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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Sons Of Apollo Debuts ‘Fall To Ascend’ Video

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Sons of Apollo debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Fall To Ascend‘ Friday.  The song is the second single from the band’s forthcoming album MMXX, which is scheduled for release Jan. 17, 2020 through Inside Out Music.

The video features the band performing its new single, with each member presented collectively through a distinctly psychedelic video effect.  The song’s musical arrangement once again features a very familiar sound thanks to the collective work of keyboardist Derek Sherinian and drummer Mike Portnoy, both of whom previously recorded and toured with Dream Theater.  Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto’s deep vocal delivery, guitarist Ron Thal and bassist Billy Sheehan add their own special touch to the song to make the composition in whole familiar stylistically speaking, but still original in its own right.  The song’s lyrical theme adds to its interest with its thought-provoking content.

The debut of the band’s video for ‘Fall To Ascend’ comes less than a month after the band debuted the video for MMXX‘s lead single, ‘Goodbye Divinity.’  The song’s musical arrangement will appeal just as much as that of ‘Fall To Ascend’ to Dream Theater fans.  The song’s lyrical content comes across as a commentary of sorts.

Pre-orders are open now for MMXX.  Audiences who pre-order the album now through iTunes and Amazon will receive an instant grat download of ‘Goodbye, Divinity.’

Audiences who pre-save the album online will have the chance to win digital subscriptions to Modern Drummer magazine and Bass Player magazine.  They will also have the chance to win a signed Remo drumhead from the band, as well as two tickets to one of the band’s upcoming shows.

Speaking of the band’s shows, the band will launch a tour in support of MMXX on Jan. 23 in Sacramento, CA.  The tour is scheduled to run through Feb. 8 in Englewood, NJ.

After taking time off to rest and recharge, the band will launch the second leg of its tour Feb. 28 in Germany.  The exact city is still too be announced.  The European leg of the tour is scheduled to run through March 25 in Budapest, Hungary.  The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.

North America 2020
Thu 1/23            Sacramento, CA            Crest Theater
Fri 1/24             Pomona, CA                 The Glass House (https://bit.ly/2H8kNxY)
Sat 1/25            Los Angeles, CA           The Roxy (https://bit.ly/2H8aLNb)
Sun 1/26           San Francisco, CA        The Fillmore (https://bit.ly/31FYAPj)
Tue 1/28            Salt Lake City, UT          The State Room (https://bit.ly/31D8P7e)
Wed 1/29          Denver, CO                   The Oriental Theater (https://bit.ly/2Z5QC4s)
Fri 1/31             St. Charles, IL               Arcada Theater (https://bit.ly/30igOGu)
Sat 2/1              Battle Creek, MI             The Music Factory (https://bit.ly/31IwXVQ)
Sun 2/2             Toronto, ONT.               Mod Club (https://bit.ly/2Z8OuJ8)
Mon 2/3            Montreal QUE.              Corona Theater (https://bit.ly/2KF9eyU)
Wed 2/5            Boston, MA                  Paradise Rock Club (https://bit.ly/2N2rMMx)
Thu 2/6             New York, NY               Gramercy Theater (https://livemu.sc/2KHNN1r)
Fri 2/7               Jim Thorpe, PA             Penn’s Peak (https://bit.ly/2TLMy4w)
Sat 2/8              Englewood, NJ             Bergen PAC (https://bit.ly/31MKyM7)
Europe 2020
Sat 2/29            Germany                                   TBA
Mon 3/2            Drammen, Norway                     Union Scene
Tue 3/3             Gothenburg, Sweden                 Traedgarn
Thu 3/5             Kyiv, Ukraine                             N.A.U Theatre
Sat 3/7              Moscow, Russia                        RED
Sun 3/8             St Petersburg, Russia                Aurora
Tue 3/10            Pratteln, Switzerland                  Z7
Wed 3/11          Milan, Italy                                Live Club
Fri 3/13             Bilbao, Spain                            Santana 27
Sat 3/14            Barcelona, Spain                       Razzmatazz 2
Sun 3/15           Madrid, Spain                           La Riviera
Tue 3/17            France                                      TBA
Wed 3/18          France                                      TBA
Thu 3/19            London, U.K.                            Islington Assembly Hall
Fri 3/20             Eindhoven, Netherlands             Prognosis Festival
Sun 3/22           Show Brno, Czech Republic       Sono
Tue 3/24            Kosice, Slovakia                       Colosseum
Wed 3/25          Budapest, Hungary                    Barba Negra

More information on Sons of Apollo’s upcoming live dates, new single, video, album and more is available online now at:

 

Websitehttp://www.sonsofapollo.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/SonsOfApollo1

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/SonsOfApollo1

 

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‘Shehili’ Is A Solid Return For Myrath

Courtesy: earMusic

Prog-metal band Myrath is gearing up to head back out on the road next month.  The band’s upcoming European tour schedule – set to launch Oct. 29 in Oslo, Norway – is in support of the band’s fifth full-length studio recording Shehili.  The album is a presentation that is certain to appeal to a wide range of audiences, not the least of which being the band’s own longtime fans.  It will appeal just as much to prog-metal fans in general as to Myrath’s own fans.  This is evident early on in the form of ‘Born To Survive.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Wicked Dice,’ which comes almost halfway through the album’s run is another of the album’s most notable entries that proves the album’s far-reaching appeal.  The album’s title track, which is also  the album’s finale, is yet another of the most notable additions that serves to show the album’s wide appeal among prog-metal fans.  It will also be addressed later.  When it is considered alongside the other two songs noted here and the likes of ‘You’ve Lost Yourself,’ ‘Monster in My Closet’ and ‘Mersal,’ that grouping – along with the rest of the album’s offerings – makes the album in whole a work that is one of this  year’s most notable new prog-metal offerings.

Myrath’s fifth full-length studio album is one of this year’s top new prog-metal albums.  It is a work that will appeal not just to Myath’s longtime fans but prog-metal fans in general who might not be so versed in the band’s catalog.  That is proven in part through the album’s first full song, ‘Born To  Survive.’  The song’s musical arrangement continues to cross the band’s familiar Middle Eastern musical roots, that have been incorporated into each of its past four albums, with its equally familiar heavy prog-metal sound for a whole that gives the album a solid start.  What is most notable about that prog-metal sound is that it can easily be likened to the sounds of some of Dream Theater’s greatest compositions.  It is important to note here that while the Dream Theater influence is obvious here, the band does not just rip off Dream Theater’s music and claim it as its own.  Rather, the band takes that influence and uses it to create its own equally powerful composition that will keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout its three-and-a-half-minute run time.  That heavy arrangement is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content, which seems to focus on the issue of someone overcoming the people who set out to ruin others’ lives, is just as important to its whole.

Front man Zaher Zorgati sings in the song’s lead verse, “I have been deceived/Those I believed/Vultures and thieves/You are just liars/In my eyes/For envy and lust/You broke my soul/Took all of me/I faced betrayal/You evil liars/I stumbled on the way/You’ve rattled all my faith/Now I am whole again/I turn the page today.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Come bring it on/Give all you’ve got/When we’ll be done/You’ll get to know/I’m stronger than you thought/Way over, I will survive you/Judas outshine you.”  Zorgati leaves little doubt here as to the song’s lyrical message, which is a very good thing.  This is someone who has dealt far too long with some very bad people, but has not let those people get the better of him/her.  That is another aspect that makes this song’s lyrical content so important.  Gender is not  noted, so it can relate to males and females alike.  Sure, it is not the first time that any band/singer has ever crafted a song about overcoming the adversity of such people, but it is still a subject matter that is welcome any time it is presented.  That is because every listener can always benefit from such a reminder.  When this is all considered alongside the power in the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the content serves to show why the song is such an important addition to Shehili.  While the song by itself goes a long way toward proving the album’s place among this year’s field of new prog rock  and metal albums, it is just one of the songs that serves that purpose.  ‘Wicked Dice’ is another of the album’s entries that serves that purpose.

‘Wicked Dice’ comes almost halfway through Shehili’s run.  The song’s musical arrangement forms its foundation, once again demonstrating the already noted Dream Theater influence.  Again, that influence, while there, is just that.  The band has taken said influence and used it to create yet another heavy work with its own identity.  The use of the strings and Middle Eastern elements creates a symphonic sound that couples with the arrangement’s heavier elements for a whole that makes the song easily comparable to some of the works from the band’s most recent album, Legacy (2016).  That comparison is made in the best way possible, too.  The arrangement does a lot to make the song widely appealing in its own way to the noted prog-metal audiences, and is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content plays its own part in the the song’s presentation, too.

Zorgati sings in the song’s lead verse, “How can’t I see/The glow in your eyes/Flowing on the shape of your lies/Wake up to be/More than a dream/Fall into my trap/Let us roll the dice/Who knows when we will die/let it be/Let me catch your signs/Holding on, on and on/Faking the silence/Let me see underneath your eyes/Holding on, on and on/I’m breaking your laws.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I’m breaking your mind/Don’t knock it until you have tried it for a night/You won’t be cast aside/Let us play, yeah.”  This one is a little more difficult to decipher than the album’s opener.  It would seem this is someone addressing another subject, trying to figure out who that second subject really is.  This is inferred as Zorgati sings, “How can’t I see/The glow in your eyes/Flowing on the shape of your lies.”  It is almost as if the song’s main subject is saying, ‘why can’t I see the real you?’  That is inferred even more in the song’s chorus as he sings, “Let me catch your signs/Holding on/Faking the silence/Let me see underneath your eyes.”  He seems to be saying to the second subject, ‘Let me see who you really are. Let me in.”  This, as always, is just this critic’s own interpretation and could be incorrect.  Hopefully it is somewhere close to being right if not being right.  With that in mind, the song’s lyrical content here would seem to be another situation to which plenty of listeners can relate.  That is if in fact, this critic’s interpretation is right.  Who has not been in that situation of trying to figure out who someone really is, regardless of the relationship?  The tone in the song’s musical arrangement builds on that seeming story, making the song that much more impacting.  When that impact is considered along with the impact of  ‘Born To Survive,’ the two songs together show even more why Shehili is an important addition to this year’s field of prog-metal offerings.  The songs are not the album’s only key additions.  The album’s finale/title track also serves, in its own way, to show why Shehili is one of this year’s most notable prog-metal albums.

‘Shehili’ is a fitting finale accent to this record with the intense dynamic changes throughout the course of its nearly four-and-a-half-minute run time.  The song opens powerfully with a full-on orchestra/hard rock combination that eventually gives way to the more subdued verse.  That subdued sound is offset with the heavier sound of the song’s choruses.  The juxtaposition of those moods makes the song’s musical arrangement in whole, engaging and entertaining in its own right.  It is just a part of what makes the song stand out, too.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to the song’s whole as its musical arrangement.

This song’s lyrical story seems to come across as a love letter to the band’s homeland. That is inferred from the song’s very title, ‘Shehili,’ which is supposedly a dry, warm Saharan wind.  Given, Tunisia is not a Saharan or even sub-Saharan nation (it actually sits along the northern coast of Africa along the Mediterranean Sea), however, what is known as the Saharan Air Layer does cover large portions of North Africa.  Research shows the Saharan Air Layer is a collection of sand, dirt and dust that is lifted into the air above the North African desert region.  Tunisia is within that region.  Keeping all of this in mind, it makes even stronger ,the argument that perhaps this song is a love letter to Myrath’s home nation.  This is inferred as Zorgati sings in the song’s lead verse, “Open your sail for me/Like a soul searching to flee/In all that silence, be free/I’d like you to hear my plea/My face in the hot dry wind/On and on/And on and on/I’ll never be/Ever misled again/On my way home.”  The mention of the hot, dry wind seems to coincide with the natural phenomenon that is the Saharan Air Layer.  The added mention of never being misled again “On my way home” would seem to address that love for the nation.  He continues on even stronger, in the song’s second verse, “It’s like a gale to me/Don’t wanna lie to me/Walking alone to the sea/It’s my homeland that I need.”  There in itself is even more proof that this song seems to be a love letter to Myrath’s home nation, the very statement, “Walking to the sea/It’s my homeland that I need.”  Again, Tunisia is bordered on the north by the Mediterranean Sea.  It would seem that is what he is referencing.  The song’s chorus continues from here with the mention of the hot, dry wind and being “on my way home.”  Considering this and everything else noted, it would seem that lyrically speaking, ‘Shehili’ is really a love letter to Myrath’s home.  There is nothing wrong with that.  When this seeming message is coupled with the song’s powerful musical arrangement, the whole of those two elements makes the song a strong finish for Shehili and yet another example of why the album is one of this year’s most notable prog-metal albums.  The songs, considered along with the likes of ‘You’ve Lost Yourself,’ ‘Monster in My Closet’ and ‘Mersal,’ and the rest of the album’s entries strengthens that argument even more.  All things considered, the album proves itself another impressive release for longtime Myrath fans and for prog-metal fans in general.

Myrath’s fifth full-length studio recording Shehili is a strong contender for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new prog-metal albums.  It is a presentation that will appeal just as much to Myrath’s established fan base as it will to prog-metal fans in general.  That is due to a full grouping of prog-metal arrangements and to lyrical content that is just as powerful as its musical counterparts.  All three of the songs noted  here, and the rest of the album’s offerings, show that in their own way.  All things considered, they make Shehili just as appealing for those who are new to Myrath and its works as it will be to the band’s established fan base.  More information on the album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest tour news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.myrath.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/myrath

 

 

 

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‘Distance Over Time’ Is A Welcome Return To Form For Dream Theater

Courtesy: Inside Out Music

Prog-metal band Dreram Theater recently released its 14th full-length studio recording to the masses.  The album, Distance Over Time, is another strong effort from the band.  The band’s first outing away from Roadrunner Records since the 2005 release of Octavarium (Atlantic Records), is a positive return to form for the band.  It has far less of the spit-shined commercial sound of those records that the band released while on Roadrunner’s roster, and more elements of so many of its past albums.  Its lyrical themes are just as interesting as its musical content.  The album’s opener, ‘Untethered Angel’ is just one of the songs featured in the new album that serves to support those statements.  ‘S2N,’ which comes just past the album’s halfway point, does just as much to support the noted statements, and will be addressed a little later.  The album’s finale and bonus track ‘Viper King’ proves just as interesting as ‘S2N’ and ‘Untethered Angel.’  It will be discussed later, too.  Each song is important in its own right to the whole of Distance Over Time.  When they are considered together with the seven other songs not directly addressed here, the whole of the album presents Dream Theater as a band that has finally gotten back up to speed.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

Veteran prog-metal band Dream Theater has been making music, touring the world and building its fan base for 34 years. The band’s new album Distance Over Time serves as a reminder of all that the band has accomplished in that time, while also reminding listeners the band in whole has no intention of slowing down as it continues to move forward.  This is evidenced in part through the album’s opener and lead single ‘Untethered Angel.’  The song’s musical arrangement is easily comparable to the songs featured in the band’s 1999 album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory.  That is evident early on in the song’s five-minute plus run time.  The combination of front man James LaBrie’s vocal delivery style along with John Petrucci’s guitar line and Jordan Rudess’ keyboard arrangement couples with Mike Mangini’s work behind the kit to create that sense of a song that would have fit well into that album.  Considering the overall theme of that record, the lyrical theme of this work makes it feel even more like it would belong on that record.

The lyrical theme of ‘Untethered Angel’ centers on someone dealing with a lot of inner turmoil, which is very similar to the past life recollections of the figure at the center of Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory.  Given, the scenario there is not entirely like that presented here, but it is still similar enough that it would work.  LaBrie sings in the song’s lead verse, “You’ve built this world around you/Your universe/In spite of best intentions/Things could not be worse/Chaos and fear have left you hanging by a thread/As you argue with the voice inside your head/Untethered angel/Falling into darkness/Don’t be afraid of letting go/Giving up yourself will set you free.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Misgiving and dismay/Nightmares and wasted days/Can’t live your life this way/Something needs to change/Cold feet and second thoughts/Entangled, tied in knots/Avoidance at all costs/A painful thing to watch.”  From there, he returns to the chorus as the song reaches its bridge and finale.  Overall, the song seems to be addressing someone, again, dealing with a strong inner battle with himself/herself.  Those who recall MP2: SFAM will recall that the subject’s past life had quite a lot held inside.  Yes, it was a different scenario, but it was still a dark past.  To that end, this is still similar enough to the prior record to make it work.  Considering it on its own merits, it works just as well because it serves as a reminder to those going through difficult times in life (who isn’t going through some difficult emotional situations?) that things can get better.  Keeping this in mind along with the song’s fully engaging musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes a solid started for DOT and just one way in which the album proves itself a strong return to form for the band.  It is just one of the album’s high points, too.  ‘S2N,’ which comes just past the album’s halfway point, does just as much as ‘Untethered Angel’ to show what makes DOT a positive new offering from Dream Theater.

‘S2N’ stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  Needless to say, the song’s arrangement is classic Dream Theater all the way around.  Bassist John Myung’s impeccable work once again shows why he is nicknamed the octopus.  John Petrucci’s guitar line joins with Myung’s bass line to take listeners back to Dream Theater’s heyday while Mike Mangini’s time keeping and Jordan Rudess’ work on the keys strengthens the foundation even more.  Mangini’s ability to seamlessly keep time while utilizing every single inch of his kit is impressive to say the least.  The whole of the arrangement harkens back to the works featured in the band’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity while also adding a bit of a modern metal vibe – again thanks to Petrucci – at times.  That element is just one part of what makes the song so engaging and entertaining.  The seeming social commentary contained within the song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest to the song.

LaBrie sings in the song’s lead verse, “Are we paying attention or are we drifting/Too much negative action/Not enough positive reaction/What’s the state of humanity/Where’s the peace and harmony/Free the signal/Your inner voice/Time to transcend/Block out the noise/Signal to noise becomes the answer/the world keeps turning as we latch onto the wheel.”  He adds in the song’s second verse, “Have you heard the news/A surging sea of circumstance/Pain, starvation, war, abuse/Sterile gloves hide dirty hands/Shocking truth/Climate change/Floods and fires/Hurricanes/Overdose, suicide/Innocent die/Fear and race/Endless lies/Sex and faith, terrorize/Drugs and guns taking lives/Innocent die.”  There is little doubt that this is commentary about the current state of the world, and a wake up call about it all.  Given, it is hardly the first song to ever address how bad things are and the need for people to do something about it.  That does not lessen its impact or importance, as people always need to be reminded and aware so that they do not become complacent about the state of the world.  Things can potentially only get worse if people become complacent.  To that end, this content is just as important as the song’s musical arrangement.  When they are coupled, they make ‘S2N’ another example of how much DOT has to offer audiences.  It is definitely not the last example of the album’s strength.  The album’s finale and bonus track ‘Viper King’ is one more example of that strength.

‘Viper King’ stands out in part because of a musical arrangement that is largely unlike anything the band has previously crafted.  Rudess’ keyboard line and Mangini’s steady hi-hat beat conjures thoughts of Deep Purple as the song opens.  Once the rest of the band comes in, the overall heaviness creates a sense of something similar to some of today’s biggest hard rock acts.  At the same time, that link back to Deep Purple remains throughout.  The whole makes the song’s arrangement perhaps the album’s highest point.  That is because, again, it finds the band moving in what would seem to be previously unexplored territory.  It is a welcome and successful venture.  Of course it is only part of what makes the song overall stand out.  The song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest, again harkening back to Deep Purple even here.

Looking at the song’s lyrical content, one can’t help but make a comparison to Deep Purple’s Highway Star.’  That is because LaBrie seems to be singing about…well…a car; a Dodge Viper at that, thus the title ‘Viper King.’  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “Venomous by design/Lying idle, biding time/Bore down the clutch/Tore up the road/Six hundred horses/Genetic code/Lightning speed/The road she bends/Slammed down the brakes/Losing my ass end.”  One can’t help but figure that this is something about a car and simply going out driving in said car.  It’s possible that is completely the incorrect assumption, but one can’t help but imagine the noted topic is what is addressed.  The chorus adds to the supposition that the song is “auto-centric,” as LaBrie sings, “Drive on/pushed to the limit/My Viper King/We’re flying high/Drive on/Filled with desire/Nothing to fear/I feel alive/My Viper King.”  He even goes on from there to sing, “Speed demon/Tempting fate/Do or die/in the blink of an eye.”  Once again, if this is not a song about a car, it will definitely be interesting to discover the song’s actually theme.  If it is a song about a car and the simple joys of being behind the wheel on the open road, then it has been presented quite well.  That is just as much the case considering the song’s musical arrangement.  When that element is considered along with the song’s engaging lyrical content, the whole of the song makes for a great final statement from the band on this album, and yet another example of how much the album has to offer.  When the song is considered along with the songs previously discussed here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of DOT proves to be a positive return to form for Dream Theater and a sign that the band has finally gotten back up to speed.

Dream Theater’s 14th full-length studio recording Distance Over Time is a welcome return from the veteran prog-metal band.  That is because, having finally parted ways with Roadrunner Records, the band has finally returned to form on this outing.  That is evidenced through all three of the songs discussed here and the rest of the songs not directly addressed.  From start to finish, the album offers longtime fans just as much to appreciate as those who might not be as familiar with the band as those longtime fans.  Simply put, Distance Over Time proves itself to be a record that shows Dream Theater is finally back up to speed and its members have no intention of slowing down for the foreseeable future.  More information on Distance Over Time 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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Stone Leaders Debuts ‘Box Of Time’ Lyric Video

Courtesy: Vanity Music Group

Prog-metal band Stone Leaders debuted the video for its new single this week.

The band debuted the lyric video for the song ‘Box Of Time’ at Brutal Planet’s official website.  The video presents a variety of images, such as a clock on top of the moon, promotional photos of the band’s members and what looks to be New York City.

In terms of its musical content, the song’s arrangement can be compared to early works from the band’s American counterpart, Dream Theater.  In regards to its lyrical content, drummer John Macaluso (who has recorded with Dream Theater front man James LaBrie), said the song centers on the influence that our minds and memories have on us.

“You know, one day you’re doing fine until soon you’re walking down a street, and a voice or a scent — or even a song — pulls you right back to where you were before,” Macaluso said.  “Ultimately, the song is about the power of the mind, because sometimes, survival depends upon this deleting mechanism in the brain.”

‘Box Of Time’ is taken from Stone Leaders’ self-titled debut album, which was released March 15 by Vanity Music Group.  More information on ‘Box Of Time,’ Stone Leaders and Stone Leaders’ latest news is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/stoneleaders1.

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‘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

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.