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.

The Winery Dogs’ Debut Even Better The Second Time Around

Courtesy:  Loud & Proud Records

Courtesy: Loud & Proud Records

Billy Sheehan, Mike Portnoy, and Richie Kotzen (a.k.a. The Winery Dogs) released their self-titled debut last summer.  The rock super group’s album proved to be one of the best rock records of 2013 at least in the view of this critic.  Now the trio has followed up the success of its debut full-length with a re-issue of that album that includes a bonus live disc boasting a ten-song live performance by the band.  That recording, Unleashed in Japan 2013, combines songs from the band’s self-titled debut, and songs previously unreleased in the United States.  The bonus disc itself is the central point of the re-issue’s enjoyment.  The recording’s set list is another reason that audiences will enjoy the bonus concert.  The show’s audio mix is the finishing touch for the whole package.  That factor, the set list and the very fact that this show would be included with the original album makes the whole package one of the year’s re-issues definitely worth checking out.

The new re-issue of The Winery Dogs’ self-titled 2013 debut record is one of the few album re-issues definitely worth checking out in 2014.  The primary reason for that is the album’s bonus companion live recording.  The Winery Dogs obviously isn’t the first band to re-issue an album with a bonus live recording.  But The Winery Dogs is a super group of sorts.  Its members each have their own projects going on outside of this one.  So, touring time is more than likely limited.  That being the case, it makes any live recording all the more valuable especially for fans that don’t have or haven’t had the chance to experience The Winery Dogs live.  The companion live recording is even more of a bonus when compared to the live recordings included as companion material by other bands on their albums.  Other bands just take performances from their tours and jam them all together onto a CD or DVD (or both in some cases).  The Winery Dogs didn’t do that here.  This recording is an extensive concert recorded in Tokyo, Japan, July 17th 2013.  That was the second ever concert held by the band.  It would be interesting to see if Loud & Proud Records will follow up this audio recording with a companion DVD/Blu-ray video in the near future to compliment this piece of the whole.  Regardless, having included a concert recording as extensive as this one with the band’s debut album is central to this re-issue.  It gives audiences the near complete experience of what The Winery Dogs is all about.

The inclusion of the bonus live recording as part of The Winery Dogs’ new re-issue is central to the re-issue’s enjoyment.  The set list chosen for the band’s concert is just as important to the package.  Audiences will notice that the band only played a few of the songs from its debut record in this concert.  The band included in its live companion recording one song that was previously unavailable to American audiences.  The trio also included songs that its members had written and recorded with and by others.  Among those songs are: Poison’s ‘Stand’, Elvin Bishop’s ‘Fooled Around and Fell In Love’, and even a piece co-written by Richie Kotzen and Richie Zito (both of whom performed and recorded with Poison) titled ‘Shine.’  The combination of the band’s own works and the these songs makes the band’s concert all the more of a full experience.  The band’s balance of the songs throughout its set is the key to that enjoyment.  And set alongside the concert’s audio mix, the concert becomes a complete experience for fans.

The set list chosen for the band’s concert presented here is quite well balanced, especially being a concert promoting the band’s debut album.  As important as the set list is to the experience, the audio quality of the recording is especially important.  That applies whether or not audiences were actually there in person at the show.  The show’s audio mix is relatively clear. The vocals and music are both equally balanced. The show’s audio operator is to be commended for handling what was a clear issue with the venue’s acoustics. Even on record, audiences can tell that the concert’s venue had to have had rather high ceilings. Even despite this, the person helming the boards compensated quiet well for this, putting what is the final touch to the recording, making it a recording that any fan of these three veteran musicians will love. The recording together with the band’s original debut album make the package as a whole one of the year’s few re-issues so far worth checking out.

The band is currently touring in support of its newly re-issued album. It will perform live at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT. The band’s current tour schedule also brings it to North Carolina for a pair of dates this month. A performance at Amos Southend in Charlotte, North Carolina is scheduled for next Saturday, May 10th and one to follow the next day at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem. The band’s current tour schedule is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs. Audiences can check out the band’s tour schedule there as well as keep up with the latest news from the band, too.

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.

Roadrunner Records Announces Trio Of Releases For Record Store Day

Roadrunner Records has announced a group of special releases for Record Store Day.

Courtesy:  Roadrunner Records

Courtesy: Roadrunner Records

Roadrunner Records will re-issue Slipknot’s Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses tomorrow as part of the annual Record Store Day across the country. The album will be released on double clear vinyl in limited quantities.

Courtesy:  Roadrunner Records

Courtesy: Roadrunner Records

Courtesy:  Roadrunner Records

Courtesy: Roadrunner Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also scheduled for release tomorrow from Roadrunner Records specially for Record Store Day are; Opeth’s Watershed (2008) and a twelve-inch picture disc single for Dream Theater’s ‘Illumination Theory.’ Watershed will be re-issued on double green vinyl. ‘Illumination Theory’ comes from Dream Theater’s latest self-titled full length release. More information on Roadrunner Records’ Record Store Day releases is available online at http://www.recordstoreday.com, http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com, http://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerrecords, and http://twitter.com/rrusa. 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.

Bigelf Gives Fans Free Download Of New Song

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Bigelf will release its new album this Spring.  The band will release Into the Maelstrom on Tuesday, April 1st via InsideOut Music.

In anticipation of the album’s release, Bigelf is giving audiences the chance to download for free, one song off of its new album.  Fans can download the band’s brand new track ‘Alien Frequency’ for free now online at http://insideoutmusic.com/specials/bigelf/.  After downloading the band’s new song, fans can also check out a special EPK that gives some background information on the album’s creation.  That information is given via interviews with Bigelf front man Damon Fox.

Also available for viewing now is the lyric video for the band’s song ‘Control Freak.’  It can be viewed online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YShfPzht-mc&feature=youtu.be.

Into the Maelstrom will be available on limited edition double-disc digipack and gatefold double-disc vinyl LP. The double-disc digipack includes exclusive re-mixes and demo versions of the album’s songs.  The double-disc gatefold vinyl includes the album on both vinyl and CD.  It can be pre-ordered now online at http://www.insideoutshop.de/Artist/Bigelf/21221.  As an added bonus, Into the Maelstrom features famed drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Winery Dogs, Transatlantic) on drums.  The complete track listing for Into The Maelstrom is listed below.

1.     Incredible Time Machine
2.     Hypersleep
3.     Already Gone
4.     Alien Frequency
5.     The Professor & The Madman
6.     Mr. Harry McQuhae
7.     Vertigod
8.     Control Freak
9.     High
10.  Edge of Oblivion
11.  Theater of Dreams
12.  ITM
I. Destination Unknown
II. Harbinger Of Death
III. Memories

More information on Bigelf is available online now at http://www.bigelf.com, http://www.facebook.com/bigelfmusic and http://twitter.com/bigelf.  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.

Armoury Records Gives Sherinian’s Latest Solo Effort A Proper Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Armoury Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Armoury Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Every year, consumers see any number of albums re-issued from a variety of artists, groups, and bands. The reasons for those re-issues are as varied as the re-issues themselves. It goes without saying that among that annual mass of music, some of it is worth the purchase, while some of it is not as worthwhile. Keyboardist Derek Sherinian saw all of his solo releases re-issued this week. Those albums are among the re-issues that are worth purchasing. This is especially the case for those that are long-time fans of his music. Sherinian proved throughout each of his solo releases that he was just as good on his own as he was with any of the bands and artists with whom he had already worked over the course of his career. One of the best examples of that talent is his 2009 release, Molecular Heinosity.

Molecular Heinosityis the fifth and most recent of Sherinian’s solo releases. As with his previous four solo releases, this record is largely an instrumental release. The sole song on this album that includes any lyrics is one of two pieces he recorded with long-time friend and Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde. The song in question is ‘So Far Gone.’ Audiences will also be interested to note that Brian Tichy joins Sherinian on this track. Tichy has also played drums for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, and Zakk WYlde on Wylde’s 199 release Pride& Glory. Most recently, Tichy played with the hard rock supergroup Something Unto Nothing. So it goes without saying that there is a certain level of familiarity between the trio. And it shows in this song, too. The trio–along with fellow musicians Tina Guo (cello) and Tony Franklin (fretless bass)–come together to make this one of the album’s best pieces. Wylde proves once again on this song why he is one of the most revered guitarists in the music business. And Tichy’s timekeeping is rock solid despite the various time signature changes throughout the song. Sherinian’s work on the keys is not to be ignored, either. Whether by himself, partnered with Tina Guo’s performance on cello or even the semi-call and response with Wylde in the song’s bridge, Sherinian shows time and again in this song why he is such a sought after musician even after so many decades in the business. This isn’t the only point at which he exhibits such talent on this record. Another of the album’s high points comes in the album’s second track, titled ‘Ascension.’

‘Ascension’ is one of this album’s high points especially in that it boasts something of a similarity to the music he wrote with his former band mates in Dream Theater. To be even more precise, it sounds stylistically like the music that he wrote with his now ex-band mates for the band’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity.  What is most interesting of all in this song is just how much is going on within the context of the song’s near three-minute run time.  That’s right.  This song comes in at less than three minutes in length.  To be more exact, it clocks in at two minutes and fifteen seconds.  That’s pretty short.  Yet, the way that it gradually builds, from start to finish makes it so interesting.  Making it even more interesting is what would appear to be Sherinian mimicking a guitar part with his keyboard in this song.  If that is indeed the case, he is to be even more highly commended.  That’s because that part could easily pass as a guitar.  And it shows even more his understanding of and appreciation for his instrument.  The song’s musical effect overall shows his knowledge of music and his talent just as much.  All of that together makes this song all the more enjoyable.

The songs that comprise Molecular Heinosity each have their own musical identity.  Collectively, they make the entire album one that any fan of Sherinian will enjoy.  Now that it has been re-issued courtesy of Armoury Records, the music is just part of the album’s success.  Just as important to this re-issue is the new companion booklet.  Most people don’t pay too much attention to the liner notes that come with albums in their physical form.  But as audiences will see in the album’s new liner notes, there’s plenty to take in.  This album for instance gives listeners a bio of sorts on Sherinian and his career.  It goes all the way back to his days playing with Alice Cooper and Billy Idol as well as a little surprise background on his departure from Dream Theater.  This critic was surprised to learn that he didn’t leave Dream Theater, but was in fact let go from the band.    Along with the semi-career bio, Armoury Records also included background notes from Sherinian on a handful of songs.  That background info gives extra insight into said songs.  It’s too bad that more bands, artists, and musicians don’t do this.  It’s one more reason that the physical object will never be fully replaced by the digital.  Little things like background notes on songs as art of the liner notes serve to enhance one’s listening experience.  And this album is no exception to that rule.  The bonus liner notes and bio included in this new re-issue are wonderful compliments to the album’s music.  Together, they make the whole product again, one that any fan of Derek Sherinian will want to add to their library especially if they do not already own this record.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Derek Sherinian’s official website at http://www.dereksherinian.com/merchandise.htm.  More information on this and other releases from Derek Sherinian is available online at http://www.dereksherinian.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

LaBrie’s Latest Is The First Great EP Of 2014

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

James LaBrie’s new EP I Will Not Break is the first great EP of 2014.  The Dream Theater singer’s new release follows up the release of his most recent full length solo album, Impermanent Resonance (2013)—his sixth full length solo release overall.  LaBrie’s new EP will impress audiences right off the bat thanks to the inclusion of its title track. The track in question comes right from Impermanent Resonance.  That’s not all that audiences will appreciate from this record. Just as worthy of applause from LaBrie’s new EP, is the inclusion of ‘Why’, which also closes out Impermanent Resonance. So fans are offered some level of familiarity on this new EP, as is evidenced already.  That familiarity isn’t all that will impress audiences.  I Will Not Break closes out with a trio of remixes of songs from Impermanent Resonance.  The final piece in that trio, ‘Euphoric’, is perhaps the best of the three. And it is also a fitting closer for this recent release.  As with any EP or LP, the songs presented are just part of what makes the presentation in whole worth hearing.  LaBrie’s new EP boasts a total of nine tracks.  That leaves six others that are enjoyable in their own way.  And for anyone that is a fan of James LaBrie or even Dream Theater, I Will Not Break is a welcome addition to said individuals’ personal music collections.

I Will Not Break opens with its namesake song.  And for those that might perhaps be unfamiliar with James LaBrie’s work both by himself and with his band mates in Dream Theater, this song—the EP’s title track—is one heck of a first impression.  Those that are more familiar with LaBrie’s body of work will attest to the fact that the ferocity in this song as a whole is nothing new for him.  This applies both to the song’s musical side and that of its lyrics.  The song opens gradually, growing with echoes of its chorus until its first full powered notes from guitarist and drummer Marco Sfogli and Peter Wildoer.  Those first notes let audiences know that they are in for one heck of a ride.  Put simply, there’s almost a sort of Swedish metal influence in the pair’s performance.  LaBrie’s semi-social commentary in the song’s lyrical side compliments that intensity quite well. He sings in the song’s chorus, “So let them take/All that they can/Each one of them/I will not break/Now I have to walk/Have to walk away/Never seem to fit/Most of the time/I’ll be better off/Better off this way/And taking back what’s mine.”  Keyboardist Matt Guillory’s guttural screams of “We’re taking it back” seal the deal so to speak.  The defiant stance taken in the song’s lyrics perfectly compliment the power in the song’s musical side.  In the end, listeners will understand with both sides combined why this song was chosen as the EP’s opener.  They will also agree that including this song was just as wise a choice.  It wasn’t the only wise choice, though.  Just as wise a choice for inclusion on I Will Not Break was ‘Why.’

‘Why’ closes out James LaBrie’s most recent album.  Much like the EP’s title track, LaBrie and his band mates come together to make a song that at least on its musical side, bears a striking Swedish metal influence.  That famed “Gothenberg influence” is just as impressive here as it is in the EP’s opener.  The irony here though, is that it doesn’t necessarily match up with the song’s lyrical content.  ‘Why’ comes across as a song rooted deeply in personal relationship issues.  LaBrie sings in this song, “But here we are/Lost in the dark/So tell me why/Why are we wasting our time/Are we that scared of goodbye/That we’d rather/Be living a lie/Tell me why/Can’t we move on with our lives.”  It’s not necessarily a bad thing that this song’s lyrical and musical sides seem somewhat askew for lack of better wording.  In fact, the two different emotional states exhibited by the song’s music and lyrics make the song all the more interesting to take in.  It’s for that reason that this song being included in I Will Not Break was another wise choice for LaBrie.

The inclusion of a pair of originals from Impermanent Resonance was definitely a wise choice for this new release. The most surprisingly wise choice made for this EP is its closer.  LaBrie closes out with an interesting re-mix of ‘Euphoric’, which was also included in said album.  This was a wise choice as it is the polar opposite of ‘Why.’  Whereas ‘Why’ was a piece seemingly centered on personal relationship issues, ‘Euphoric’ presents the happier side of personal relationships. LaBrie sings in the original song, “Tired of bumming the streets alone/No relationships/On my own/Forgot what it was like/’Til she/’Til this lovely girl/She touched me.”  The re-worked version takes pieces of the song’s chorus, with LaBrie singing, “I never felt/Euphoric so high/You got me/I’m yours/A spell on me/Look forward to seeing you.”  So the same sentiment is exhibited in this NeonGenesis re-mix of ‘Euphoric.’  What makes this re-mix stand out is its electronica and dubstep elements.  Most audiences wouldn’t equate such upbeat lyrics with the sound crafted for this re-mix.  But somehow it works.  And the two sides together make it a solid re-mix and equally solid closer for I Won’t Break.  Together with the already noted songs—and those not noted—it serves as more proof of why I Won’t Break is the first great EP of 2014.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on I Won’t Break and all of the latest news and more from James LaBrie is available online at http://www.facebook.com/officialjameslabrie and http://www.jameslabrie.com.  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.