‘Hypoxia’ Is An Imperfect But Enjoyable New Offering From Projected

Courtesy: Rat Pak Records

More than four years after the release of its sophomore album, Ignite My Insanity, hard rock super group Projected returned last month with that record’s follow-up, Hypoxia.  Released June 24 through Rat Pak Records (which released the band’s first two albums, too), the 13-song (14 in the expanded edition) is an intriguing new offering from the group, which is composed of Sevendust members John Connolly and Vince Hornsby, Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips, and Tremonti guitarist Eric Friedman.  That is due in large part to its featured lyrical content, which will be discussed shortly.  While the record’s lyrical content ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment, its musical content is sadly imperfect.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production works with the lyrical content and musical content together to make the record a presentation that while imperfect, is still worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia, the third studio recording from hard rock super group Projected, is an interesting new offering from the quintet.  Its interest comes in large part through its lyrical content.  The album’s title track, which comes almost halfway through the record, does well to support that statement.  The song is a social commentary about people’s divisive interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Connolly talked about the theme and how it related not only to the song but the album in whole, saying, “When the pandemic happened, everybody was on social media all of the time. People were going off on each other and the whole world got crazy. It was 100% hypoxia.  Everyone was talking and nobody was listening.  I had to get off socials awhile because it messes your mood up.” 

This discussion is addressed directly in the album’s title track as Connolly sings, “Why is it every time that I hear you lie/You’ve got nothing to say to make your case/Why is it all the time that I hear you whine/You’ve got no one to blame/You’re sucking out the oxygen/You’re wasting all my oxygen/You’re sucking out the oxygen/You’re wasting all my oxygen/Talking to you makes my head go numb/Bring on your halfwit/Come on, come on with it/Hypoxia/Trying to deal with you makes me come undone/Here comes some bulls***/Come on, come on with it.”  This is that back and forth that Connolly was addressing.  The commentary continues in the song’s second verse as Connolly continues, “How do you find a way to spew meaningless hate/Youv’e got something to say every day/How can you live this way?”  Again, this is that commentary.  Just as Connolly said, this type of behavior really has happened ever since the pandemic happened and sadly is still happening to this day.  To that end, this is a theme and commentary that is certain to resonate with plenty of audiences.

On another note, ‘Stain,’ which is another of the album’s singles, presents its own engaging lyrical content.  In the case of this song, it comes across as being less about social media and more of a familiar commentary about someone who is in a rough place in life. A crossroads so to speak.  This is inferred as Connolly sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Love stains an everlasting hope/Hate burns a never-ending hole/Preacher man told me I should pray to God/But heaven seems such a long way to go/So I pray/If I had one last chance to change it/I’d give the world my best to save it/If I had no regrets to stain it/I’d give my everything to love again.”  This simple verse pretty much comes right out and makes the inferred theme clear.  This is someone who wants to believe people and be happy but finds it difficult to do so because those hopes and dreams have been damaged so much, clearly.  The inferred theme is continued in the song’s second verse as Connolly sings, “Spit out just exactly what you want me to be/The road I travel’s getting darker day by day/I don’t want to hear your lies/Take everything I have to give/So I pray.”  Yet again this is someone being at the pivotal moment, just wanting to know want someone(s) want him/her to be.  This is a situation in which so many audiences have found and find themselves daily.  To that point, it is a theme that will resonate just as much with so many listeners, further showing the importance of the record’s lyrical content.

‘My Addiction’ is yet another example of that importance.  As the song’s title indicates, it is a song about dealing with addiction.  This is yet another familiar theme in so much rock and hard rock that encourages listeners to conquer their addictions.  Connolly sings in the song’s lead verse, “Somehow I found what’s mine/I’m not a victim of it/I’m gonna rise above it/Some moments lost in time/I try to push on through it/And now I never lose it/Now I never lose it/I push through the end/Till I cross that line/Because when they bury me/Won’t lose this time…”  The last two lines of the chorus are difficult to decipher sans lyrics, but more than enough of the verse and chorus is understandable that audiences can easily note that the song clearly is in fact that of conquering whatever addiction one has.  The song’s brief second verse follows in similar fashion adding its own touch to the whole.  In the end, Connolly sings, “I won’t let go” before singing again about pushing on through it all.  The whole here is a powerful statement about determination to get through “this endless race.”  It all collectively is just as certain to resonate with listeners.  When it and the other themes examined here are considered along with the rest of the record’s lyrical content, the whole makes even clearer why the lyrical content featured in the album is so important to its presentation.  It more than makes up for the slight shortcoming of the album’s musical content.

The arrangements that make up the record’s body are infectious.  There is no denying that aspect.  At the same time though, so much of what audiences get in this record is what listeners have gotten from Sevendust for so many years.  There is even a clear Alter Bridge influence late in the record in the form of ‘My Addiction.’  From the heaviness and harmonies in the guitar and bass lines to the very specific vocal styling in each song, the whole of so much of this record really is nearly identical, again, to so much of what Sevendust has crafted in each of its albums.  If any of the arrangements featured here were to be played on the radio without announcement from the on-air talent, audiences would very likely think this was content from Sevendust. Add in that this is hardly the first time that the band has taken this creative avenue just as in its existing catalog, and it hurts the record to a certain point that much more. That is not to say that the record’s musical content dooms it by any means but taking that safe route certainly did not do much to help the band grow in its latest outing.

While the album’s musical arrangements seem to counter a statement made by Connolly made during a recent interview that he felt the record showed evolution and growth from the band, the production of those arrangements helps to keep listeners engaged, even despite the overt familiarity.  The production that went into the record ensured that as heavy as so much of the record is throughout, each musician’s performance is expertly balanced by that of his band mates.  The richness of each performance comes together from one song to the next to make each composition so hard hitting and in turn enjoyable even despite being so overly familiar.  To that end, it still manages to make the album mostly successful when considered with everything else.  To that end, the album proves itself worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia, the latest album from hard rock super group Projected, is an intriguing new offering from the group.  The album’s interest comes in large part through its featured lyrical content, which is certain to resonate with audiences from one song to the next.  From social commentaries to more personal stories and more, the themes here are content that is completely relatable.  As much as the record’s lyrical content does to make it engaging and entertaining, the record’s musical content is a little more questionable.  Once again audiences get musical arrangements throughout that really are overly familiar.  For the most part what audiences get here are compositions that are more along the lines of content from Connolly and Hornsby’s main band, Sevendust, than anything that really takes any chances.  In other words, it once again finds the group largely playing it safe.  Yes, the arrangements are infectious and engaging, but it would have been nice to have heard something less familiar.  The record’s production works with the arrangements to ensure each arrangement, even being so overly familiar, is still fully immersive.  It does this by making sure the instrumentation is properly balanced in each work and that the vocals are just as clear as the instruments.  It puts the finishing touch to the whole.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered they make Hypoxia maybe not perfect but still worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia is available now through Rat Pak Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/ProjectedBand.

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Time Travelers & Bonfires Boasts Some Of Sevendust’s Best Music To Date

Courtesy:  7Bros Records/Asylum

Courtesy: 7Bros Records/Asylum/In De Goot Entertainment/Alternative Distribution Alliance

Veteran hard rock band Sevendust is one of the most highly revered bands in the world of rock and hard rock. That is because every one of its now ten full length studio albums has exhibited the band’s growth while maintaining a certain familiar heavy vibe throughout each record. The band’s latest album Time Travelers & Bonfires is no exception to that rule. Even being a largely acoustic release (there are some non-acoustic elements spaced throughout the record), the band has somehow managed to maintain that familiar heaviness that is a trademark for Sevendust’s albums. That is evident right from the album’s opener, ‘Come Down.’ It’s just as evident late in the album with the band’s re-worked acoustic take on ‘Denial.’ This re-worked classic is especially interesting as it presents a whole new emotional vibe in its acoustic state. It makes the song even heavier in an emotional manner of speaking. And then there is the album’s closer, ‘Black,’ which is also the band’s first major hit. This song is just as heavy in its acoustic form as it is in its original take. What’s more it’s just as heavy as the other acoustic re-works that populate this album. Together with the other noted songs (and those not noted for reasons of space), it completes an album that any diehard Sevendust fan will enjoy no less with each listen.

The members of Sevendust have managed to make each of the band’s now ten albums sound different from the previous release all while maintaining a certain heaviness throughout each record. The band’s latest release is no different in that aspect. Even on an album that is mostly acoustic, the band has managed to maintain that heaviness while creating something different, both on its new songs and those that have been re-worked. This is evident right from the album’s opener, ‘Come Down.’ This piece could have fit on any of the band’s previous albums comfortably. Lyrically, it’s such a bold statement. Front man Lajon Witherspoon sings defiantly in the song’s opening verse, “I guess for now/I’m gonna up and run away/My mind’s made up/I’m not the flaw/I’m not gonna fall in the grave/Just to prove you wrong.” The verse here is pretty cut and dry. It’s stating that some things just aren’t worth the fight and all the trouble. That’s made even more clear in the song’s chorus, as Witherspoon sings “You know you’re wrong/So come down/You must be out of your mind/We’re staying here forever, yeah/Until we’re all done throwing life away.” It’s such a bold statement. Yet, the balance of power and gentility in both Witherspoon’s vocals and the song’s musical side make it such a heavy song in its own right. Yet again it shows the band’s continued ability to make a song that has its own identity from previous works yet still has that familiar musical and lyrical heaviness; This, even though it’s not one of the band’s full-on pieces.

‘Come Down’ is one of six new tracks included on Time Travelers & Bonfires. Audiences will find that just as with ‘Come Down’, the other five new tracks included on this record also manage in their own way to build a different sound while maintaining Sevendust’s trademark heavy vibe. ‘Under It All’, the second of the new tracks proves that as it starts off with a short, but foreboding piano riff that conjures thoughts of Nine Inch Nails circa 1994. It’s just one more example of how the album’s new tracks each continue to exhibit the creativity and talent of Sevendust as a whole. Of course the band’s re-worked classics do their own part in making this album enjoyable, too. One prime example of that is the re-worked acoustic take on ‘Denial.’ The song, which was originally part of the band’s 1999 album Home, takes on a whole new life in its acoustic format here. The song’s original take is heavy and defiant. This take on the song is totally different. The mix of the acoustic guitars and Witherspoon’s vocals maintain the song’s anger. But there’s a certain increased emotional depth to the song with that mix. It gives the image of a man feeling anger and sadness all at the same time as he sings, “You never say what you mean/All I hear is scream/Never say that to me/Never say that to me/Wipe that s&*% off your face/Let’s not stop till we bleed/The more you spit out your mouth/The less I believe/Denial seems it had to come/Relied on me to say it all/Denial has left you all alone.” The song really does develop its own identity separate from its original take in this format. It could almost be considered a whole new song because of that wholly different emotion exhibited here. Once more, it shows the creativity and talent of the band. It is definitely one more of this album’s highest of points. It’s not the last of the album’s high points, either.

Sevendust exhibits so much creativity and talent throughout the course of the songs that make up Time Travelers & Bonfires. That has been shown already in the band’s re-worked acoustic take on ‘Denial’ and its new song ‘Come Down.’ Fittingly, Sevendust closes out its new album with the song that started it all in a re-worked acoustic take on ‘Black.’ There was no better final touch to this album than the band’s first hit. Whereas ‘Denial’ and other re-worked songs included on Time Travelers & Bonfires develop a whole new identity in their acoustic versions, this song is much the same in its acoustic take as in its original heavier take. That’s actually a good thing in the case of this song. One can’t help but wonder if it could in fact be better than the original take. It has just as much ferocity as the song’s original take. But there’s a certain different punch about it that puts it over the top in this setting. That punch makes it the perfect last impression for this record. It leaves the album feeling complete in every sense of the word. And in turn, listeners will feel after having heard this last dose of acoustic heaviness just why Time Travelers & Bonfires is one of Sevendust’s best albums to date.

Time Travelers & Bonfires is available now in stores and online. Audiences can even purchase the band’s new album at its live shows. Fans might even get to hear these acoustic recordings live as Sevendust makes its way across the country in support of its new album. The band is scheduled to perform live May 24th in El Paso, Texas. It wraps up May with dates in Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana before to Council Bluffs, Iowa to start off the month of June. The band’s most current tour schedule is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/sevendustofficial and http://www.sevendust.com. All of the latest news and more from the band is available on both websites. 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.

Sevendust’s New LP One Of 2013’s Best Hard Rock Records

Courtesy:  asylum/7bros/ada

Courtesy: asylum/7bros/ada

Sevendust is one of the most respected and beloved bands in the world of both mainstream and hard rock.  That’s because this fan favorite band has proven itself time and again over the course of eight albums and nearly twenty years.  Now with its ninth full length record, the members of this Atlanta, GA based band have proven yet again why Sevendust has stood tall while so many other bands have fallen by the wayside.

Black Out The Sun is everything that a Sevendust fan could hope for.  It opens deceivingly with a short near ninety-second instrumental that harkens back to its previous album, Cold Day Memory before launching into a sound that echoes across the band’s catalogue of albums in ‘Faithless.’  It is a solid, hard rocking opus that as loud and heavy as it is, is actually quite the positive and uplifting piece.  Front man Lajon Witherspoon sings in this first full opening number, “The burning ends/You come around/So step back for the answer/Lift yourself up slowly/It’s taken everything/Don’t you throw it away/The burning ends at least for now/So I resist/You go on/Days are lost/Can’t change a thing/Life hangs on for all days/But no real place to go/But I forgive/Life hangs on.”  This is a song of personal perseverance through all of life’s most difficult situations.  The lyrics are anything but cryptic here.  They are saying, “Don’t throw away life.  Don’t give up.  Things get tough, but don’t give up.”  The song’s musical side is a fitting “companion” of sorts as it helps serve as a motivator of sorts.  The aggression of the music helps to illustrate the feelings of perseverance being expressed lyrically.  Together, they make for a fitting opener to this album, and equally fitting transition from the band’s most recent album.

‘Mountain’ offers a similar vibe.  It is another of this album’s high points.  It has that same high energy music.  When set next to the song’s equally defiant lyrics, it becomes a song that one could easily see becoming a fan favorite both on the album and in a live setting.  It would be easy to envision a thousand fists and more pumping in the air while the audience sings along to this song.  Lyrically, it’s even more defiant than ‘Faithless.’  Witherspoon sings in this song, “First on top of the mountain/Push back/Drop down/Broke you to pieces/I’m on top of the mountain/Save name/Save face/Keeps all of me away from you.”  While it comes across as being a more personal piece, this chorus alone makes no bones about it.  It is aimed at someone in particular.  And really, who out there hasn’t felt like that at one point or another.  Even this critic has felt something similar to this more than once.  That ability of listeners to so easily relate to the song’s lyrical side and enjoy its musical side is sure to make this song another favorite.

For all the high energy and aggression exuded through Black Out The Sun, the band actually does pull back some in the form of the song, ‘Got A Feeling.’  It comes across as a very introspective piece, lyrically speaking.  Witherspoon‘s gentility as he sings, “I gave a poor man a dime or two/He saved my soul with gratitude/And gave his life/Yes he did” is moving to say the least.  The semi-country/western vibe of the guitars and the piano’s dark tones really serve to add a whole extra depth to the song.  It’s one that is certain to grow on listeners more with each listen.  Of course it’s just one of many other pieces that Sevendust’s legions around the world will enjoy on what is some of the band’s best work to date.  As a matter of fact, the band’s members have collectively crafted in Black Out The Sun a record that has found a place on this critic’s list of the year’s Best New Hard Rock albums.  And now, three other lucky Sevendust fans can own this hard rocking record for free next week just by “Liking” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks.  Three lucky fans will win copies of Black Out The Sun when they finish lyrics from the band’s previous records.  One song lyric will be posted there Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.  The first person to correctly finish the song lyric each day will pick up a copy of the album.  All three copies are signed by the entire band.

Those who don’t manage to pick up the band’s new album can still catch Sevendust live on the road as it tours in support of Black Out The Sun.  The band will be in Auget, IL tonight and then in Milwaukee, WI and Minneapolis, MN over the weekend.  Fans in North Carolina will also get to see the band when it makes a stop at Charlotte, North Carolina’s Fillmore Charlotte on April 23rd.  Even more tour dates are listed online on the band’s official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sevendust/25493613958 and the band’s official website, http://www.sevendust.com.  Fans can order the new album online at http://bit.ly/BlackOutTheSun.

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Sevendust Announces Album Release, Tour Dates

Veteran hard rock band Sevendust is set to release its ninth full length studio album titled, Black Out The Sun.  The Atlanta, GA based band has already released the album’s lead single, ‘Decay’ online at billboard.com.  The full album is currently scheduled to be released in stores and online Tuesday March 26th.  The single will start airing on radio stations across the country very soon.  The band has also allowed fans the chance to pre-order the new album and tickets to shows online.  Fans just have to go online to http://tixx1.artistarena.com/sevendust

 Ahead of the album’s release, the band—Lajon Witherspoon (vocals), Morgan Rose (drums/vocals), Clint Lowery (guitars/vocals), Vince Hornsby (bass/vocals), and John Connolly (guitar/vocals)—will hit the road in support of the new LP.  The band will be joined by Lacuna Coil, the reformed Coal Chamber, and Candlelight Red (which is touring in support of its recently released Morgan Rose produced EP, Demons)  at various stops throughout its tour.  The tour kicks off Saturday, February 2nd at Ziggy’s in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  The band will be performing alongside Lacuna Coil at this show, and those following through February 23rd.  Sevendust’s Eastern Carolina fan base will also get to see the band live as it will make a stop at Hooligan’s in Jacksonville, North Carolina Sunday, February 3rd.  Fans who don’t get to see the band in its first run through North Carolina will get on more chance later in April as the band is set to perform at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday, April 23rd. As an added bonus, not only will fans in Charlotte get to see the band perform alongside Lacuna Coil, but they’ll also get to see both Coal Chamber and Candlelight Red at this show.

To get all the latest news from Sevendust on its new album and its tour and to check out the band’s music, fans can go online to http://www.sevendust.com, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sevendust/25493613958, http://twitter.com/Sevendust, and http://www.youtube.com/user/officialsevendust.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.