Transatlantic Debuts ‘Looking For The Light’ Video

Transatlantic debuted the video for its latest single this week.

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Looking for the Light‘ Tuesday. The song and its video are the third from the band’s forthcoming album The Absolute Universe. The song’s premiere follows that of the album’s first two singles, ‘The World We Used To Know‘ and ‘Overture/Reaching for the Sky.’

The video for ‘Looking for the Light’ is an artistic presentation that features Transatlantic’s band members — Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse, Roine Stolt, and Pete Trewavas — performing their respective parts to the song in what is meant to look like a vintage 35mm film reel. the song’s musical arrangement is a mid-tempo composition that boasts the band’s familiar vintage prog sound, but with a slightly heavy kick.

The lyrical theme that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement was not explained in information distributed about the song. However, the song’s title and its content seem to hint at a message of people trying to get through difficult times in their lives, to a point.

The Absolute Universe is scheduled for release Feb. 5 through InsideOut Music on two separate editions, The Breath of Life (Abridged Version) and Forevermore (Extended Version). Pre-orders are open. The album’s track listing is noted below.

The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’
Available as:
Single CD Edition, Gatefold 2LP+CD, or Digital Album

Track-listing:
1.     Overture
2.     Reaching For The Sky
3.     Higher Than The Morning
4.     The Darkness In The Light
5.     Take Now My Soul
6.     Looking For The Light
7.     Love Made  A Way (Prelude)
8.     Owl Howl
9.     Solitude
10.  Belong
11.  Can You Feel It
12.  Looking For The Light (Reprise)
13.  The Greatest Story Never Ends
14.  Love Made A Way
 

‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’
Available as:
2CD Edition, 3LP+2CD Boxset, or Digital Album

Track-listing:

Disc 1:
1.     Overture
2.     Heart Like A Whirlwind
3.     Higher Than The Morning
4.     The Darkness In The Light
5.     Swing High, Swing Low
6.     Bully
7.     Rainbow Sky
8.     Looking For The Light
9.     The World We Used To Know

Disc 2:
1.     The Sun Comes Up Today
2.     Love Made A Way (Prelude)
3.     Owl Howl
4.     Solitude
5.     Belong
6.     Lonesome Rebel
7.     Looking For The Light (Reprise)
8.     The Greatest Story Never Ends
9.     Love Made A Way

More information on Transatlantic’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.transatlanticweb.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/TransatlanticMusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/transatlantic99

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.

The Flower Kings Debuts ‘Black Swan’ Video

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

The Flower Kings debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Black Swan‘ Tuesday. The song is the fourth single from the band’s latest album Islands, which was released in October through InsideOUt Music. Its premiere follows that of the album’s current singles ‘Morning News,’ ‘From The Ground,’ and ‘Broken.’

The video features the band performing its new single, each member of the band performing his respective part alone as the song plays. The song’s musical arrangement is a clearly classic rock-influenced composition. There are moments in the song that hint especially at a Queen influence. There are also some clear influence from the synth-driven sounds of the 80s.

Guitarist and founding member Roine Stolt talked about the song’s musical arrangement in a prepared statement.

“’Black Swan’ was a little piano melody I wrote around spring 2019 – I thought of it as ‘Polish melancholic’ or a ballet piano piece,” he said. “I did present a demo for the Transatlantic sessions but when it didn’t stick there I brought it along to the TFK ‘Islands’ session. Here it found its way in to the album and concept and with a slightly more dry guitar-driven sound and with nods to both The Beatles & Queen it became one of my favorite tracks. Hasse delivers some of his finest vocal on the album here.”

The song’s lyrical theme will appeal to listeners just as much as the song’s musical arrangement, with its metaphorical language.

Islands is available now. The album’s track listing is noted below.

Disc One (49:40)
1 – Racing With Blinders On 4:24
2 – From The Ground 4.02
3 – Black Swan 5:53
4 – Morning News 4:01
5 – Broken 6:38
6 – Goodbye Outrage 2:19
7 – Journeyman 1:43
8 – Tangerine 3:51
9 – Solaris 9:10
10 – Heart Of The Valley 4:18
11- Man In A Two Peace Suit 3:21

Disc Two (43:01)
1 – All I Need Is Love 5:48
2 – A New Species 5:45
3 – Northern Lights 5:43
4 – Hidden Angles 0:50
5 – Serpentine 3:52
6 – Looking For Answers 4:30
7 –Telescope 4:41
8 – Fool’s Gold 3:11
9 – Between Hope & Fear 4:29
10 – Islands 4:12

More information on The Flower Kings’ new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.roinestolt.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/TheFlowerKings

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.

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Liquid Tension Experiment Announces new LP’s Release Date, Art, Specs

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

The members of Liquid Tension Experiment have released more information about the group’s new album.

The band — Mike Portnoy, Jordan Rudess, Tony Levin, and John Petrucci — announced Monday, the album’s title, cover art, and release date. Additionally, the band announced the album’s track listing and platforms on which it will release.

According to information sent from InsideOut Music, which will release the record, it will follow the track of the band’s first two albums and be called Liquid Tension Experiment 3. The album is scheduled for release March 26.

Petrucci was upbeat as he talked about the album’s pending release.

“After over 20 years since the last time we recorded together, the four of us stepped into the studio and it was as if no time had passed at all!,” said Petrucci. “All of the magic that made the first two LTE albums so special was still there and we had such a great time making this record. I’m extremely proud of what we created together and can’t wait for everyone to hear it!”

Portnoy, who previously recorded with Petrucci and Rudess as a member of Dream Theater, expanded on his fellow musician’s comments.

“The best thing to come out of 2020 was this long-awaited reunion!,” he said. “And it was surely worth the wait as after all these years, the magic chemistry was still there and stronger than ever!”

In anticipation of the album’s release, the quartet released a teaser trailer last month. The 55-second trailer features a snippet of what can only be believed to be a portion of one of the songs that will feature in the album. It is accompanied by a psychedelic style visual that presents various fluids mingling with one another.

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

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 Jan. 22.

•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.

Devin Townsend Offers Audiences Another Of 2020’s Top New Live Recordings With ‘Order Of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1’

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Late this past October, famed prog-metal star Devin Townsend released his latest live recording Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1.  In an age when live music has been all but extinct save for a bunch of livestream  shows (which are still happening until real live music can finally return), this latest live offering from one of metal’s most respected names proves to be a welcome new option for audiences.  His first new live recording since the release of his 2018 recording Ocean Machine: Live at the Ancient Theater, this 16-song concert offers audiences plenty to appreciate, beginning with its set list.  This item will be discussed shortly.  Townsend’s performance (and that of all involved) of the set list adds to the recording’s appeal.  The recording’s production rounds out its most important aspects and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered, they make Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 a work that Devin Townsend’s fans will all welcome in their home libraries.

Devin Townsend’s latest live recording Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 is an enjoyable new offering from one of prog metal’s most respected figures.  That is due in part to the recording’s set list.  The 16-song set list lifts heavily from Townsend’s 2019 album Empath, featuring six of the album’s 10 songs along with songs from his 1998 album Infinity, his 2012 record Physicist, 2013’s The Retinal Circus, and 2009’s Ki.  Next to Empath, Ki gets the second most nods at four.  What is really interesting here is that what the set list offers audiences, is a look at his solo work and some of his work under the Devin Townsend Band and Devin Townsend Project banners.  While maybe not necessarily a career-defining set list, the set list does give audiences at least a good starting point for audiences in an examination of his wider body of work.  To that end, the set list featured in this concert, which in fact was part of Townsend’s tour in support of Empath, gives audiences plenty to appreciate in its own right.  The performance of that set list by Townsend and all involved adds even more to the recording’s appeal.

The performance put on by Townsend and his fellow performers is a statement in itself as to what makes this recording so enjoyable.  The group’s performance of ‘Genesis’ is a prime example of the importance of the performances.  The intensity of the group’s performance in the song’s heavier moments contrasts so well with the gentile nature of the performances in the song’s lighter moments.  The backing vocalists, with all of their harmonies, add their own positive touch to the performance, too.  Townsend’s focus, and that of drummer Morgan Agren, throughout the performance creates a solid base for the performance.  The whole makes the performance just one example of what makes the overall performance aspect here such a positive.

On another note, the group’s performance of ‘War’ proves to be its own example of what makes its performances so important to the overall aspect of the recording.  The song starts off light and easy, but gradually gets more intense as it progresses.  The energy exuded by the group as the song evolves and grows translates that energy change even more.  The fire that grows in Townsend and company as the song progresses is intense and will certainly keep audiences engaged.

Much the same that has been said of the performances noted here can also be said of the group’s performance of ‘Deadhead.  The intensity and focus is just as prevalent here as it is in any other performance of the song that Townsend has presented in concerts past.  Keeping that in mind along with the other noted performances and those that make up the remainder of the recording, the performance of the overall set list makes for even more entertainment and engagement for audiences.  It is everything that audiences have come to expect from Townsend and company.  It is just one more element of the recording that audiences will appreciate.  The recording’s overall production rounds out its most important elements.

The production presented in Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 is its own positive in that it brings together all of the video and audio so well.  Noting the rather intimate setting for the concert featured in this recording, it was obviously easy for the sound and video to be anything but what it was.  Luckily though, the result was surprisingly impressive, despite that aspect.  The audio was well-handed, taking into account the low ceiling and relatively tight setting.  Rather than let any performance become one giant wall of sound, every performer’s part is expertly-balanced with that of his/her counterparts.  At the same time, those behind the lenses made the most of the situation, showing audiences how tightly packed the audience was and even how little space Townsend and company had to work with even on stage.  The camera transitions and their pacing plays right into the songs’ energy, making for even more engagement and entertainment.  The whole gives audiences at home a fully enjoyable experience right from the warmth and safety of their own homes.  When this aspect is considered along with the concert’s overall set list and the group’s performance thereof, the whole becomes yet another impressive live offering from Devin Townsend that any of his fans will enjoy.

Devin Townsend’s latest live recording Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1 is another positive, engaging, and entertaining presentation from one of prog metal’s most respected and talented figures.  That is proven in part through its set list.  The set list does well to help promote Townsend’s latest album Empath.  It additionally does well to help serve as a starting point for audiences who are perhaps les familiar with Townsend’s extensive body of work.  That is because it also pulls from his Devin Townsend Project and Devin Townsend Band catalogs.  The performance of that set list by Townsend and company adds its own share of entertainment and engagement for audiences.  That is because they are everything that audiences have come to expect from Townsend (and his fellow performers).  The recording’s production puts the final touch to its presentation.  Between the audio and video, audiences have the best seat in the house.  What’s more, considering the confines of the concert hall, the production proves that much more appealing and puts the finishing touch to the recording’s presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, the recording in whole proves itself to be one of 2020’s top new live recordings.  It is available now.

More information on Devin Townsend’s upcoming streaming concert and his new live recording is available online along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.hevydevy.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dvntownsend

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/dvntownsend

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.

Liquid Tension Experiment Announces New Album Is Coming

Prog super group Liquid Tension Experiment will return in 2021.

The band — Mike Portnoy (drums), John Petrucci (guitar), Tony Levin (bass) and Jordan Rudess (keyboards) — will release its next album in spring. An exact release date for the as-yet-untitled record is under consideration. The album will release through InsideOut Music.

In anticipation of the album’s release, the quartet released a teaser trailer Thursday. The 55-second trailer features a snippet of what can only be believed to be a portion of one of the songs that will feature in the album. It is accompanied by a psychedelic style visual that presents various fluids mingling with one another.

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

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.

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

Website: http://www.insideoutmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://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.

Pop Singer-Songwriter’s New LP Is The Best Of 2020’s Best In Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Albums List

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

The musical universe spawned so much great music this year. From rock to rap to pop to country, jazz, and even family music, the musical universe gave audiences a lot to like about 2020.  For all of the entertaining and engaging music that was released this year some proved to be the best of its given categories.  Not all of that music could be the best of the best though.  Only certain records could obtain that title, and they come this year from a wide range of genres.  The Okee Dokee Brothers and their new album Songs For Singin’ are here among the best of the best in Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Albums of the Year.  They are joined by new albums from the likes of Sons of Apollo, Ricky Byrd, and The Devonns among others.  Topping this year’s list of the best of the best is Jessie Wagner’s new album Shoes Droppin’. 

As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, the Year’s top new albums list features the year’s Top 10 new albums and give honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Albums of the Year.

PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

  1. Jessie Wagner – Shoes Droppin’
  2. Chris Stapleton —  Starting Over
  3. Sons of Apollo – MMXX
  4. Yellowackets – Jackets XL
  5. U.D.O. – We Are 1
  6. Ricky Byrd – Sobering Times
  7. Deep Purple – Whoosh!
  8. The Devonns – The Devonns
  9. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts V
  10. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts VI
  11. Joe Bonamassa – Royal Tea
  12. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Songs For Singin
  13. The Tibbs – Another Shot Fired
  14. Ala.ni – ACCA
  15. Ben Harper – Winter is for Lovers

Now that all the music lists are done, it is on to the DVD and Blu-ray releases.  Up first in that side of things is the year’s Top 10 New Documentaries.  Stay tuned for 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.

Leprous Debuts New Single, ‘Castaway Angels,’ Companion Video; Front man Announces Livestream Concert Details

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Leprous has opened the weekend with a new single and video.

The band debuted its new single ‘Castaway Angels‘ and its video Friday. The single features a powerfully emotional musical arrangement that gently crescendos until it reaches its climax late in its nearly five minute run time.

Front man Elinar Solberg hits some powerful high notes in that climax that are so controlled, and in turn create their own notable impact. His band mates add their own touch to the song, paying full attention to dynamic and mood changes along the way. The result is a composition whose musical arrangement builds a solid foundation.

Solberg discussed the song’s creation in a prepared statement.

“This year we’ve all had to readjust our lives, do new things,“ the statement reads in part.
“Missed out on things we were supposed to do, and find new things to do. One day in the beginning of the corona outbreak in Norway I came to TorO’s (keyboardist/guitarist Tor Oddmund Suhrke) house with a song we were supposed to work on together. The problem was that I was already finished with the sketch we were supposed to be working on (which was later on thrown away as it wasn’t that good after all), so we just sat down to try to make something new. Him with the acoustic guitar, and me with my voice.“

During a quite short time, we came up with the main structure of what was later to become “Castaway Angels,” he added. “Very basic, very pure and no technology to distract us. Just the melody and the guitar. So once we got in the amazing Ocean Sound Recording near Aalesund, Norway we continued that approach with the full band. We recorded the song together in the studio (when we were not busy sitting in the Jacuzzi being in awe by the view) in one take, after jamming together for one evening. It’s so typical to get obsessed with details, perfectionism and layers. But here we just wanted to play together. Do something pure and simple. I’m very pleased with the result, and can’t wait for everyone to hear how we’ve been spending time together when we were supposed to be on tour,”

The lyrical theme of Leprous’ new single is a strong pairing with the song’s brooding but heavy musical arrangement. It comes across as a very bleak, introspective statement that is sure to appeal to goth fans as much as dark prog fans, with Soldberg singing in the song’s lead verse, “Reaching out for oblivion/Hiding here for now/Dreaming still about another end/I can’t look back anymore.” In other words, this is someone who is in that dark, brooding moment, but knows looking back is not the answer. Solberg adds in the song’s second verse, “Sitting here counting minutes still/I’ve found my place in solitude/Help me face this nothingness/For my vision is gone.” Again, here is one of those brooding, goth type lyrical themes. It works for the noted listeners, especially when considered with the song’s surprisingly beautiful musical arrangement. The whole makes the song a powerful new offering from Leprous.

The video for leprous’ new single features the band in studio recording its song. That footage is paired with scenes, such as waves flowing gently onto a beach as the sun sets; a waterfall, and a coastal (likely European) town to help heighten the emotion in the song’s musical and lyrical content. The cinematography is just as certain as the song’s musical and lyrical content to connect with audiences through the overall visualization.

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

In other news, Solberg is scheduled to host a stripped down, intimate performance of songs from Leprous’ catatlog at 2 p.m. ET Sunday through Leprous’ official Facebook page. The livestream performance will take place live at the “Telemark gallery” in Solberg’s childhood town of Notoddem. Tickets are available now.

Leprous released its sixth album Pitfalls last year. The album produced four singles, ‘The Sky Is Red,’ ‘Below,’ ‘Alleviate,’ and ‘Distant Bells.’

More information on Leprous’ new single, and video is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.leprous.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/leprousband

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/leprousband

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.

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

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Websitehttp://www.dreamtheater.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/dreamtheater

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/dreamtheaternet

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Transatlantic Announces New Album Release Date, Specs

Transatlantic will open the new year with a new album.

The prog super group is scheduled to release its fifth album, The Absolute Universe Feb. 5, 2021 through InsideOut Music. Its release will come more than six years after the release of the band’s then most recent album Kaleidoscope, which was released in Dec. 2014 through Metal Blade Records.

Drummer Mike Portnoy talked about the forthcoming album during a recent interview.

“We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes,” he said. “However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.”

Portnoy’s Transatlantic band mate Pete Trewavas expanded on Portnoy’s statements with his own comments.

“We did write some new music for the single CD,”he said. “What’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

Each presentation of Transatlantic’s album will be available on CD, digital, and LP. The platforms’ details are noted below.

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Special Edition CD Digipak

Gatefold 2LP+CD

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’

Special Edition 2CD Digipak

3LP+2CD Boxset

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster

According to information provided about the album, it is a concept record. Portnoy said of the move and the album’s concept, “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right? What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.”

Fellow Transatlantic band member Roine Stolt (also of The Flower Kings) added to Portnoy’s comments.

“We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” said Stolt.“The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

Initial tracking for The Absolute Universe started in September 2019 in Sweden. Portnoy had the following to say about the process.

“Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs,” he said. “Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

Stolt picked up where Portnoy left off.

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,”said Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete [Trewavas] and Neal [Morse] who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.”

More information on Transatlantic’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.transatlanticweb.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/transatlantic99

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.

Sherinian’s New Album ‘The Phoenix’ Burns Bright From Start To End

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Veteran keyboardist Derek Sherinian released his latest album Sept. 18.  The eight-song record, The Phoenix, continues the success that Sherinian has enjoyed over the course of his career.  It is a record that is sure to appeal to Sherinian’s fans and those of all of the projects in which he has taken part throughout the years.  ‘Dragonfly,’ which is one of the album’s singles, unquestionably supports the noted statements.  It will be discussed shortly.  The same can be stated of the album’s closer, ‘Pesadelo,’ which closes the album.  ‘Empyrean Sky,’ the album’s lead single, is one more example of what makes Sherinian’s new album such a strong new offering from Sherinian.  It is hardly the last example of the album’s strength, too.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the likes of ‘Them Changes,’ (another of the album’s singles), the intense prog-opus ‘Octopus Pedigree’ (one has to wonder if this was a tribute to Dream Theater bassist John Myung since his nickname is “The Octopus”), the album’s title track and its two other remaining entries, the album in whole proves itself to be another impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums and another successful offering from Sherinian.

The Phoenix, the eighth and latest solo release from Derek Sherinian, is another successful offering from the veteran keyboardist.  The 43-minute record’s body proves that from start to end.  There is not one bad song featured in this recording.  One of the album’s most notable compositions is its single ‘Dragonfly.’  The single is a fully acoustic composition that lends itself easily to comparison to works from the jazz-rock-fusion group Trioscapes.  That is evidenced through the stylistic approach of the piano, drums, and bass.  It is a very distinct, percussive style approach, that again, Trioscapes has taken on each of its current two albums.  The controlled chaos of Sherinian’s performance on the piano couples with drummer Simon Phillips’ steady time keeping and bassist Ernest Tibbs’ low end to make the song so enthralling.  The abstract picture that the trio paints with its work is just so rich, which will make the song stick in listeners’ minds even more.  Phillips actually noted in a recently released track-by-track discussion on the album, that the song almost featured some synthesizer work, but after discussion among the trio, the decision was made to keep the song fully acoustic.  That decision could not have been more right.  Listening through this song, audiences will agree that the inclusion of any electronics would have only ruined its presentation.  Add in that Sherinian noted in the same video that his piano line was composed in a very improvisational fashion, the song gains even more strength.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song is just one of the works that makes The Phoenix such an impressive new offering from Sherinian.  ‘Pesadelo,’ which closes out the album, is another notable addition to the record.

‘Pesadelo’ presents an arrangement that harkens back to Sherinian’s work with Dream Theater back in the late 1990s.  That is evidenced in its heavy guitars, drums, and even bass and keyboards.  There is a lot going on here, instrumentally, and everything is well balanced.  That itself says a lot about how much work went into the song’s creation.  Phillips addressed the heaviness and his own part in the song’s creation in the noted video, stating, “It was very challenging…I didn’t know what to play at first.”  The brainstorming that he did with Sherinian, guitarist Kiko Loureiro (ex-Megadeth) and bassist Tony Franklin paid off.  That is evidenced in the final product.  Phillips’ time keeping is precise, yet is so heavy in its own right.  He was not the only one who was challenged by the composition.  Franklin echoed Phillips’ thoughts as he, too, noted that Sherinian’s work “pushes me to my limits” in the aforementioned video.  He meant that in a complimentary fashion.  His low end couples with the work of his fellow musicians here to make the song so full and rich, ensuring again that prog-metal fans and Sherinian’s fans alike will appreciate this album.  Even as much as this song does to make The Phoenix burn even brighter, it still is just one more musical timber on the fire that is this album.  ‘Empyrean Sky’ is yet another positive addition to the album.

‘Empyrean Sky’ is anchored by Sherinian’s keyboard work, Philips’ time keeping and Jimmy Johnson’s bass line.  Armen Ra’s performance on the theremin adds its own touch to the composition, too, as does guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal’s performance along with the group.  The composition in whole lends itself to comparisons to work (both classic and modern) from the likes of Kansas and to works from Emerson Lake & Palmer.  It is a slight departure from the work that he has done with other acts with which he has recorded and performed.  That gives the song even more of its own identity.  On a related note, Sherinian himself said in the previously noted video, that he compared the work to songs from the jazz-fusion group Return to Forever.  Considering that comparison and the comparison to works from the likes of Kansas says a lot about the song’s appeal.  Phillips added to Sherinian’s statements, noting how relaxed the atmosphere was as he, Sherinian and guest guitarist (and Sherinian’s Sons of Apollo band mate) Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal recorded the song.  That relaxed vibe is reflected throughout this prog rock opus.  It shows even more why The Phoenix is such a powerful new offering from Derek Sherinian and is certainly not the last of the album’s standout tracks.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the likes of ‘Them Changes,’ (another of the album’s singles), the intense prog-opus ‘Octopus Pedigree’ (one has to wonder if this was a tribute to Dream Theater bassist John Myung since his nickname is “The Octopus”), the album’s title track and its two other remaining entries, the album in whole proves itself to be another impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums and another successful offering from Sherinian.

Derek Sherinian’s new album The Phoenix is another positive new offering from the veteran keyboardist and composer.  It offers listeners so much to enjoy from start to end.  That is due to the time and effort that went into composing, recording, and producing each song.  The end result of that time and effort is a record that sounds good and will leave listeners feeling good.  That has been evidenced by all three of the song songs addressed here.  Each song is its own unique composition, but still puts on full display, Sherinian’s talents as a musician and composer, and the talents of his fellow musicians.  Much the same can be said of each of the album’s other songs not addressed here.  When those songs are considered along with the songs directly examined here, the end result is an album that is just as good as Sherinian’s existing albums and as enjoyable as any other prog rock and metal album released so far this year.  The Phoenix is available now through InsideOut Music.

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

Websitehttp://www.dereksherinian.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Derek-Sherinian-Official-361589234010473/

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/DerekSherinian

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.