall live recordings.  It is hardly the first live recording that the festival’s organizers have ever released.  Even with that in mind, it is still an enjoyable recording for the festival’s fans and for the purist metal legions around the world.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s featured performer list.  A total of 107 bands performed on Wacken 2015 between the Bullhead City Circus, Party Stage and double main stage.  It goes without saying that considering that mass of metal, there’s no way that UDR or the fesitval’s organizers could have possibly featured every one of those bands.  Regardless, the featured performer list included in this recording is still impressive in its own right.  That list includes the likes of Judas Priest, Danko Jones, Uli Jon Roth, In Flames, Annihilator and so many others.  Simply put, the perfomer list featured in this recording pulls from a number of metal’s sub genres and from so many eras of metal’s history.  It goes to show the respect that the festival’s organizers and fans have for metal, its history and culture.  Sure, it would have been nice to have Dream Theater included in the featured performer list, or maybe Hellyeah, or even Prong (yes, even Prong performed at Wacken 2015).  But the performer list included in this recording is still impressive in its own right in the end.  Considering this, it should be clear why it is such an important piece of the recording’s presentation.  It is just one of the important elements to note.  The featured acts’ stage presence in their performances is just as important to note here as the acts themselves.

The acts that are featured in UDR Music’s new Wacken Open Air Festival recording are important in their own right to the recording’s overall presentation.  That is because while hardly every one of the bands that performed at the festival, they represent a wide swatch of the metal community and its history.  That means the recording will reach just as wide of an audience.  While the recording’s featured performer list is clearly an important piece of the recording’s presentation, it is hardly the recording’s only important element.  The bands’ stage presence in their performances plays an important part in the recording’s presentation, too.  Rob Halford and company prove the importance of the bands’ performances right from the recording’s outset.  They take the stage and own it with ease.  Halford is at the top of his game both in terms of his vocal talent and his very presence.  Glenn Tipton is just as enjoyable to take in as he works his way through the band’s performance of ‘Painkiller.  On another note, the members of Running Wild are just as impressive as they work through the high-octane ‘Under The Jolly Roger.’  Skindred’s performance of ‘Proceed With Caution’ will have home audiences on their feet just as easily as it did the audience in attendance of the festival.  That is because of the fire and energy exuded by the band throughout its performance.  It is just one more example of the importance of the bands’ performance to the festival recording’s presentation.  One could just as easily cite the performances from My Dying Bride, In Flames, and Death Angel as proof of that importance, too.  All things considered, it is safe to say that every single performance featured in this recording will keep home audiences just as entertained and engaged as the audiences that got to enjoy the festival in person.  Even with all of this in mind, the bands’ performances still are not the last element to note in examining this recording.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available are just as important to note as the previously discussed elements.

The bands that were featured in Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell and their performances are both key elements in examining the festival’s recording.  The featured performer list presents the past, present and future of metal while also presenting a solid cross-section proving what has made the festival so respected for now 26 years.  The featured bands’ performances are so important to note because they will keep home audiences just as entertained and engaged as the audiences who had the honor of experiencing the festival in person.  While both elements are clearly important both alone and collectively to the recording’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available are just as important to note as the previously noted elements.  Audiences will be happy to know that the recording has been made available on separate 2 DVD/2 CD and 2 BD/2 CD combo pack.  The DVD set averages approximately $22 and the BD set $23.  Considering that, the various platforms and their prices are relatively affordable for audiences.  The only downside to the sets is that their set lists don’t exactly match.  Not every song featured in the recording’s DVD and BD presentation is included in the recording’s CD platform.  To that end, it is the recording’s only major negative, which is actually a good thing.  That means that the recording’s varied platforms and other discussed elements more than make up for that one negative, as unavoidable as it is to note.  All things considered, Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell proves in the bigger picture to be one of 2016’s top new live recordings as well as one of the year’s top new live DVD/BDs and CDs.  It is available now in stores and online.

Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of 2016’s top new live recordings.  That is the case even considering that it does have at least one unavoidable negative.  The recording’s featured performer list and the featured acts’ performances partner with the varied platforms on which the recording has been made available to make the recording an enjoyable experience for any purist member of the metal nation worldwide.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from UDR Music is available online now at:




Website: http://www.udr-music.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/udrmusic




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Coma Ecliptic Is Yet Another Impressive Effort From One Of Prog-Metal’s Leaders

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Between The Buried and Me is one of the top names in the progressive music community today and more specifically the prog-rock and metal communities. Ever since its formation in 2000, the North Carolina-based band has remained well under the mainstream radar but still managed to consistently build its fan base. It has built that fan base by consistently re-inventing itself from one album to the next over the course of its past seven albums. Now with the release of its eighth full-length studio recording Coma Ecliptic, released this summer, the band has re-invented itself yet again and once more proven why it has continued to build its fan base and reputation within the rock and metal realms. Much like its previous pairing of recordings released via Metal Blade Records–The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues (EP–2011) and The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012)–the band’s latest effort is another concept record. While technically being only the band’s second full-length concept record, it is still completely unlike The Parallax and its “sequel” and any of the band’s other previous offerings. This applies both in terms of the album’s musical and lyrical content. Both elements are key to the album’s overall listening experience. Bringing everything full circle here is the album’s production and final mix. The work of those behind the boards resulted in an album that captures every nuance of the band members’ work from beginning to end. All things considered, Coma Ecliptic proves to be yet another impressive addition to BTBAM’s already impressive body of work and another work deserving of its own spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Between The Buried and Me’s latest full-length studio effort is one of the best of this year’s crop of new hard rock and metal offerings. It is also one more example of why the North Carolina-based prog-metal act is one of the leading names within the prog-metal and metal communities today. The main reason that it proves to be such an impressive record is its lyrical content. Long-time fans will be pleased to know that with this record, the band didn’t just go and make another album along the lines of its 2011 EP The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues and its 2012 follow-up The Parallax II: Future Sequence. Rather the band opted for something completely different. The concept behind this record is the story of a man who puts himself intentionally into a coma in order to escape a world with which he has become rather disenfranchised. The result of the decision is that the unnamed subject finds that he has lived many times before. As he travels through these past lives, he is faced with more than one tough choice along the way and a result that is just as interesting as the story itself. The premise itself is not the first time that a prog-rock or prog-metal band has covered such a topic. Audiences can find related topics in albums from Dream Theater (Metropolis 2000) and Ayreon (The Theory of Everything) just to name a couple examples. The concepts presented in those albums are similar to the one presented here but are still separate from that presented in Coma Ecliptic. It is a concept that is certain to really have fans and audiences in general thinking and talking on so many levels. Considering that, Coma Ecliptic’s lyrical content forms a solid foundation on which the rest of its positives sit solidly, making in turn an album that is one of the best of the year’s prog-metal offerings and hard rock and metal offerings in whole.

The concept behind BTBAM’s latest full-length effort does plenty to make the record a great listen for fans and audiences in general. It does so much in fact that it alone is more than enough reason for any critic to add Coma Ecliptic to their list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums. It is just one part of what makes the album such a success. The album’s musical makeup plays just as much of a role in its success as its lyrical content. Just as the band switched things up and re-invented itself lyrically so did it re-invent itself musically, too. That is because there is no way that the sound used as the backing for the band’s Parallax records could have possibly worked with this record. Most notable of the sound presented throughout this record is that front man Tommy Rogers’ death metal growls are used far less here than in the band’s previous records. There are more clean vocals utilized from start to finish than in any of the band’s previous offerings. That is not necessarily a bad thing. That is because it allows Rogers to show even more the range of his vocal abilities. Just as interesting to note about the record’s sound is its noticeable similarity to the work of Dream Theater. More specifically, one can hear hints of the band’s 2007 record Systematic Chaos at points throughout this record. The addition of the electronic sound exhibited in ‘Dim Ignition’ adds even more variety, and in turn interest, to the album. It sounds like something that one might expect from Daft Punk with its keyboards. And that’s not a bad thing, either. As a matter of fact, the mysterious tone established through this sound and the song’s musical content, which seems to hint that the album’s subject is experiencing one of his past lives, paint a vivid picture that will definitely keep listeners engaged and thinking. It is just one of so many examples of how the evolution of BTBAM’s sound makes the album in whole such an intriguing and enjoyable new record. Together with its overall lyrical content, Coma Ecliptic shows even more why it is one of the best of this year’s crop of new hard rock and metal albums.

The musical and lyrical content put on display throughout the course of Coma Ecliptic does quite a bit to prove just how impressive BATBAM’s new record is. For all of the positives exhibited through the record’s musical and lyrical content, neither would be of any consequence without solid production. Luckily, that producer Jamie King’s work behind the glass resulted in an album that expertly balanced every tiny nuance of the album throughout the course of its sixty-eight minute run time. The fact that King has worked with the band on a significant portion of its album is the most likely reason that the production values were so impressive on this latest effort. He and the band members (even with the band’s lineup changes through the years) have gotten to know one another well enough that they each know what the other thinks will work best in any given situation. Thus, he was able to pinpoint exactly where certain riffs and fills should go or where Rogers should rely more on one vocal style versus another or even where emphasis should be placed on one note or another. Through it all, the partnership between King and the band resulted in an album that maintains BTBAM’s signature feel without rehashing the sound of the band’s previous albums. That familiarity and originality coupled with the album’s overall original concept comes together to once more show why Coma Ecliptic is another impressive offering from BTBAM and another of this year’s best hard rock and metal albums.

Between the Buried and Me’s latest full-length studio recording Coma Ecliptic is one of the band’s best works to date. The original story that makes up the body of the record and its equally creative sound work in tandem to make it a record that both the band’s long-time fans and audiences in general will enjoy and appreciate in so many ways. The work of the band’s long-time friend and producer Jamie King on this latest effort rounds out the record’s positive. His familiarity and friendship with the band (and vice versa) results in an album that is expertly balanced from beginning to end with all the right emphasis placed in all the right spots while other spots are reserved just enough to have the utmost emotional impact right to the album’s end. All things considered, Coma Ecliptic will do anything but put listeners into a coma. Rather, it is an album that will keep listeners fully engaged right to the album’s end and will even have them talking on so many levels even after its finale. Having such a wide impact, it proves once and for all why it is yet another impressive effort from one of the leading names in the prog-metal and metal communities today, and why it is also one of the best of this year’s crop of new hard rock and metal albums. Coma Ecliptic is available now in stores and online and BTBAM is currently taking some much-needed and well deserved time off before hitting the road again next month in its continued support of Coma Ecliptic. The next leg of the band’s tour includes another stop in its home state on Thursday, December 17th. The full schedule for the next leg of the band’s tour is available online now along with all of the latest news from the band at:

Website: http://www.betweentheburiedandme.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BTBAMofficial

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.

STS Creates Another Musical Masterpiece In Its Fifth Full-Length Album

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Veteran prog-rock outfit Scale The Summit released its latest album last Friday. The album, simply (and aptly) titled V is the band’s fifth full-length studio effort since its formation roughly ten years ago in Houston, Texas and its fifth in the eight years since the release of its 2007 debut album Monument. That is impressive considering that it is nearly double what most bands manage to churn out in that amount of time. Most bands typically can get out three albums over ten years if they’re lucky considering touring schedules for each album. STS has proven over the course of its eleven years together to obviously be anything but one of those bands having released a new album every two years since the release of its 2007 debut. That’s not the only way in which the band has proven to be anything but standard. It has also shown that in regards to the overall content of each of its previous recordings. None of the band’s previous four albums have sounded like the other. And even within themselves, none of said records have stuck to just one style of rock, either. They encompass both the prog-rock realm and that of prog-metal. There are even some modern jazz influences in each of the band’s compositions as well as other influences. That is just as much the case in V as in the band’s previous records. That variety will keep listeners just as engaged throughout the course of this record as its previous offerings. And for those that might be less familiar with the band’s body of work it is just as effective as a first impression. Keeping all of this in mind, V shows in full to be yet another impressive effort from STS as well as yet another candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s best new rock record and one of the year’s best new hard/rock albums. Such success means it is also just as easy of a candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s best new albums overall.

Scale The Summit has proven time and again to be one of the best bands in the prog-rock and prog-metal community over the course of its now eleven years together. That is because it has made a concerted effort to be different from both others within the world of progressive music and music in whole. That effort has paid off yet again on the band’s fifth full-length studio recording. Simply (and aptly) titled V the album boasts ten more instrumental tracks that longtime fans will enjoy just as much as those that might be new to the band’s body of work. That is made clear right from the album’s opener ‘The Winged Bull.’ This four minute-plus opus is one more example of why STS has so often been compared to the likes of Dream Theater and other well-known names within the prog-rock and prog-metal community. The dual-guitar attack of Chris Letchford and Travis Levrier coupled with Mark Mitchell’s work on the bass creates a sense of controlled chaos–counterpoint if one will. As much is going on just between the trio it is obvious that quite a bit of thought went into each part. That is especially obvious as Mitchell complements both drummer J.C. Bryant and his fellow guitarists. Speaking of Bryant, his ability to keep time while handling the rather difficult polyrhythmic patterns throughout is just as impressive here. The end result of all four musicians’ talents together is a song that comes across as one part Dream Theater and one part Meshuggah. It is a song that was definitely the perfect choice to open this album and easily one of the album’s best moments. That says plenty considering just how much there is to say to the positive of all ten of this album’s impressive compositions.

‘The Winged Bull’ is a solid, impressive opener for STS’ latest full-length studio recording. That is because of the talent exhibited by each of the band’s members by themselves and as a collective unit. The effect of the band’s collective talents is a song that sounds like controlled chaos in the best possible manner and that conjures thoughts of Dream Theater and Meshuggah over the course of its nearly four and a half-minute run time. While it is in its own right an impressive part of the album’s whole, it is of course just one example of what makes the band’s latest offering such an impressive record. ‘Oort Cloud,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is yet another example of what makes V such an impressive effort from a band that is part of the future of prog-rock and prog-metal. That is because it is one of those pieces that puts on display the band’s modern jazz influences, as noted earlier. The song opens with a decidedly difficult riff from bassist Mark Mitchell. It’s not some speed metal riff or anything of that sort. Rather it’s the type of lick that conjures thoughts of legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius. Michell executes that opening with the utmost expertise and continues to hold his own as the song progresses through its roughly five and a half-minute run time, too. His are not the only talents worth noting in this song. Drummer J.C. Bryant joins Mitchell as the song’s other central musician. Bryant shows just as much talent here as at any point throughout the album as it requires far more control being that it is not nearly as intense as those songs.

Both ‘The Winged Bull’ and ‘Oort Cloud’ are in their own right impressive additions to the whole of V. That is because both songs show in their own way the diversity of the band members’ talents and influences. They show once more that despite its label as a prog-metal band, it is obviously so much more than that. They are just two ways in which the band exhibits that diversity and diversity of talent in this record. ‘Kestrel,’ which also comes later in the record’s run, is one more example of the reach of the band members’ talents and in turn the diversity of the record’s sound. It is a heavy song. There is no denying that. However, what is truly interesting here is that for all of its heaviness, it is still is not just one of those adrenaline-fueled, thousand mile-per-hour pieces that allowed the band to just ground and pound for lack of better worked. Rather it is a piece that obviously required a certain amount of attention because of its changing time signatures. It is a piece that built right from its opening bars until its abrupt but solid ending. It requires audiences to really listen to the song in whole to appreciate its depth. In appreciating that depth, listeners will agree that said depth makes clear why ‘Kestrel’ is one more of V’s highest points. Together with ‘The Winged Bull’ and ‘Oort Cloud’ all three songs present in full clarity why V is yet another impressive recording from STS and why it is a triple threat of an offering from one of the leaders of progressive music’s next generation.

Scale The Summit is one of the leading acts in progressive music’s next generation. That has already been made clear through the band’s first four records. Its latest full-length studio effort V strengthens that argument even more. That is because the ten tracks that make up the body of the record stand out from the compositions included in the band’s previous records and from each other within the course of this album. All three of the songs noted here are each prime examples of just how much the record’s songs stand out. That is not to discount any of the album’s other songs either. All ten tracks could be used as examples of the record’s solidity. That taken into consideration V shows itself to be a triple threat of a record. It is a record that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new rock records, best new hard rock/metal albums and in turn the year’s best new albums overall. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct via STS’ official website at http://www.scalethesummit.com and its official online store at http://www.scalethesummitstore.com. More information on V is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://www.scalethesummit.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/scalethesummit

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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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Independent Indian Prog-Metal Band’s New Single Is A Deeply Compelling Work

Courtesy:  Symphony Novel

Courtesy: Symphony Novel

India-based progressive metal band Symphony Novel recently debuted its latest single.  ‘Ethereal Ash,’ the band’s latest single is a piece that is unlike the works crafted by most other bands of its ilk.  Its mix of traditional Indian musical styling and heavier, progressive metal makes for a song that defies the standards of progressive metal itself.  The song’s rather thought provoking lyrics set against that hybrid musical side makes the song even more intriguing for anyone looking for something that will actually make audiences stop for once and take real notice.  The song’s companion video adds even more depth, making for even more interest among audiences.  Together with the song’s lyrical and musical side, it serves to make ‘Ethereal Ash’ a song that everyone should hear at least once.

One of the most common practices that many American rock bands use in their records is incorporating a Middle Eastern sound into its music.  It’s something that’s used all too often in the hard rock world.  Save for indie rock band Boy Hits Car, few other bands today have really utilized Indian music in their records.  So hearing a band from India actually turning the tables and utilizing more Western elements into its own sound to create this song is actually relatively original.  That hybrid sound is the core of what makes ‘Ethereal Ash’ so intriguing.  The dual guitar attack of Vivek Khati and Rachit Sachdeva conjures thoughts of Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s own work.  And the harmonies created by Gauri Ayeer and Suvarna Tiwari’s dual vocals are so haunting to say the very least.  There is so much power in the subtle manner in which they carry their parts.  The addition of a cello line to the song adds even more depth to the song’s musical side that must be heard to be fully appreciated.  As subtle as it is, this part combined with the heavier elements of the song’s musical side adds so much emotional depth to the song.  ‘Etheral Ash’s’ musical side is by itself an impressive part of the whole song.  The reality of the matter is that if the song were to have only its musical side to boast, it would still be just as interesting as it is with its lyrical side.  Speaking of the song’s lyrical side, the lyrics are one more element of ‘Ethereal Ash’ that makes it such an interesting work.

The musical side of ‘Etheral Ash’ by itself makes this latest single from Symphony Novel worth more than just one listen.  It makes the song one that anyone looking for something truly original should hear.  The lyrical side of ‘Ethereal Ash’ takes the song’s musical side and adds even more depth to the song.  The band explains that the song’s lyrical content is rather socially charged.  It centers on mankind’s mistreatment of the Earth, and the potential outcome of mankind’s mistreatment.  Ayeer and Tiwari sing in the song’s opening verse, “Rain falls again/Unfurls wild color/The earth smirks insane/Carpets the stain of sorrow/New wings span everywhere/Embrace the veil of destiny.”  The band urges a warning in the song’s verse with Ayeer and Tiwari singing, “Heavens are clear now/But it wouldn’t last forever/Winds stay sealed in a jar/Away from all the torture/Silence kills me now/Leaves a trail of bleeding tears/From the pages of a story foretold/Epiphany.”  Sachveda notes of these words that they are meant metaphorically, saying that mankind has done such damage to Earth that the winds themselves want to be put in a jar away from all of the bad things humans have done to the planet.  He goes on to note that the lines regarding all of this environmental destruction were foretold.  That likely isn’t necessarily a reference to Nostradamus but to other “prophecies.”  Things only get more dire in the song’s second verse with Ayeer and Tiwari singing of crashing waves (tsunamis) and other signs of the prophecy in question.  Sachveda notes that in writing this line, he was thinking of all of the natural disasters that have been ravaging the Earth in recent years, thus that verse was written.  It’s a foreboding warning, true.  But it is also a very powerful statement, too.  It was not meant to be preachy, but rather to get people to sit up and take notice of what humans have done to the world.  He wanted to get people to consider the ramifications of the damage being done to the Earth without being preachy but rather more poetic.  The good news is that said goal was attained and done expertly, too.  It really doesn’t come across as just another nihilistic downer of a song.  But it definitely does hit hard when taking those lyrics into consideration.  Taking also into consideration such hard-hitting lyrics next to the song’s deeply emotional musical side, ‘Ethereal Ash’ becomes an even more powerful piece for audiences to take in.

The combination of ‘Ethereal Ash’s’ musical and lyrical sides makes this song a hard hitting work.  They combine to make a song that is just as strong as anything released by Symphony Novel’s more well-known prog-rock counterparts both stateside and overseas.  Given the chance, ‘Ethereal Ash’ could make Symphony Novel one of the next big names in prog-metal and even world music.  Thankfully, the band has increased its chances of the song being heard around the world as it has posted the song’s companion video online via YouTube.  Audiences can view the video online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqRPUvJkPqI.  The video incorporates that element of a prophecy of sorts to add even more depth to the song.  It presents right off the top, a document that is surrounded by candles in an otherwise dark room.  That same document comes into play throughout the course of the song, with the song’s lyrics fading in and out.  This is mixed in with shots of the band recoding the song in the studio.  It heightens the song’s emotional impact even more when given full attention.  That added emotion coupled with the combination of the song’s musical and lyrical sides prove even more why ‘Ethereal Ash’ is the song that could help Symphony Novel become one of the next big names in the realm of prog-metal.

‘Ethereal Ash’ is Symphony Novel’s latest single.  The band’s debut album ARIA is available online now via Amazon, CDBaby, and other online retailers.  More information on that album and all of the latest news from Symphony Novel is available online at:

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SymphonyNovel

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.