Thomas Thunder’s Debut Album Will Appeal To Most Prog Rock, Metal Fans

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

It goes without saying that Derek Sherinian, Tony Franklin, and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal  are well respected by their peers in the music community.  The trio’s collective resume reads like a who’s who of rock.  From Sons of Apollo, to Dream Theater, to Alice Cooper, to Guns N’ Roses and more, the trio has worked with many of the industry’s top names.  So for the group to join up-and-coming prog wunderkind Thomas Thunder for his debut album, The Pharaoh’s Temple – released today – was an interesting step for the musicians.  It says a lot that these accomplished individuals would join forces with a 15 year-old (yes, 15 year-old) in his dream for music stardom.  It says that they saw something special in the young drummer.  Needless to say that in listening to Thunder’s work with the famed trio on his debut album, his work is impressive in its own right.  The record’s already released singles have already proven that true.  They are just a sample of what makes his work and that of his more seasoned counterparts so impressive throughout the album, too.  ‘Iridescence,’ which serves technically as part of the album’s midpoint (the record consists of nine songs), is another way in which the collective’s work makes the album worth hearing.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘King Chronos,’ the record’s penultimate entry, is another key addition to the album and will be discussed a little later.  ‘The Voyage,’ which closes out the album, is one more way in which The Pharaoh’s Temple shows its success.  When it and the other songs noted here are considered along with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole becomes a strong start for Thomas Thunder and another equally impressive outing for Sherinian, Franklin, and Thal that will appeal to most prog fans.

Thomas Thunder’s debut album, The Pharaoh’s Temple is a positive start for the young, up-and-coming drummer.  It is additionally, another enjoyable offering from his more well-known counterparts, Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, and Tony Franklin.  The record’s current singles make the clear.  So do many of the album’s other songs, not the least of which is ‘Iridescence.  While the album’s current singles are pure prog, showing influence of Dream Theater and Sons of Apollo, ‘Iridescence’ stands out because it incorporates other influences.  The nearly four-minute opus opens with a drum fill by Thunder, brooding keyboard and equally steady bass and guitar from Franklin and Thal that takes audiences back to the 80s.  Speaking of Thunder, at only 15, his talents on the drums are clear.  His fills, his ability to keep time, and add just the right flare at all of the right moments is impressive.  It is enough to put even some older drummers (this drummer included) to shame.  The collective’s work points to a bit of the big hair ballads of that age before taking on more of a pure prog approach as the song progresses.  From there, the group takes another even more dramatic turn, opting instead for a blues-based rock approach a la Deep Purple.  It makes for such a stark contrast to the other influences.  Yet at the same time the contrast is well-balanced.  It makes the song all the more interesting.  By the song’s end, it will leave listeners fulfilled through that display of well-balanced influences.  It is just one of the songs that serves to show the album’s strength.  ‘King Chronos’ does its own part to show the impact of Thunder and company’s work.

‘King Chronos’ presents its own unique arrangement separate from those featured in the rest of the album.  Its opening bars present a solemn sound, anchored by Sherinian’s work on the keyboards.  On a completely random note that likely only some will get, those opening bars are reminiscent of the music bed used for a certain scene from the little-known PC game, “The Journeyman Project 3.”  Audiences who are familiar with that game will immediately catch that clearly unintentional similarity in sound.  It only lasts briefly, though.  It very quickly gives way to a full-on symphonic sound and stylistic approach that to a point, is one part prog and one part vintage Ozzy Osbourne.  The Ozzy comparison (more specifically the Randy Rhoades comparison) comes through Thal’s work on guitar.  The prog eventually wins out, with the more vintage guitar rock sound playing more of a companion role, but a solid role nonetheless.  Again, Thunder’s abilities are on full display here.  He shows with his timekeeping ability and his ability to effectively use his whole kit that he could become one of the next big names in the prog drumming community.  The production that went into this song adds its own touch, as it adds certain aesthetic effects that enhance the song even more.  The eventual chaos that closes out the song is worth its own interest, too.  It makes for its own unique contrast to the whole.  When everything within this song is considered together, the whole makes the song yet another powerful addition to the album and another example of what the record has to offer.  It is just one more example of what the record has to offer, too.  ‘The Voyage,’ the record’s finale, is one more example of the album’s strength.

‘The Voyage’ is important to examine because once again, it offers up a clear 80s-influenced arrangement.  It is an arrangement that is also unlike any of the album’s other works.  In this case, the duality in Sherinian’s performance, alongside that of Thunder, Thal, and Franklin hints ever so lightly at perhaps some Def Leppard leanings.  As with the record’s other works though, that influence also soon becomes more secondary as the group’s prog leanings come more into play as the song progresses.  Thal’s heavy guitars, alongside Sherinian’s work on keyboard and Franklin’s bass work creates such a rich, heavy composition.  Thunder meanwhile adds just the right flare to the whole to complete the rich picture painted by this composition.  The juxtaposition of that heavier prog sound and style to the more 80s hair rock sounds here makes the whole yet another unique addition to the album.  It shows yet again, the variety offered throughout the record.  It also does just as well to put each musician’s talents on display, including those of the young noisemaker himself, Thunder.  When this composition is considered along with the other songs examined here, the album’s current singles and the rest of its entries, the whole proves itself to be another impressive offering from the veterans, Sherinian, Thal, and Franklin.  It additionally proves itself a strong start for Mr. Thunder.

Thomas Thunder’s debut album, The Pharaoh’s Temple is a positive offering from the up-and-coming drummer.  That is due to the talent shown by himself on the drums, and that of his fellow musicians.  The singles that the record has already produced go a long way toward supporting the noted statements.  Much the same can be said of the songs examined here.  All of those songs do their own part to display the group’s talents.  They prove Thunder could easily become one of the next big names in the prog community as he ages.  They also continue to cement the reputation of his more seasoned counterparts from one to the next.  When they are considered with the album’s remaining songs, the whole makes The Pharaoh’s Temple a presentation that will appeal to most prog rock and metal fans. 

The Pharaoh’s Temple is available now. More information on Thomas Thunder’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at https://thomasthundermusic.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Thomas Thunder Premieres New Album’s Second Single

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Audiences are getting another preview of Thomas Thunder’s new album.

The up-and-coming prog metal artist premiered his new single, ‘The Pharaoh’s Temple‘ Thursday. The song — which is available to stream and download through all major digital outlets — features guest appearances by Derek Sherinian (Platypus, Sons of Apollo, ex-Dream Theater), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Sons of Apollo, ex-Guns ‘N Roses) and Tony Franklin (The Firm, Jimmy Page).

‘The Pharaoh’s Temple’ is the title track and second single from Thunder’s forthcoming album, which is scheduled for release in September. An exact release date is under consideration. The premiere of ‘The Pharaoh’s Temple’ comes less than a month after Thunder premiered the album’s lead single, ‘Crystal Illusion.’

The musical arrangement featured in ‘The Pharaoh’s Temple’ is similar stylistically to that of ‘Crystal Illusion,’ but still boasts its own identity. Sherinian’s work on keyboard once again leads the way, showing his influence from his solo career and his work with Dream Theater and Sons of Apollo. Thal’s expertise on the guitar line cuts thought just as much while Thunder’s own performance on the drums proves once again that the teen drummer could easily be the next Mike Portnoy. Franklin’s work on bass adds its own touch with its fullness.

More information on Thomas Thunder’s new single is available along with all of his latest news at https://thomasthundermusic.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Heaven & Earth’s Latest LP Is Imperfect, But Still Enjoyable

Courtesy: Frontiers Music s.r.l.

More than two decades have passed since Heaven & Earth released its debut album, Windows to the World.  In the time since its release, the band has released four more albums, spending four years at the least and nine at the most between their releases.  The band will match the lesser of those spans Friday when it releases it fifth album, the aptly titled V.  Set for release through Frontiers Music s.r.l., this 12-song album is imperfect but enjoyable nonetheless.  To its positive is its overall musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The record’s production on the other hand proves somewhat problematic, but not so much so that it dooms the record.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of the record’s production.  All things considered, V is not a complete success, but nor is it a failure.

Heaven & Earth’s aptly titled fifth album, V is an interesting new offering from the band, which has spent more than two decades establishing itself.  The album proves itself worth hearing in large part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements exhibit a wide range of sounds and influences.  From hard rock to prog to general rock and even some 80s influence, the band offers audiences a wide range of content.  ‘Never Dream of Dying’ for instance, takes the band in a distinct prog direction.  The whole thing opens with some ominous keyboards and drums, belying that note, but as front man Gianluca Petralia’s vocals join the mix along with the guitars, the whole really develops that noted stylistic approach and sound.  Speaking in precise terms, the whole lends itself to comparison to works from Dream Theater’s early 90s albums, Images and Words and Awake.  On a completely different note, ‘Little Black Dress’ with its upbeat, bluesy arrangement, is more of an early 90s blues rock composition.  The staccato notes from the guitar, the equally tight time keeping, and pronounced bass line do well to make that clear.  It is the polar opposite of the arrangement featured in ‘Never Dream of Dying.’  This is proven even more as the song progresses and a catchy little keyboard line is added to the mix.  On yet another note, ‘Running From The Shadows’ – an even later entry in the record – lends itself to comparison to works from Deep Purple right from its outset.  It is just a solid rock composition, centered around its keyboards and drums in this case, again, just like so many works from Deep Purple.  Even the sound here is so similar to works from Deep Purple.  At the same time it still boasts its own unique identity.  Between these songs and all of the record’s other works, the whole makes clear that the musical content featured in the record is of the utmost importance to its presentation.

While the musical content plays an unquestionably important role in the album’s presentation, the album is not perfect.  There are some occasional issues with the record in terms of its production.  The issues stem from the balance of the vocals and the instrumentations.  Case in point is ‘At The End of the Day.’  The song’s arrangement features a lot of activity throughout its six-minute-plus run time.  The thing is that there is so much going on even in the softer, more contemplative verses, that the vocals sound washed out to a point.  To be more precise, there is a certain airy sense about the vocals throughout, requiring an even closer listen.  The more active moments require even more of an increase in that attention.  Much the same can be said of its predecessor, ‘Nothing To Me,’ the album’s penultimate track.  That slight issue with the imbalance is just as pronounced here.  Maybe it is just the speakers on this critic’s playback system, maybe not.  If not, then this is still something of a concern, especially being that is evidenced in the album’s opener, ‘Drive,’ and to a lesser extent, ‘One In A Million Man.’  So it is not like this is a confined concern.  It seems to happen at various points in the album, enough so that it is noticeable.  Again, maybe the issue stems from the speakers on this critic’s playback device.  However, that it only seems to happen at those given points says otherwise.  Even with this in mind, it still is not enough to make the album a failure.  The record’s sequencing works with the diversity in its musical arrangements to make the record even more appealing.

This record’s sequencing is important to its presentation because it keeps the album’s energy flowing throughout for the most part.  Even in slightly more relaxed moments, such as in the bluesy ‘Poverty’ and the funky Chickenfoot-esque ‘Flim Flam Man’ the album’s energy still remains stable as the songs are still moving even despite being slower.  The only point at which the record really pulls back is in ‘At The End of the Day.’  The reserved feel and tone of this song is in direct contrast to everything else featured in the record.  It honestly might have been better placed somewhere else in the album, considering this.  More specifically, it might have been better suited somewhere closer to the record’s midpoint, in order to break up the album, especially considering the general pacing.  It would have provided audiences more moment to catch their breath.  Either way, the sequencing is still relatively strong here even with this in mind.  Keeping that in mind along with the diversity in the songs’ arrangements, the album in whole still has much to offer audiences.  All things considered, these aspects and the mixed production makes V imperfect, but still enjoyable.

Heaven & Earth’s forthcoming album V is a valiant new offering from the band.  It does offer plenty for audiences to appreciate, such as the diversity in its musical arrangements.  That diversity includes arrangements that exhibit prog influence, as well as blues and pure guitar rock.  It is spread out throughout the album, ensuring that this aspect alone keeps audiences engaged and entertained.  While the diversity in the album’s arrangements offers plenty for audiences to appreciate, the songs’ production is slightly problematic.  There are points throughout the album when the vocals seem somewhat washed out by the instrumentation.  Thankfully this does not happen so much that it dooms the album, though it cannot be ignored.  The record’s sequencing works with the arrangements to add even more appeal.  That is because it keeps the album’s energy fluid throughout.  The only negative to the sequencing comes at its end, with the much more reserved closer.  It is the only truly misplaced addition to the record in regards to the sequencing, so it is also not enough to doom the album.  Keeping all of this in mind, the pros and cons present throughout the album make it imperfect but still enjoyable in its own right.  V is scheduled for release Friday through Frontiers Records s.r.l.

More information on V is available online now along with all of Heaven & Earth’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.heavenandearthband.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/officialheavenandearth

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/heavenearthband

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Charlie Benante Announces New LP Release Date, Specs

Courtesy: Megaforce Records

Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante will release his new album this spring.

Silver Linings is scheduled for release May 14 through Megaforce Records. While the record sees Benante as the primary figure in its presentation, he stressed during a recent interview, that the album is not a solo record.

“This isn’t a solo album,” Charlie said, “This is a record of my favorite songs done with some of my friends during a very dark time.  We found a shining light and this is the result of that light.  I was really happy that my musician friends came on board and helped make this record what it is.  I appreciate all of them, and they all did such a fantastic job.  Despite all of the darkness we’ve experienced this past year, there are ‘silver linings,’ that’s why I chose that title for the album.”

He added, the album’s creation came about through the advice of someone close to himself.

“Back in February of last year, with COVID and all the other B.S. that was going on, I was glued to the 24-hour news cycle on the TV and my phone, and I started to get really depressed,” he said.  My girlfriend said I needed to turn off the news and suggested I do something creative, whether it was art or drumming or writing new songs, and she was right.”

According to information provided about the 14-song record, it will feature an all-star cast of guest musicians and performers, such as guitarist John 5 (Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson), Alex Skolnick (Testament), and Corey Taylor (Slipknot).

Also featured on the new record are Run DMC member Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Rob Caggiano (Volbeat), and Ra Diaz (Suicidal Tendencies). The group recorded the song “Run-DMC Medley,’ which is one the songs featured in the album. The group premiered the song’s quarantine video in June 2020.

The whole of Silver Linings‘ track listing is noted below:

* “City of Blinding Lights”/U2 – Frank Bello, Mark Osegueda, Charlie Benante

* “Chloe Dancer / Crown of Horns”/Mother Love Bone – Mark Menghi, Mark Osegueda, Charlie Benante

* “Teardrop”/Massive Attack – Carla Harvey, Ra Diaz, Charlie Benante

* “Run DMC”/Run DMC – DMC, Rob Caggiano, Ra Diaz, Charlie Benante

* “Rhiannon”/Fleetwood Mac – Mark Menghi, Jennifer Cella, Randy McStine, Charlie Benante

* “Yer So Bad”/Tom Petty – Carla Harvey, Ra Diaz, Charlie Benante

* “Transylvania”/Iron Maiden – Snake Sabo, Frank Bello, Jon Donias, Charlie Benante

* “Presto Vivace”/U.K. – Ra Diaz, Alex Skolnick, Jordan Rudess, Charlie Benante

* “Bad Guy”/Billie Eilish – Ra Diaz, Charlie Benante

* “Jimmy James”/The Beastie Boys – Ra Diaz, Charlie Benante

* “All The Way”/KISS – PJ Farley, Joe McGinness, John 5, Charlie Benante

* “Mr Speed”/KISS – Joe McGinness, PJ Farley, Charlie Benante

* “Public Image”/Public Image – Hank Von Hell, Dave Brownsound, Jason “Cone” McCaslin, Charlie Benante

* “Funny Vibe”/Living Color – Ra Diaz, Corey Glover, Henry Flury, Charlie Benante

More information on Charlie Benante’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Website: https://charliebenante.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharlieBenanteOfficial

Twitter: https://twitter.com/skisum

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Liquid Tension Experiment Debuts ‘The Passage Of Time’ Video

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Liquid tension Experiment fans are getting their first full preview of the band’s next album.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘The Passage of Time‘ Friday. The song is the lead single from the quartet’s forthcoming album LTE3, which is scheduled for release March 26 through InsideOut Music.

The video features footage of the band members — Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Tony Levin, and Jordan Rudess — performing their respective parts to the song as images of multi-colored liquid plays over the noted footage. The musical arrangement that accompanies the video is everything that audiences have come to expect from Liquid Tension Experiment and from Dream Theater.

Two of the LTE’s members — John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess — are band mates in Dream Theater. Founding member and drummer Portnoy departed the band in 2010. To that end, it is understandable why this latest song sound stylistically so much like much of the body of work from Dream Theater.

Portnoy talked about the creation of ‘The Passage of Time’ during a recent interview with himself and his LTE band mates.

“‘The Passage of Time’ was the very first song we composed together when we reunited this past summer, he said. “It was so exciting to be back in a room creating together again after so long (22 years for all 4 of us and over 10 years for the 3 of us since being together in DT).  This serves as a great first taste for the listeners as it combines so many of the musical elements that makes LTE unique”

Petrucci expanded on Portnoy’s comments.

“This was the first song we worked on and when it was done, we all knew once again how amazing it was to be working together,” said Petrucci. “We knew we were on to something and that this was going to be a really amazing album. Nothing about the passage of over two decades could’ve done anything to change that. To me this song truly reflects the collaborative songwriting efforts of all four of us.”

Ruddess also shared his thoughts during the interview.

There is an undeniable chemistry that happens when the four of us are together,” he added. “Entering the studio and starting work on ‘The Passage of Time’ after 22 years literally gave me a whole new perspective on these important musical (and personal) relationships and the way time is so relative. We just jumped right in, it was like no time had passed at all, and we created a song that has so many of the elements that make LTE unique. Not a day has gone by since our last release when I wasn’t asked, “When is LTE getting back together again?” Now we can finally deliver, and I can’t wait for everybody to hear our creation.”

Levin put the accent to the discussion, noting there is more to come from Liquid Tension Experiment.

“From the murky depths of the lockdown, LTE has re-emerged, galvanized, dripping with ideas, and taking no prisoners,” said Levin. “‘The Passage of Time’ is just the beginning.”

More than two decades have passed since the quartet released its then most recent record Liquid Tension Experiment 2. That record, released in 1999, was followed up by the release of the album Spontaneous Combustion in October 2007 by three quarters of the group, which opted to call itself Liquid Tension Trio. Portnoy, Levin, and Rudess recorded the album while Petrucci and his wife welcomed their then baby.

The new album’s track listing is noted below.

Tracklisting:
 
1. Hypersonic (8:22)
2. Beating The Odds (6:09)
3. Liquid Evolution (3:23)
4. The Passage Of Time (7:32)
5. Chris & Kevin’s Amazing Odyssey (5:04)
6. Rhapsody In Blue (13:16)
7. Shades Of Hope (4:42)
8. Key To The Imagination (13:14)
 
Bonus Disc: Includes almost an hour of improvised jams.

The album will release on the platforms noted below. Pre-orders open now.

•Limited deluxe hot pink 3LP+2CD+Blu-ray Box Set (incl. a poster and 4 artcards, Blu-ray includes a 5.1 surround mix with visuals, and full band interview from the studio)
•Limited 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook
•Limited 2CD Digipak
•Gatefold black 2LP+CD
• Digital album (2CD)

More information on this and other titles from InsideOut Music is available along with the label’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.insideoutmusic.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/InsideOutUSA

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Hammerfall Drops The Hammer On 2020’s Top New Live Recordings List

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Live music and live music venues took a big hit this year thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  That goes without saying.  Music acts and venues from the independent level all the way up to the big names were force to put their live music plans on hold indefinitely as a result of the pandemic.  However a glimmer of hope rose this week when Live Nation head Joe Berchtold was quoted by major media outlets as saying that he believed live music would return by summer 2021.  One can only hope that Mr. Berchtold is right, and that when it does return, audiences will welcome its return rather than let the germaphobes control their minds.  Until then, audiences do have lots of live music to enjoy on CD, DVD and Blu-ray that was released this year.  Hammerfall released its latest live recording Live! Against The World this year.  Dream Theater also dropped its new live recording Distant Memories: Live in London.  Metallica even celebrated the anniversary of its landmark S&M show with the release of S&M2.  These are just some of the recordings that made Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Live Recordings.  They were joined by new live material from the likes of Myrath, The Rolling Stones, and Kamelot.

As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this collection features the Top 10 new titles in the given category and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Live Recordings.

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW LIVE RECORDINGS

  1. Hammerfall – Live! Against The World
  2. Jimi Hendrix – Live in Maui
  3. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – A Swingin’ Sesame Street Celebration
  4. Def Leppard – London to Vegas
  5. The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels Live
  6. Devin Townsend – Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1
  7. John Lee Hooker – Live at Montreux 1983 & 1990
  8. Waylon Jennings – The Outlaw Perrformances
  9. Myrath – Live in Carthage
  10. Kamelot – I Am The Empire Live from the 013
  11. Dream Theater – Distant Memories: Live in London
  12. Metallica – S&M2
  13. Delta Rae – Coming Home To Carolina
  14. Bush – Live in Tampa
  15. Dee Snider – For The Love of Metal

Up next from Phil’s Picks is one of the last three music categories of the year, Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Rock Albums.  After that will be the year’s top new hard rock & metal albums, and then last but not least, the year’s top new albums overall.  From there, it’ll be on to the DVDs and Blu-rays in all of their categories.  Stay tuned for all of that.

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.  

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

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.

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

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.

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.