Dream Theater Fans Will Find Band’s Latest Live Recording More Than A “Distant Memory”

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

As 2020 nears its end, few, if any, bands are announcing any live performance plans.  There are many festivals whose dates are tentatively rescheduled for 2021, but even right now, those dates are just tentative.  That means that there is still just as much need for live recordings as ever as we head into the end of this year and the start of the New Year.  Enter veteran prog-metal band Dream Theater and its latest live recording Distant Memories: Live in London.  Released Friday through InsideOut Music, the band’s ninth live recording offers audiences a set list and performance thereof that is certain to engage and entertain listeners.  It will be discussed shortly.  While the set list does its own share to engage and entertain audiences, its audio production does pose something of a concern.  This will be discussed a little later.  Making up for the concern raised by the concert’s audio production is the video production.  It rounds out the recording’s most important elements and will be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Distant Memories: Live in London’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the concert worth experiencing at least occasionally. 

Dream Theater’s latest live recording Distant Memories: Live in London is a presentation that the band’s longtime fans will find a mostly enjoyable concert experience.  That is proven in part through the recording’s set list.  The 21-song set list focuses specifically on two of the band’s albums, its most recent recording, Distance Over Time and its classic album Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory.  Along with those albums, the band also goes back to 2009 and the band’s album Black Clouds and Silver Linings.  Audiences get the band’s performance of Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory in whole here, as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of its release while five of the nine songs from Distance Over Time (more than half of its body) are also featured here. 

For those who do not know the band’s history, Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory was Dream Theater’s first-ever concept album, and a long-awaited record, too.  It is a record for which the band’s fans had until that point, pleaded ever since the band released its landmark 1992 album Images & Words, which featured ‘Metropolis Part 1.’  It was also the debut of the band’s current (and third) keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and a very heavy work, focusing on the concept of past life experiences.  Its story is unique to say the very least.  Not to give away too much for those who have not taken in that record, it does not have a happy ending.  How many musical acts past or present can say they have taken on such a concept for any album or even song?  Exactly. 

The inclusion of a song from Black Clouds and Silver Linings is interesting here, too.  That is because that record was the last on which now former drummer and Dream Theater founding member Mike Portnoy would take part.  He would go on to be replaced by current drummer Mike Mangini on the band’s next album, the aptly titled A Dramatic Turn of Events.  Simply put, between this one song and the featuring of the aforementioned album, audiences are presented with a work that was the first for one member and the last for another member.  Whether that contrast was intentional is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it’s there, so that adds even more interest to this set list.

Adding to the whole is of course that the band made certain to promote its latest album along with everything else.  That the group focused on a much material as it did here is the virtual icing on the cake here.  Of course, the band’s performance of the noted set list adds even more to the concert experience.  That early moment in which Jordan Rudess breaks away from his stationary position and puts on one of those portable, shoulder-strap keyboards, taking his moment to really get in the limelight is just one of so many highlights of the band’s performance.  Seeing his smile and taking in the energy of his performance will make audiences smile just as much.  The rest of the band members – John Myung (bass), John Petrucci (guitar), Mangini (drums), and James LaBrie (vocals) – were at ease throughout the concert, displaying such mastery of their instruments while putting their full talents on display.  Watching Petrucci rip his way through the solos is just as enjoyable.  His arms and hands barely move, yet the riffs (solos included) are just so heavy and intense.  Watching Myung meanwhile during the concert’s higher energy moments leaves full understanding of why he is nicknamed “the octopus.”  His fingers move like an octopus’ tentacles as he plucks the strings of his bass.  His left hand moves just as fluidly across the strings as he lays down the harmonies in each song.  All the while, his facial gestures never change, even when his hair is not covering his face.  Even LaBrie shines during his moments on stage as he leads the way.  Now while the concert’s set list and the band’s performance thereof does plenty to ensure audience’s engagement and entertainment, the concert is not perfect.  The concert’s audio production does raise some concerns.

Throughout the course of the roughly two-and-a-half-hour concert’s run time, there are many moments in which the audio sounds somewhat unbalanced.  LaBrie’s vocals, at many points, sound washed out in favor of the performance of his band mates.  It does not happen in every single song, but it does happen enough that one cannot ignore the issue.  Those moments are not the only points at which the audio production proves problematic.  The pre-recorded narration in the Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory also comes across as being rather washed out.  It is audible, but sounds more like it was recorded in the distance by a smart phone than by an actual professional recording device.  It is a minor matter, but still important to the presentation of the album’s story in its own right.  Losing that element detracts from the recording’s presentation in its own right.  There are also moments when the sounds from Rudess’ keyboards echo more than they seemingly should through the concert hall.  As with the sound of the narrator in the Metropolis Part 2 set, the sound just comes across as being too “raw” in those moments.  Thankfully, even with the noted audio concerns in mind, they are so spread out that they do not make the concert experience a failure.  The concerns raised by the concert’s audio issues are countered by the positives of the recording’s video production.

Throughout the course of the concert, audiences are given the best seat in the house.  Forget just looking up at the band from floor level.  At some points in the show, audiences are taken not just on stage but to an up close level with Rudess thanks to a camera mounted on his stationary keyboards.  Additionally, audiences are taken high above the audience at other points, and on stage, showing each member of the band at work.  The shot transitions are smooth and help to amplify the energy in the songs and performances, adding even more enjoyment and engagement to the recording.  When this aspect is considered with everything else noted here, the presentation in whole proves to be a work that Dream Theater’s longtime fans will find an enjoyable occasional concert experience.

Dream Theater’s latest live recording Distant Memories: Live in London is an interesting new addition to its catalog of live presentations.  The band’s ninth live recording, it presents a unique set list that will engage and entertain listeners in its own right.  The audio production used in the recording does present some problems for the concert’s presentation, but not to the point that the concert is not worth experiencing.  The video production featured in the recording gives audiences the best seat in the house, and works with the band’s performance to ensure audiences’ engagement and enjoyment.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the band’s new live recording.  All things considered, the band’s new recording proves to be a presentation that in the long run, will be more than just a distant memory for the band’s fans.  It is available now. 

More information on Distant Memories: Live in London is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://www.dreamtheater.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dreamtheater

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/dreamtheaternet

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Illuminated Minerva Debuts New Single, ‘Wilder (Mother Goddess)’

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Independent prog-rock band Illuminate Minerva debuted the latest single from its new album last week.

The band debuted its new single ‘Wilder (Mother Goddess) Thursday through New Fury Media. The song is the third single from its album Enigma Adamantine, which is available now. Its debut comes more than a month after the band premiered the album’s second single single, ‘Abductions,’ and approximately two months after the debut of the record’s lead single, ‘Sightings’ and its companion video.

As with the song’s predecessors, this work’s lyrical content follows the record’s overarching theme of UFOs and alien abductions. Its musical arrangement is a heavy but controlled prog-metal composition that will appeal to fans of bands, such as Fates Warning and ream Theater, as well as Arch Echo.

The track listing for Enigma Adamantine is noted below.

Track Listing:
1. Heart Beat of Creation (9:48)
2. Sightings (5:08)
3. Abductions (7:05)
4. Wilder (Mother Goddess) (8:37)
5. Illuminatus Majoris (13:03)
Album Length: 43:44

More information on Illuminated Minerva’s new single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://illuminatedminerva.bandcamp.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/illuminatedminerva

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Arcana Premieres Debut EP’s Lead Single, ‘Wings’

Independent rock band Arcana debuted the lead single from its forthcoming debut EP Letters From A Lost SoulAct I: The World One Forms this week.

The band debuted its new single ‘Wings’ Wednesday through The Prog Space. The song is a full instrumental composition and the record’s only instrumental track, according to a statement from the band.

“’Wings’ is the instrumental track on the EP and acts as a kind of overture to the whole project, displaying a variety of sounds that will be used and called back upon throughout the EP and future releases,” the statement reads. “It ranges from hope to despair, longing to contentment, and shows where the project is capable of going.”

The polyrhythmic patters in the drumming, guitars and drums will appeal to fans of bands, such as Rush, Scale the Summit, and Dream Theater. Listeners can also compare the arrangement to works from the likes of Caligula’s Horse and Leprous to an equal degree.

Letters From A Lost SoulAct I: The World One Forms is scheduled for release Nov. 6. The EP’s track listing is noted below.

Track Listing:
1. Letters From A Lost Soul (0:53)
2. Wings (7:11)
3. Tailwind (3:55)
4. Octosun/Wings (Reprised) (9:54)
EP Length: 21:55

More information on Arcana’s new single and EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://thearcanacollective.com

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

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Arch Echo’s New EP Is Sure To Help Continue Building The Band’s Fame

Courtesy: Earshot Media

Independent prog-metal band Arch Echo did not make its fans wait long for its latest release.  The band released its new EP Story I Friday.  The four-song record’s release comes less than two years after the release of its then most recent studio recording, its 2019 album You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!  The eight-song album was released April 24, 2019.  The band previewed its new EP last month when it premiered the video for the EP’s lead single, ‘To The Moon.’  That song and the rest of the record’s compositions come together to make the record so appealing.  The sequencing of the record’s songs adds to the EP’s appeal in its own way while the production puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation.  All three items are in their own way, key to the EP’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the EP a work that will appeal to any prog-rock and metal fan.

Story I is a musical story that will appeal widely to fans of the prog-metal and rock realms.  That is due in part to the EP’s featured arrangements.  The arrangements in question lend themselves easily to comparisons to so much work from Dream Theater.  That is evident through the collective guitar work, drumming, keyboards and bass.  The sound created by the whole harkens back specifically to compositions created by Dream Theater during the mid and late 1990s.  At the same time, audiences could just as easily make comparisons to some works from Spock’s Beard.  The polyrhythmic patters presented throughout each work and the varied approaches give the songs their own unique identities separate from the works of the noted influences.  What’s more, the way the songs’ moods change within each work adds to their appeal.  Case in point is the duality presented in ‘Strut.  At times fiery, but still positive in its sound, and at others more relaxed, the song paints such a rich musical picture.  ‘To The Moon’ meanwhile hints at influences from not just Dream Theater, but also Scale The Summit, with its keyboards, bass, precise and percussive guitar work and equally precise time keeping.  The picture that it paints is just as vivid as that created through ‘Strut.’  ‘Measure of a Life’ meanwhile creates its own deep, moving musical environment through its own unique arrangement that is anchored through each band member’s performance equally.  The noted influences are there, and yet again, they still serve only as groundwork of sorts.  Not once do audiences have to worry about the band copying its influences here or in the EP’s other songs.  Keeping all of this in mind, the EP’s arrangements featured throughout this brief presentation make it a presentation that while short, is still engaging and entertaining in its own way.  They are collectively just one way in which the EP shows its strength.  The arrangements’ sequencing adds to the EP’s appeal.

As has already been noted, the arrangements featured in Story I show clear influence from a handful of Arch Echo’s more well-known prog-metal and prog-rock counterparts.  For all of that audible influence, the arrangements still present their own unique, enjoyable identities.  The sequencing of those original compositions builds on the foundation formed by those arrangements.  The record starts strong with its lead single/opener ‘To The Moon.’  The only point at which is necessarily pulls back even slightly comes in ‘Leonessa.’  It is important to note here that while the song does have plenty of more “relaxed” moments, those moments are entwined into some more high-energy moments throughout.  So the EP does pull back here, but not entirely.  The balance between the more energetic and reserved moments here make for a good “break point” of sorts for the EP.  It serves to break up the record and keep things interesting for listeners.  It is because of this moment that the EP’s finale, ‘Measure of a Life’ that much more impacting as the record’s closer.  When all of this is considered together, it leaves no doubt as to the importance of the EP’s sequencing.  When this aspect is considered along with the record’s arrangements, those two elements collectively make the record that much more appealing for listeners.  They are not the EP’s only key aspects.  Its production rounds out its most important elements.

The production that went into this record is important to note because so much is going on in each song.  Between the sometimes frenetic riffing and the precision in the time keeping, even with all of its flourishes, the harmonies in the bass line and the kinetic energy in the keyboard performances, each song boasts so much.  Considering how much is happening in each of the EP’s songs, it is clear that a lot of time and effort had to be put in to balance each performance within each song.  That painstaking effort paid off, too.  Each musician gets his own moment and attention within each song.  The end result here is a record that is just as engaging and appealing for its technical work behind the glass as for that in front of the boards.  It becomes a work that every prog-metal and prog-rock fan will enjoy.

Arch Echo’s new four-song EP Story I is a strong new presentation for the up-and-coming prog-metal outfit that is sure to help build the band’s reputation within the noted communities just as much as its predecessors.  That is proven in part through its arrangements.  The arrangements feature influences from some of the prog-metal and rock communities but that also maintain their own unique identities.  The sequencing of the noted arrangements builds on the foundation formed through the arrangements and makes the EP even more enjoyable.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to the EP’s presentation and cements it that much more.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the EP. All things considered, they make the record a work that every prog-metal and rock fan should hear at least once if not more. 

More information on Arch Echo’s new EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/archechoband.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Infinite Eve Debuts ‘2020’ Video

Infinite Eve debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new instrumental single ‘2020‘ Tuesday.  Written and performed by Infinite Eve guitarist Paul Warren, the song also features a guest appearance by guitarist Any Wood (Scott Stapp, Rascal Flatts, Sebastian Bach).

The video’s visualization does its own share to engage audiences.  It features an eye whose color constantly changes, as well as what is believed to be Warren performing the song and various digital graphics.  throughout it all, the accents in the bars are echoed in a specific fashion, too.

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

The song’s arrangement features a heavy yet controlled guitar riff that echoes the tensions felt by audiences this year.  The ethereal choral vocals and the subtle electronics and keyboards lend the arrangement to comparisons to works from the likes of Dream Theater and Devin Townsend.

More information on Infinite Eve’s new single, video and more is available online now at:

 

Websitehttp://infiniteeve.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/infiniteevemusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/infiniteeveband

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and  “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

Arch Echo Debuts ‘To The Moon Video’

Courtesy: Earshot Media

Independent prog-metal band Arch Echo debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘To The Moon‘ Thursday.  The fully instrumental song is the lead single from the band’s forthcoming EP Story I, which is scheduled for release Oct. 2.  Its release will come less than a year after the release of the band’s most recent studio recording, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!  The band released its self-titled debut album in 2016.

Arch Echo’s new video features its members — Richie Martinez (drums), Joe Calderone (bass), Joey Izzo (keyboards), Adam Rafowitz (guitar), and Adam Bentley (guitar) performing the song against a tunnel-like backdrop from various angles.  The song’s arrangement immediately lends itself to comparisons to works from Dream Theater.  Comparisons are also possible to fellow up-and-coming prog metal outfit The Dead Centuries and to the veteran prog-metal band Scale The Summit.

The single and video’s debut comes more than two months after the band debuted the video for its then latest single, ‘Stella.’

Izzo talked about the arrangement featured in ‘To The Moon’ during a recent interview.

“To the Moon is contagiously uplifting and a really fun sonic journey. The groovy part in the middle is a bit of a new adventure for us and then it ends with a huge keyboard solo that was a ton of fun to make. I’m really happy with how this one turned out!”

The track listing for Story I is noted below.

Story I track list

1. To The Moon – 4:13

2. Strut – 4:32

3. Leonessa – 5:02

4. Measure of a Life – 7:15

More information on Arch Echo’s new EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/archechoband,

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Petrucci’s New Solo LP Was Worth The 15-Plus-Year Wait

Courtesy: Sound Mind Music/The Orchard

Prog-metal band Dream Theater’s members are some of the hardest working musicians in the music community today.  Front man James LaBrie has kept himself busy in the past with his Mullmuzzler project.  Keyboardist Jordan Rudess has released any number of solo albums throughout his professional career.  Bassist John Myung has recorded with the likes of Platypus, Gordian Knot, and Explorer’s Club.  Even famed former Dream Theater drummer and founder Mike Portnoy has kept himself constantly busy during and after his extensive tenure with the band, recording and performing with Winery Dogs, Yellow Matter Custard, Transatlantic, and countless other projects. Fellow former members Derek Sherinian and Kevin Shirley also have kept themselves constantly busy.  This weekend, longtime guitarist John Petrucci, who has kept himself busy in his own right, released his latest solo recording in the form of Terminal Velocity.  The nine-song instrumental record is a positive new offering from Petrucci whose last solo record Suspended Animation was released 15 years ago.  Its success comes from the fact that just as with that record, it shows the depth and breadth of his talents.  ‘Happy Song,’ the album’s third track is one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Out of the Blue,’ which comes a little later in the record’s 55-minute run time does the same in its own fashion.  It will be addressed a little later.  Much the same can be said of ‘Snake in My Boot,’ the album’s penultimate track, as the other two songs noted here and many of the album’s other songs.  When those songs and the compositions addressed here are considered together, they make Terminal Velocity a welcome solo return for John Petrucci that is certain to find wide appeal.

John Petrucci’s sophomore solo album Terminal Velocity is a presentation from the famed guitarist that proves it was well worth the wait.  That is proven from the start to end of the nearly hour-long instrumental presentation.  One of the songs featured in this record that serves well to support the noted statements comes early in its run in the form of ‘Happy Song.’  ‘Happy Song’ is one of the most mainstream accessible works that Petrucci has ever crafted in his extensive career.  The six-minute opus opens with a driving, upbeat composition that is reminiscent of his work as a member of Liquid Tension Experiment, but then quickly shifts gears, transitioning into a more poppy punk rock vibe in its lead verse section.  The riff there is the kind of style that one would expect more from Sum 41, Blink-182 and other similar bands.  From there, the arrangement just as quickly shifts to a more ballad type work that is still catchy in its own right.  One could even argue that there is a touch of 80s hair metal infused into the sound in the chorus sections.  What is interesting about the whole of the song is that as much as these two stylistic approaches are unalike one another, they still blend so well here.  That is a testament to Petrucci’s talents as a musician and producer.  By the time the song ends, audiences will feel wholly fulfilled even despite the song’s length.  That in itself says a lot about the song and about Petrucci.  That he can take two sounds that are so starkly unalike one another and manage to make them work so solidly in one work and do so for six minutes is worthy of applause.  It definitely lives up to its title, as it will make any listener happy. To that end it is just one of the ways in which this album proves so impressive.  ‘Out of the Blue’ is another of the album’s strong points.

‘Out Of The Blue’ is a well-placed addition to Terminal Velocity.  It breaks up the high energy exhibited in the rest of the album’s songs.  It starts off with a nice bluesy approach akin to something one might expect from Joe Satriani, but then eases its way into an equally introspective work that is more along the lines of something that fits into Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity.  Again, here is quite an interesting juxtaposition of styles, yet even with such a notable difference in sounds, the two styles manage to work so well alongside one another.  The end result is a work that is so unlike anything else featured on Terminal Velocity and that because of that difference shows even more why this album is well worth hearing.  It is just one more of the album’s most notable works.  ‘Snake in My Boot’ is yet another interesting addition to the album.

‘Snake in My Boot’ is distinct from so much of the material on Terminal Velocity just as much as ‘Out Of The Blue’ and ‘Happy Song.’  This time out, Petrucci offers audiences a song that is more deeply rooted in the hair metal of the 80s than anything progressive.  The opening bars, with their foot stomping, clapping and infectious guitar riff immediately conjure the noted thoughts.  That whole creates a fun vibe for listeners that will keep audiences fully engaged and entertained right to the song’s end.  The steady, solid time keeping, with its nonstop eighth note patterns and occasional flare from the cymbals enriches the song even more, as does the companion bass line.  The whole of all those elements paints so many pictures.  It goes without saying that this composition is one that will become a live favorite for audiences.  In fact, listening to the claps and foot stomping, one can immediately see an audience doing just that in person while Petrucci plays his riffs for the masses.  Keeping that in mind, that ability to pain such a rich musical picture and the ability to get stuck so easily in listeners’ minds while standing on its own merits makes clear why it is another important addition to Petrucci’s new album.  When it is considered along with the other songs addressed here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the album becomes a work that though 15 years in the making, was well worth the wait.

More than 15 years passed between the release of John Petrucci’s new solo album Terminal Velocity Friday and its predecessor Suspended Animation.  Considering how busy Petrucci had kept himself in that time in his work with his band mates in Dream Theater, it comes as no surprise that so much time had passed.  Even with so much time having passed, this record shows that Petrucci had not lost his creative side by any means.  All three of the songs addressed here clearly support the noted statement.  Each song proves that Petrucci is more than just a talented prog-metal guitarist.  Rather, it shows the true depth and breadth of his talent.  From 80s hair metal to the blues to even pop punk and things in-between, the album shows Petrucci has quite the talent.  All things considered, this album shows once more why John Petrucci remains one of the elite guitarists in the music community in whole and why the this album was worth the wait.  It is available now.  More information on Terminal Velocity is available along with all of John Petrucci’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.johnpetrucci.com

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

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lufeh Holds Its Own Against Its Prog Counterparts With Its Debut LP

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Independent prog-rock band Lufeh is working to make itself one of the next big names in the noted genre.  The band debuted its debut album Luggage Falling Down independently in April.  The eight-song LP is a presentation that the most devoted prog fans will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in large part to its musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  The album’s lyrical themes present their own point of interest for listeners.  They will be discussed a little later.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, and will also be addressed later.  All three noted items are important in their own way to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Luggage Falling Down a presentation that prog rock and metal fans alike will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Luggage Falling Down is an interesting new offering from up-and-coming independent prog-rock band Lufeh.  The record stands out in this year’s field of new prog records in part because of its musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question vary stylistically from one to the next throughout the course of the record’s 33-minute run time.  That will be discussed in a moment.  The bigger picture is that the arrangements present influences from a variety of the band’s contemporaries.  Among the contemporaries whose influences who are shown are bands, such as Dream Theater, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Spock’s Beard.  More specifically, the band takes a page from Dream Theater’s early days (a la Images & Words, Awake, and Falling Into Infinity) in its arrangements in its heavier and softer moments.  The keyboard arrangements within the bigger compositions are especially similar to works from Spock’s Beard and ELP.  To a lesser extent, one could even ague that the stylistic approach featured in the keyboard lines even has a slight influence from Rush just as much as the aforementioned bands.  ‘Find My Way,’ the album’s opener, is perhaps the best example of the Dream Theater influence what with the heavy guitar riffs, drumming and keyboards.  Front man Dennis Atlas even sounds almost identical to longtime Dream Theater front man James LaBrie here.  ‘Doors,’ the album’s third song, is comparable to some of the works from Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity.  At the same time, the experimental nature in the guitar line and the polyrhythmic approach to the drums lends the song just as much to comparisons to works from Rush.  On yet another interesting note, ‘Trial of Escapade’ could actually be argued to have more modern prog influence from the likes of Liquid tension Experiment and Scale The Summit with its experimental and percussive nature, bass-driven arrangement.  ‘End Of The Road,’ with its keyboards, guitars and drumming immediately conjures thoughts of ELP and Rush, once again going back to the noted influence.  The album’s multi-faceted influences are just as prevalent throughout the albums’ last two songs, ‘Escape’ and ‘The Edge’ as the rest of the album’s featured songs.  All things considered, the musical side of this record does more than its share to make the album worth hearing at least once.  It is just one of the album’s most notable aspects.  Its lyrical content adds to its interest.

The lyrical themes featured throughout Luggage Falling Down are notable because of their depth.  ‘Find My Way’ is just one example of that depth.  As noted on the band’s official website, the song’s lyrical theme presents a message about “turning dreams into reality.”  That statement is illustrated well in the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “Too many times I’ve been home/Lying on the floor/And the dreams are flowing over/ From the holes within my soul/And I’ve gotta get a hold/To compromise and find my way.”  The song continues in its second verse, “How many roam in the world alone/And hold on to the pain?/With a thirst for control that only complicates/I know I’ll find my way I know I’ll find my way.”  That affirmation at the verse’s end that “I know I’ll find my way” is that moment when the song’s subject reaches that moment when he/she knows he/she will make his/her dreams become reality and do what needs to be done to make that happen.  It is a statement, when coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, will encourage listeners with that ability to connect to audiences.  It is just one of the ways in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.  ‘End Of The Road’ does its own part to show that importance.

Where ‘Find My Way’ serves as an inspirational piece, ‘End Of the Road’ comes across as being more introspective.  At the same time, the situation described is something that many audiences will find relatable to some sense.  It is a song that comes across lyrically as being about finding some direction in life.  That is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, which states, “Driving alone Down on some highway to the end of the road/Not sure where it goes/Hoping to find Some kind of sign to move a part of my soul/By the night time There could be a new place to call home.”  Now given, this line in itself does come across as being somewhat cliché, as so many songs out there have taken a very similar approach, lyrically speaking.  That aside, it still will connect with listeners even here.  The song’s second verse adds to the connection that audiences will make with the work.  The second verse states, “And doubts come to live inside/Til minds lose their will to fight/The time it takes consumes our lives/The time it takes consumes our lives/I don’t know which way to go/Somewhere in the center of the soul/Shape the things you do/Keep the things you hold.”  Additionally, the song’s chorus stresses, “Taking all the time will make it slow.”  This comes across as another through-invoking work in its own right.  That mention of “Shape the things you do/Keep the things you hold” almost comes across as Atlas saying to listeners, throughout everything, keep what is important close and take things at our own pace.  It is an interesting statement that is certain resonate with listeners just as much as that presented in ‘Find My Way.’  It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical themes prove pivotal to the album’s presentation, and certainly not the last.  The lyrical theme of the album’s latest single, ‘My World’ is, as the band notes on its website, about “doing the right thing.”

The only verse featured in ‘My World’ translates that message of doing the right thing by stating, “Thoughts can take our words to other places/Minds to different spaces It can play a trick on what we’ve known/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s burning deep inside/To do what’s right/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s certain as your soul/You always have control/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s burning in your soul You’re always in control.”  The message is translated with relative clarity here.  What’s more, it is another positive message from the band.  That positive message, joined with the thoughtful themes featured in the album’s other songs leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  When this is considered along with the album’s musical content, the result is a record that prog fans will find well worth hearing at least once if not more.  That overall content does a lot to make the album appealing, and is not the last of the album’s most notable elements.  Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The album’s sequencing is important to note because it shows how much thought was put into the album’s overall energies.  The changes that each song undergoes within itself keeps things interesting for listeners throughout the course of the album’s run.  For instance, ‘The Unknown’ opens with the noted vintage Dream Theater influence in its arrangement, what with the keyboards, drumming and guitar line, but then at one point, goes into a more experimental approach, all without losing the song’s energy despite that stylistic change.  That experimental sound is driven through its bass and keyboards, nad will certainly keep listeners engaged purely out of interest.  As the song ends and transitions into ‘Doors,’ the band goes more into a prog-metal direction, which keeps the album’s energy high.  ‘Trial of Escapade,’ as noted, follows ‘Doors’ and boasts its own experimental approach that also maintains the album’s energy in its own right.  The stylistic changes continue from that point on, but at no point in the album’s second half does the energy ever let up too much even with those changes.  Put simply, the album’s sequence shows just how much time and thought was put into making sure the album flowed easily from one song to the next even with so much going on in each arrangement.  That effort paid off, too, so applause goes to whomever was responsible for that aspect of the album.  When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s overall content, the whole of the noted elements once more proves why the record deserves to be heard at least once, as it is a viable contender among this year’s new prog rock and metal albums.

Lufeh’s debut album Luggage Falling Down is a viable success for the band.  It is a work that holds its own against its current prog counterparts.  That is evidenced in part through its musical arrangements, as discussed here.  They change style from one to the next, and give listeners a wide range of prog rock and metal opuses even in a span of eight songs and 33 minutes.  The album’s lyrical themes are thoughtful and certain to engage listeners just as much as the album’s musical content.  The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Luggage Falling Down a notable new entry in itself in this year’s field of new prog records, and a notable debut for the band, too.

Luggage Falling Down is available to stream and download through SpotifyApple Music and Lufeh’s official Bandcamp page.  The album’s track list is noted below.

 

Track Listing:
1. Find My Way (4:25)
2. The Unknown (3:36)
3. Doors (4:06)
4. Trial of Escapade (4:24)
5. My World (4:52)
6. End of The Road (4:05)
7. Escape (4:03)
8. The Edge (4:04)
Album Length: 33:39

 

More information about Lufeh’s new single and album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://lufehband.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/lufehband

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/lufehband

 

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BPMD’s ‘American Made’ Covers Collection Is Entertaining, But Hardly Memorable

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Covers collections are among the most peculiar releases that musical acts of any genre can release during their careers.  Unlike singles compilations, which in their own way, actually serve a purpose – that purpose being that they could lead new audiences to pick up an act’s albums in whole – covers compilations serve little if any purpose.  They are just collections of songs that acts put together to “pay tribute” to other acts and make money in the process.  They are really just space fillers that acts use in order to satisfy contractual obligations for album release numbers.  Keeping that in mind, one can’t help but wonder why respected and talented musicians, such as Bobby Blitz (Overkill), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo, Liquid Tension Experiment, etc.), Phil Demmel (ex-Machine Head, Vio-lence) and Mark Menghi (Metal Allegiance) would come together just to create a compilation of cover songs for what is right now its first and only release.  The 10-song compilation, titled American Made, is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records.  It does delve into music from some notable bands who have come before this hard rock supergroup dubbed BPMD.  That dichotomy of the bands whose music is covered versus the band performing said songs does make for at least some interest at best.  This item will be addressed a little later.  The specific arrangements of said songs is certain to be its own discussion point.  They will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of this compilation.  All things considered, American Made proves itself to be a record that while worth hearing at least once, is sadly anything but memorable.

Hard rock super group BPMD’s debut recording American Made is a recording that is worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more than that.  One of the record’s only saving graces is the contrast of the bands whose works are covered to the band performing said covers.  The bands whose works are covered throughout this roughly 37-minute collection include, but are not limited to Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and Grand Funk Railroad.  Even Mountain gets its own recognition here.  Simply put, the bands whose works are covered here are in a realm that is completely opposite of the bands from which BPMD’s members have come.  Blitz is front man of the veteran thrash metal outfit Overkill.  Portnoy spent the majority of his professional career keeping time for the famed prog-metal outfit Dream Theater.  Even the other projects in which he has taken part have been in genres directly opposite of that of the covered bands.  Much the same can be said of Demmel and Menghi.  Considering the contrast of the resumes of BPMD’s members and the bands that they cover here, that in itself is worth at least engagement for audiences.  It shows that the band was willing to go out on a limb and do something different than what they normally do in their dayjobs.  One could also argue that maybe it is a display of the acts that influenced the band’s members.  If that’s that case, then the group has definitely gone far from those influences over the years, again making for its own share of discussion for listeners.  To that end, that contrast of the band’s collective background and the bands that this group covered does at best a little bit for the collection.  Directly tied to those discussions is the discussion on the collection’s one unavoidable negative, the very fact that it is a covers collection.

It has already been noted here that the members of BPMD have decidedly outstanding resumes.  So to that end, it is just baffling that considering the band members’ pedigrees, the group’s first impression of sorts would be a collection of songs that have been covered time and again by so many other acts.  These men are elite figures within the hard rock and metal communities.  It made audiences hope for something original right out of the gate so to speak.  Instead, the group opted to essentially phone it in and put out a covers compilation.  Had the group gone that route of releasing a debut loaded with original content first and then this record later, it would have made the compilation easier to accept. What’s more, unlike the case of Fozzy, which also started off with a collection of covers so long ago, it has to be assumed that BPMD is just a one-off project for its members.  At least in the case of a band, such as Fozzy, it was known that said band’s debut was just the beginning for that act.  This knowledge detracts from the draw of American Made.  It essentially makes the compilation come across as little more than a cash grab for the band and nothing more.  Keeping that in mind, this unavoidable aspect of American Made makes it difficult to call this record memorable.  While this aspect cannot be ignored, it does not make the album a complete failure for the group.  BPMD’s take on the record’s songs makes for its own share of engagement.

One of the most interesting updates that the band features in American Made is that of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special.’  BPMD’s update does largely stay true to its source material by and large.  The amped up re-imagining also gives the song a new identity and feel, needless to say.  It gives the song more of a 1980s hair metal type of sense.  Whether fans love or hate this one will be left to them, but it is definitely an interesting take, needless to say.  BPMD’s update of Aerosmith’s ‘Toys in the Attic’ is another key addition to the collection.  As with the band’s cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special,’ this cover also stays largely true to its source material.  It just once again gives the cover an amped up remake.  The song even goes so far as to include Joe Perry’s guitar solo from the original work.  It’s just weird hearing Bobby Blitz’s gritty vocals and the full-on hard rock re-imagining here.  That aside, this update actually works almost as well as the original.  BPMD’s cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘American Band’ is another important addition to this compilation.  The band’s take once more does strive to stay true to its source material, and it is certain in its own right to create a lot of discussion among listeners.  That’s because while it does stay true to the source material, it seems to have trouble balancing its attempt to echo the song’s classic rock sound and the band members’ own hard rock and metal leanings.  It is definitely going to have listeners talking.  That is not to say that the song is a total loss or that any of the compilation’s works are losses.  The songs will certainly leave listeners talking, though.  Between the discussions insured through the musical updates and the very lineup of featured bands, which could actually lead some listeners to embark on musical journeys into catalogs of bands to which they otherwise might not have listened, the compilation proves itself worth hearing at least once.  To that end, the compilation is not a total failure.  However, one cannot ignore the fact that considering the resume of each of BPMD’s members, this just seems like little more than a cash grab.  To that end American Made makes itself worth hearing at least once, but anything but an American classic itself

BPMD’s covers collection American Made is a headscratcher of a record.  The first release from the hard rock super group, it will potentially lead some listeners to take their own journeys into the catalogs of the record’s featured bands.  The songs that are covered here play even more into that potential musical journey of discovery, as the covers will definitely lead to lots of discussion among audiences.  For all of the positives that the record’s featured bands and songs generate, one still cannot ignore the very issue that the band’s members are among the music industry’s elite figures.  To that end, coming together for potentially just one record and making said record a covers collection will leave a somewhat bitter taste in many listeners’ mouths, so to speak.  It leaves one feeling like this was just a rushed, phoned in work that was little more than a cash grab for the band’s members.  Keeping all of this in mind, the record proves itself worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more than that.  American Made is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records.  More information on American Made is available along with all of BPMD’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://bpmdmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/bpmdofficial

 

 

 

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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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