Battle Cry Is A Loud, Proud Live Statement From Judas Priest

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary a battle cry is a word, phrase, or sound that is shouted by soldiers in a battle.  It is also called a phrase or saying that is used to make people support an idea, a cause, etc.  Keeping this in mind it makes sense that Judas Priest would call its new live recording Battle Cry.  That is because this new recording–due out this Friday, March 25th on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray–will have home viewers chanting the band’s name as if it was a battle cry just as much as audiences that were in attendance at the taping of the concert featured in the new recording.  There is a lot to say to the positive about this new recording, especially on DVD and Blu-ray beginning with the show’s set list.  The main concert’s set list runs seventeen songs deep and roughly ninety minutes in time.  There are also three bonus songs included in the recording bringing the set list to a total of twenty songs and the feature’s total run time (trt in TV terms) to nearly two hours.  It is just one part of what makes this recording a success.  The band’s stage presence is another part of the experience that makes it so memorable.  In comparison to the band’s previous live recording Epitaph (2013) the band’s stage presence in this recording is noticeably more lively to say the very least.  It is a welcome change of pace.  Last but hardly least of note in this recording is its production values.  Between the sound, the camera work and the final product produced in post, the concert proves to be an experience that translates quite well on screen in those aspects.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  Collectively, they make this latest live recording from Judas Priest one of 2016’s top new live recordings.

Judas Priest’s new live recording Battle Cry is one of 2016’s top new live recordings.  That is because the band’s roughly ninety-minute performance will leave audiences chanting the band’s name like warriors chanting a battle cry.  One reason that it will impress audiences so much is its set list.  The set list runs seventeen songs deep and roughly an hour and a half.  It pulls songs from the band’s nearly five-decades-long career.  It includes the likes of ‘Breaking The Law,’ ‘Hell Bent For Leather,’ ‘Painkiller,’ ‘Redeemer of Souls,’ and a number of others from across the band’s expansive catalogue.  The concert’s DVD and Blu-ray platform features three extra performances as bonus features in the form of ‘Screaming For Vengeance,’ ‘The Rage,’ and ‘Desert Plains,’  That brings the set list to a total of twenty songs and the recording’s total run time to nearly two hours.  To be more exact, it comes to a total of roughly an hour and forty minutes.  In other words, audiences get a complete concert in this recording’s set list.  They get that concert without having to leave the comfort of their homes and without having to spend the exorbitant prices of admission, gas, concessions, and any other costs that go into attending a live show in person.  To that extent, the concert’s expansive set list is plenty of reason in itself for audiences and fans alike to add Battle Cry to their home music collections and DVD/BD libraries.  OF course it is hardly the recording’s only positive.  There is also the matter of the band’s stage presence here.

The set list that is featured in Judas Priest’s new live recording is in itself an important part of the recording’s whole.  That is because it doesn’t just focus on the band’s most recent album Redeemer of Souls.  Instead the band attempts to cover as much of its expansive body of work as possible over the course of its ninety minute run time.  The set list is just one important part of the recording that should be noted.  The band’s stage presence throughout this recording is just as important to note as the concert’s set list.  The band’s stage presence throughout this concert, originally recorded August 1st, 2015 at the annual Wacken Open Air Festival, translates quite well to home viewers.  Compared to the band’s stage presence in its last live recording, 2013’s Epitaph it is far more energetic here.  This applies not just to front man Rob Halford but to his band mates, too.  For those that have not yet seen Epitaph, the set list in that recording was impressive.  But the band’s stage presence just didn’t seem entirely there in that performance.  Halford and company didn’t really move around the stage much or even interact with the audience that much.  That left the band’s performance of its set list to shoulder the load so to speak.  The energy was there in the songs.  It just wasn’t entirely there in terms of the band members’ overall performance.  Flash forward to the 2015 Wacken Open Air Festival and audiences see a completely different band.  Halford and company come across as being rejuvenated here.  Halford at one point even pulls a Freddie Mercury impersonation of sorts as he gets the audiences of thousands to respond to his call as part of the setup to one of the show’s songs.  The way that he strutted across the stage and got the audience to respond conjures those thoughts.  Whether or not Halford was in fact trying to emulate the late great front man is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, that interaction between Halford and the audience is a nice touch to the show in its simplicity.  Ian Hill, Richie Faulkner, and Glenn Tipton all do their own part to add to the band’s stage presence as does drummer Scott Travis.  All four men exhibit their own energy in their performances throughout the concert.  Again by comparison the difference is clearly visible.  And together with Halford’s energy, the band members’ collective power throughout the show makes the concert that much more enjoyable for audiences and fans alike.  Of course one cannot deny the role that the work of those in the show’s production crew and those involved in the concert’s post production played in the translation of that stage presence to home viewers.  Their collective work rounds out the recording’s most important elements.

The set list featured in Judas Priest’s new live recording and the band’s performance of said set list both play their own important part in the recording’s presentation.  Collectively, they make the recording a joy for audiences and fans alike.  The songs cover a respectable swath of the band’s extensive catalogue.  The band’s performance of that set list obviously captured audiences in attendance at the concert’s taping and kept them completely engaged from start to finish.  It will have the same impact on home viewers, too.  Speaking of those home viewers, a big reason that the concert in whole will keep home viewers just as engaged is the work of those that captured the concert and those that handled it in post-production.  The camera crew and those behind the boards did an exceptional job of capturing the band’s energy as it worked its way through its set.  The camera crew captured the whole thing from quite a few angles to say the very least.  There are various shots throughout the show from the vantage point of the audience.  There are just as many shots from the stage, too.  Audiences get to get up close and personal so to speak with Scott Travis more than once.  And needless to say the effect of those shots is in itself powerful as he drives the band through each song.  Audiences also get plenty of different angles of Halford and company as well as shots of the immense crowd in attendance.  The whole of the footage results in an experience that will keep home viewers completely engaged in the show from beginning to end.  Those behind the concert’s audio mix are to be commended just as much as those behind the cameras.  That is because just as indoor concerts pose their own challenges, so do outdoor shows.  And being that this festival is as massive as it is, the challenges had to have been great to say the very least.  Sound has the capability to spread out in all directions both from the stage and from the audience.  Luckily, those behind the boards balanced everything with the utmost expertise throughout the show thus making the experience all the more enjoyable.  The end result of the production crew’s work in whole is a concert experience that audiences and fans alike will want to take in time and again.  For all of their efforts, those that handled the concert’s post-production are to be commended in their own right, too.  That is because their efforts paid off just as much as those of the crew that captured the concert in its original taping.  Those that edited the original concert in preparation for its release assembled the original footage in a way that assured a solid translation from live to screen.  They also balanced the concert’s audio levels with the same expertise, giving the concert a sound that demands it be heard on a surround sound home theater system.  That is not to say that it can’t be enjoyed on a TV by itself.  But it can be said that a home theater system offers the best experience in terms of the concert’s sound.  Again that is thanks to the work of those the handled the concert’s post-production.  Their efforts and those of the concert’s original production crew come together in the end to make the overall experience one that is just as good as being there in person if not better since it’s in the comfort of audiences’ own homes.  And together with the show’s set list and the band’s performance of said set list, the recording in whole proves to be an easy, early candidate for any critic’s list of 2016’s top new live recordings.

Judas Priest’s new live recording Battle Cry is undeniably one of this year’s early picks for the year’s best new live recordings list.  The reasons for this are plenty, too.  The roughly ninety-minute set list features a number of the band’s biggest hits from its nearly five decades-long career.  The band’s stage presence throughout that time is just as important as it shows a band that still has plenty left in its collective, proverbial tank.  That is clear in the band’s performance of each song.  The concert’s production values both in regards to the original taping and the concert’s post-production are just as much to applaud as the band’s stage presence and the show’s set list.  The concert’s production values round out its most important elements.  That is because without the expert work put into bringing the concert home the concert wouldn’t even be worth watching.  Thankfully though, that isn’t the case.  Thanks to its top notch production values, the band’s performance and its set list make this recording a concert that audiences and fans alike will want to experience and should experience.  All things considered, Battle Cry is a recording that will leave audiences and fans alike proudly chanting the band’s name along with those that were in attendance at the show’s original recording.  They will agree as they chant the Judas Priest battle cry that this recording is one of 2016’s best live recordings.  It will be available in stores and online this Friday, March 25th via Epic Records.  More information on Battle Cry is available online now along with all of Judas Priest’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.judaspriest.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/judaspriest

 

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Rocker’s Debut LP “Hard To Bleed” Is Hard To Hate

Courtesy:  Phill Rocker

Courtesy: Phill Rocker

Late last month Phill Rocker (yes, that’s really his name) released his debut album Hard To Bleed. The independently released album boasts fifteen tracks all of which are a good fit for any fan of big riffs and even bigger hair. From start to finish Rocker exhibits influences from the likes of Judas Priest, Poison, Ozzy Osbourne, and so many others from that bygone era of rock. There are even some old school style power ballads thrown in for good measure to round out the record. The combination of those ballads and the album’s more up-tempo pieces makes Hard To Bleed a record that is hard to hate.

Phill Rocker’s debut album Hard To Bleed is a record that is hard to hate. Yes, that bad pun was fully intended. The fifteen-song record (there is also a deluxe edition that includes two bonus songs) is so hard to hate because over the course of its roughly sixty-seven minute run time it offers rock purists plenty to appreciate what with its classic rock sound and equally interesting lyrical content. The album is anchored by the album’s up-tempo, near mid-point ‘Burning in the Fire.’ It has already been noted that the songs featured in this record boast a noticeably old school rock sound. The sound in question takes listeners back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair. That is no different in the case of ‘Burning in the Fire.’ Rocker and company waste no time getting things moving in this song. They jump into it right from its opening measures. Drummer Brian Tichy (Something Unto Nothing, Velvet Revolver, Ozzy Osbourne) is on point in his time keeping here. The dual guitar attack of Ricardo Fernandes and Miguel Aguiar adds even more impact to the song. That is because it instantly conjures thoughts of classic Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, and even Judas Priest. Rocker’s own vocal delivery here boasts just as much power as those that have come before. The song’s musical side is just one part of what makes the song a solid anchor for Rocker’s new album. Rocker wrote the song’s lyrics as well as handling vocal duties. Rocker’s lyrics come across as a commentary of sorts as he sings in the song’s lead verse, “Can somebody hear this scream of mine/Is the world goin’ blind/Hard to carry on/Without wiseman guidance/Can’t see/Nothing but dreams of foregone times/Facing the final frontier/I’ve faced this road before/Innocence calms down/Before the storm/The hurt I know is true.” Later in the song’s run Rocker asks, “Will I/Who else can I call/What’s done is done/It’s written in the stars.” In examining the song in whole Rocker comes across as making a statement about staying strong even in the most uncertain times with such lyrics. Of course that is just this critic’s own interpretation. It could be completely off the mark. Hopefully it isn’t. but the possibility is there. When that possibility is coupled with the song’s forward-driving musical content, the two together really build their own fire that will spread to listeners when they hear the song for themselves. Keeping that in mind, it is clear in the end why ‘Burning in the Fire’ is this record’s anchor. It is just one of the many songs in this album that can be cited as an example of what makes Rocker’s debut album hard to hate. The ballads that are included in this album do just as much to make it worth at least one listen. That is exemplified even later in the album’s run in the form of the bass-driven ballad ‘How Does It Feel.’

‘Burning in the Fire’ is a solid anchor for Phil Rocker’s debut album. That is thanks to the combination of its classic rock-influenced sound and its equally thought-provoking lyrical content. As solid as it is in the grand scheme of the record it is only one example of what makes it a *rock* solid record. ‘How Does It Feel’ is another good example of what makes Rocker’s new album worth hearing. Unlike ‘Burning in the Fire’ this song is a classic ballad style composition. From Rocker’s own vocal delivery to Ricardo Fernandes’ gentler melody to [Brian] Tichy’s own work behind the kit, this song is a direct throw back to the power ballads of the late 80s and early 90s. In regards to its lyrical content, the song’s lyrics will have listeners just as engaged. Rocker writes in this song, “This conspiracy doesn’t help to see my destiny/Fighting this battle/I’m more than you can be/Psycho maniacs/Rule what you can/Ask for what you need/That’s where I begin/Straight to the unknown.” This comes across as someone dealing with some inner personal issues. And the song’s chorus would seem to hint even more at that as Rocker writes, “Paranoia/In a troubled mind/Agonized by a wounded heart/Self-inflicted victim/In this unfair world/Is it real/What’s going on/How does it feel to walk away/How does it feel to taste the pain/How does it feel to go away/One more day.” The song’s final verse is just as intriguing as Rocker writes about a figure suffering from a number of emotional issues that have essentially crippled said figure. It is definitely an interesting piece that is certain to leave listeners talking just as much as ‘Burning in the Fire.’ Audiences can hear the song for themselves now via Rocker’s official website at http://www.phillrocker.com. It’s just one more example of what makes this record a record worth hearing at least once. It still is not the final example of what makes the album stand out. The album’s opener, ‘Wasted Generation (In Me) is one more example of what makes Hard To Bleed hard to hate.

Phil Rocker offers quite a bit for rock purists in his debut album; so much so that the album proves rather hard to hate. That is obvious in the album’s hard rock anchor ‘Burning in the Fire’ and its polar opposite ‘How Does It Feel.’ While both songs are clear examples of what makes this record worth hearing they are not the only songs that could be cited as examples of the record’s strengths. ‘Wasted Generation (In Me),’ the album’s opener, is one more of the album’s strengths. Much like ‘Burning in the Fire’ Rocker and his fellow musicians waste little time getting things going here. There is a little bit more set up here but very little at the most. Luckily for listeners it isn’t one of those “slow boil” setups that takes its time building up to the song’s real body. Far too many bands today take that route. And it is anything but original or enjoyable. Keeping that in mind, the overall musical composition of ‘Wasted Generation (In Me),’ by itself makes the song both an enjoyable work in itself and an equally solid first impression for Rocker. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to its overall composition as its musical side. Rocker writes in the song’s second verse, “Confused and alone/Left on my own/I can’t find a place to rest/My mind’s so stressed/In between now and then/Yeah, here I am/I feel that I am always somewhere.” He goes on to write, “Come and have a look/Seek what you want/Come and have a look/Seek what you need/Come and have a look/You will find/A wasted generation in me.” The song feels, at least in regards to its lyrical content, as if it comes from the point of someone in a difficult emotional spot. It is almost as if the figure in this song is looking back on certain events of the past and comparing those events to the present, thus leading to the revelations presented here. What is really interesting about all of this is that when set against the song’s musical content there is quite a separation between the two. One would expect considering the song’s lyrical content that this song’s musical content would not have as much fire as it does. Yet somehow in its own way it proves to work just as well alongside that content. Because it does (and surprisingly so) it proves in the end why it is yet another solid first impression for Rocker and another example of what makes his debut worth the listen. Together with the previously noted songs, all three offerings show collectively that not only is this record just worth the listen but they also make this record hard to hate. They are not the only songs that could be used to prove that argument either. There are twelve other songs include in this record that could be cited in making both arguments. Audiences can hear every one of those songs for themselves when they order Hard To Bleed for themselves.

Hard To Bleed is a good first effort from Phill Rocker. The album proves this time and again throughout the course of its fifteen songs and sixty-seven minutes. From the hard rocking anchor that is ‘Burning in the Fire’ to the more melodic classic ballad style ‘How Does It Feel’ to the equally solid opener ‘Wasted Generation (In Me)’ there is plenty for any purist rocker to enjoy. That includes the other dozen songs not directly noted here. All things considered Hard To Bleed proves in the end to be a good first effort from Phill Rocker and an album that is both worth hearing at least once and in turn hard to hate. It can be ordered online now via Rocker’s official Bandcamp website at http://phillrocker.bandcamp.com/releases. More information on Hard To Bleed is available online now along with music videos, news, and more at:

Website: http://www.phillrocker.com

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

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Judas Priest Announces New Live Recording On The Way

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Judas Priest has a new live recording on the way this spring.

The veteran hard rock outfit announced this week that it will release Battle Cry its latest live recording on Friday, March 25th. Originally recorded on August 1st, 2015 during the band’s performance at the annual Wacken Open Air Festival the recording will be presented on CD/DVD/Blu-ray. The set’s CD platform features fifteen songs that span the band’s nearly five-decades-long career. Those songs include: ‘Dragonaut,’ ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,’ ‘Victim of Changes,’ ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ and many others. The concert’s DVD and Blu-ray presentation each feature their own equally extensive set list. It includes the likes of ‘Turbo Lover,’ ‘Breaking The Law,’ ‘Living After Midnight’ and a number of others also included in the package’s CD platform. There is even a trio of songs recorded at a separate performance included as bonus material. The full track listing for both the CD and DVD and Blu-ray presentation is noted below. Audiences can view a trailer for the upcoming concert recording online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZH9ptg58ck.

 

Battle Cry CD sequence:
1.     (Intro) Battle Cry
2.     Dragonaut
3.     Metal Gods
4.     Devil’s Child
5.     Victim of Changes
6.     Halls of Valhalla
7.     Redeemer of Souls
8.     Beyond the Realms of Death
9.     Jawbreaker
10.  Breaking the Law
11.  Hell Bent For Leather
12.  The Hellion
13.  Electric Eye
14.  You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
15.   Painkiller

Battle Cry DVD/Blu-ray sequence:

1. (Intro) Battle Cry
2. Dragonaut
3. Metal Gods
4. Devil’s Child
5. Victim of Changes
6. Halls of Valhalla
7. Turbo Lover
8. Redeemer of Souls
9. Beyond the Realms of Death
10. Jawbreaker
11. Breaking the Law
12. Hell Bent For Leather
13. The Hellion
14. Electric Eye
15. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
16. Painkiller
17. Living After Midnight

Recorded live on August 1st, 2015 at Wacken Festival, Germany.

BONUS TRACKS
18. Screaming for Vengeance
19. The Rage
20. Desert Plains

 

Battle Cry will be released in stores and online on Friday, March 25th via Epic Records. Pricing information for the CD/DVD and CD/BD packages will be announced soon. More information on this recording is available online now along with all of Judas Priest’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.judaspriest.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/judaspriest

 

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.

Times Of Pride And Peril Is Another Welcome Return For Holy Grail

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Holy Grail. Has. Returned. Three years after it became one of the metal community’s biggest names with its sophomore album Ride The Void, the Los Angeles-based quintet has returned with an album in Times of Pride and Peril that builds even more on the fame and respect earned through its previous recording. The ten-track album does so by taking the old school, metal sound established on Ride The Void and expanded on it, including a more modern hard rock sound to its body. The combination of those two sounds here makes Times of Pride and Peril not just a solid follow-up to Holy Grail’s breakout sophomore album but also an album that is undeniably one of 2016’s top new hard rock and metal albums. Times of Pride and Peril is currently slated to be released in stores and online on Friday, February 12th.

Holy Grail’s latest full-length studio recording is a solid follow-up to its 2013 breakout sophomore album Ride The Void. It is an album that audiences will agree in hearing its ten total tracks that it is unquestionably one of 2016’s top new hard rock and metal albums. That is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Crystal King.’ This song shows the band–James-Paul Luna (vocals), Eli Santana (lead guitar), Alex Lee (lead guitar), Tyler Meahl (drums), and Blake Mount (bass)–picking right back up where it left off with Ride The Void. The band opens the song with a short, building crescendo before launching full force into the song with Santana, Lee, Meahl, and Mount leading the way. The old school speed metal sound established by the band in this song once again harkens back to the heyday of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and others of that ilk with its dual guitar attack and equally expert time keeping by Meahl. When Luna joins in, his razor-sharp vocal delivery instantly conjures thoughts of legendary Judas Priest front man Rob Halford and Fozzy front man Chris Jericho. In other words Luna’s vocals make him one of metal’s next big true singers if not one of its current biggest. The song’s lyrical content sits against that powerhouse musical content to make clear why ‘Crystal King’ was the perfect choice to open Holy Grail’s new album and why it is also a prime example of just what audiences have to look forward to in this new record. Luna sings here, “It’s just another day out on the battlefield/Proclaiming victory/We conquer all/We’re on the top now/It’s time to strike/We must defend the crown/At any given price/Our dominion never ends/It keeps rolling on and on/And together we’ll ascend/To heights of grandeur/Majesty abound/The taste of glory/Is holier than thou/A heart of valor/Frees a mind of doubt/But if you always win the fight/Do you know wrong from right?” This plays right into the overlaying topic of the band’s new album. The topic in question is that of the rise and fall of an empire. That is not necessarily referencing one empire but different ones. That is especially clear as Luna sings, “The taste of glory/Is holier than thou/A heart of valor/Frees a mind of doubt/But if you always win the fight/Do you know wrong from right?” This comes across as Luna commenting on nations that patrol the world and play world police. Those nations that control everything around the world militarily tend to think that they are in the right. This happens even when there might be some shades of grey in the ethics or moral ground of their actions. This can be argued even more strongly as Luna sings in the song’s second verse, “We got it/We made it/We’ll overthrow/Once we’ve accepted/All the ones that died/We’ll repay the mercy when the enemy’s been crucified.” It is a very telling verse. It comes across as a commentary about brutality begetting brutality–accepting the death of others for the “greater good” and the violence aimed at others in the process. It furthers that discussion on the blind, perhaps clouded mindset of those that have been made to believe their actions are for the good of a whole people. It is a really thought-provoking concept and in turn quite the way to open the band’s new album. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via YouTube as the band has just premiered its lyric video online. It can be viewed online via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVn4ENCIy1w.

‘Crystal King’ is a powerful first statement from Holy Grail in its return to the top of the mountain. It is not the only powerful, noteworthy statement from the band either. ‘No More Heroes,’ which is another of the album’s singles, is another powerful, hard-hitting addition to Times of Pride and Peril (TOPAP as it will henceforth be known here). Luna noted of this song in a recent interview that it “is about the evils of tyranny and self-will, where only strength in numbers can persevere.” To be more precise he noted that the concept behind that song is that it is a commentary about the events going on around the world today as a result of tyranny. “Conspiracy or not, heavy s*** is going down in the world, he said, “and we can’t survive battling it alone.” That discussion is illustrated through the song’s lyrical content in which Luna sings, “We’ve reached the point where domination is the law/We’re on the brink of global darkness/No life is worthy/But a pawn in our noble cause/Stomp out the feeble/And the worthless.” While these words sound familiar, it should. It was the view of the brainwashed men who fought for the Nazis in WWII and even now today of those that take innocent lives in the name of terrorism. Again, it illustrates exactly what Luna was saying in his discussion. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “A savage feast upon the weak at any cost/No sign of mercy for the masses/How about the dignity you had so long ago/Is blood upon your hands as gracious?” The message about the familiar, distressing state of the world in this song is in itself an important part of the song’s whole. That content, set against the song’s power metal musical content, makes the song in whole yet another impressive addition to the album and equally impressive example of what audiences have to look forward to in Holy Grail’s new album. Audiences can hear this song for themselves online now at http://noisey.vice.com/blog/holy-grail-heroes-premiere.

Both ‘Crystal King’ and ‘No More Heroes’ are both key examples of just how much Holy Grail has to offer audiences in its third full-length studio recording. That is thanks to the mix of the songs’ musical and lyrical content. Both songs continue to exhibit the NWOBHM influence on the band in terms of their musical content. In regards to their lyrical content, both equally powerful yet differing statements about what has and continues to happen to the world militarily and politically. While this all works collectively to make both songs important parts of the album’s whole, both songs are hardly the only examples of what audiences have to look forward to in this record. ‘Those Who Will Remain’ is yet another important example of what makes Holy Grail’s new album a welcome return from the band. What makes this song stand out among the album’s songs is that it boasts more of a modern rock sound than most of its counterparts. If one were listening to this song without knowing it was Holy Grail, one would almost think that one was listening to Fozzy. The similarities are that close between the two bands here. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. It shows that the band has branched out musically in this record. And it isn’t the only song that exhibits that either. That is a story for another time, however. Staying on this song, its musical content is just one part of what makes it stand out so strongly. Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical content. Luna seems to sing about self-determination here as he sings, “how do you choose between life and suicide/I’ll try this anyway/And I couldn’t cope…Ready to fight/I will accept my fate/I’ve suffered enough/It’s time to change/Dark in the night/In our eternal flame/The freedom is yours/All the same/To those who will remain.” He goe on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Take it or leave it/The enemy’s nearing/Hungry to feed on the weak and the weary/Marching in stride is the secret to survive/Rise to the top with a fist full of fury…Carry the torch/Just to keep yourself alive.” Everything taken int consideration here, the song in whole could be interpreted as Luna singing about not giving up in life, no matter the difficulties that one faces, be they physical or emotional. Saying that he would rather “walk the maze than die alone” and that “I’ve suffered enough/It’s time to change” support that argument. Of course that is just this critic’s own interpretation. It could, as always, be completely incorrect. So it should not be taken as the only interpretation of the song’s lyrical content. Right or wrong, it plays against the song’s equally powerful musical content and in turn makes the song in whole one more clear example of just what makes TOPAP such a welcome return for Holy Grail and also for the metal and hard rock community in whole. Together with ‘Crystal King,’ ‘No More Heroes’ and the rest of the songs not directly noted here, the whole of TOPAP shows in the end to be a record that is not just a welcome return for the band and its audiences but also a record that is easily one more of this year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Holy Grail’s latest full-length album is a welcome return both for the band and for its audiences. That is exhibited from the album’s opener ‘Crystal King’ right to its final number ‘Black Lotus.’ From beginning to end the mix of old school heavy metal and modern hard rock couples with lyrics that will get any listener thinking to make a record that will easily become a favorite of any true metal head. It will be available Friday, February 12th in stores and online. It can be pre-ordered online now via iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s official Bandcamp page. It is also available in a series of limited edition vinyl options. Those options include: Black, Limited-Edition Orange, and Limited-Edition Marble variants. Each vinyl copy of Times of Pride and Peril comes in a gatefold package that includes a color poster/lyric insert and download card. The band will hit the road next month in support of TOPAP beginning February 11th in San Antonio, TX. The forty-date-plus tour also includes a performance at The Milestone in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday, February 23rd. The band’s current tour schedule is listed in whole below.

 

2/11 San Antonio, TX – Fitzgerald’s ^
2/12 Houston, TX – Scout Bar ^
2/13 Dallas, TX – Trees ^
2/14 Little Rock, AR – Juanita’s ^
2/16 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade ^
2/17 Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits ^
2/18 Orlando, FL – Backbooth ^
2/19 St. Petersburg, FL – The State Theatre ^
2/20 Ocala, FL – O’Malley’s Alley
2/22 Greenville, SC – Gottrocks
2/23 Charlotte, NC – Milestone #
2/24 Virginia Beach, VA – Shakas #
2/25 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie #
2/26 Boston, MA – Once Ballroom #
2/27 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus #
2/29 Burlington, VT – Nectars #
3/1 Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle #
3/2 Montreal, QC – Foufounes Electriques #
3/3 Toronto, ON – Hard Luck #
3/4 Detroit, MI – Berserker Fest #
3/5 Chicago, IL – Reggies #
3/6 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon #
3/7 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock #
3/8 Fargo, ND – The Aquarium #
3/9 Winnipeg, MB – The Windsor Hotel #
3/11 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina #
3/12 Edmonton, AB – Brixx #
3/13 Calgary, AB – Palomino #
3/14 Kamloops, BC – The Office #
3/16 Vancouver, BC – The Biltmore #
3/17 Seattle, WA – El Corazon #
3/18 Spokane, WA – The Pin #
3/19 Portland, OR – Panic Room #
3/20 Bend, OR – Volcanic Theatre Pub #
3/22 Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst #
3/23 San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside #
3/24 Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room #
3/25 San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick #
3/26 Phoenix, AZ – Pub Rock #
3/28 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Bar #
3/29 Denver, CO – Marquis Theater #
3/30 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room #
4/1 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter #
4/2 Newport, KY – Southgate House #

^ with Marty Friedman
# with Black Tusk

More information on Holy Grail’s upcoming album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://www.holygrailofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/holygrailband

 

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Audiences Actually Saw Some Real Worthwhile Music Re-Issues In 2015

In the world of the music business there are few releases that are more ardently frowned upon than the annual crop of album re-issues. From one genre to the next every genre sees its own share of re-issues released each year totalling some years close to a hundred if not more. That is counting re-issues from every genre of the mainstream and independent music industry. The reason that re-issues are so oft frowned upon is that nine times out of ten they are little more than contractually obligated space fillers that acts churn out between new albums in order to appease their bosses at their respective record labels. The result is that few re-issues (regardless of genre) ever really offer any real value to audiences. BUt then there are some that actually do bear at least some value. In fact some are surprisingly well worth the listen and even the purchase. This year, Judas Priest’s classic album Defenders of the Faith has proven to be one of those re-issues that actually stands out. Fates Warning’s classic album A Pleasant Shade of Gray is another one of those worthwhile re-issues at least for rock audiences. The same can be said of Anthrax’s re-issue of Spreading the Disease. The rock realm isn’t the only one that saw some worthwhile new re-issues this year. The R&B industry saw a worthwhile re-issue from British R&B star Rainy Milo in her album This Thing of Ours. Even the World Music realm saw at least one worthwhile re-issue in the form of Flavia Coelho’s Mundo Meu. These are just some of the rare worthwhile re-issues to be released this year. There are others, too. And they are all here on the Phil’s Picks list of 2015’s Top New Re-issues. Once again, fifteen total albums have been noted with the top ten being the best and the bottom five still being enjoyable enough to deserve honorable mention. All things considered 2015 saw some rather interesting and enjoyable re-issues. And they are listed here. For your consideration, dear readers, are 2015’s Best New Music Re-Issues.

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 BEST NEW MUSIC RE-ISSUES

1. FATES WARNING — A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY

2. JUDAS PRIEST — DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH

3. ANTHRAX — SPREADING THE DISEASE

4. THE ROLLING STONES — STICKY FINGERS

5. KELAKOS — UNCORKED: RARE TRACKS FROM A 70S BAND

6. EUROPE — WAR OF KINGS

7. SAXON — HEAVY METAL THUNDER

8. SAXON — THE SAXON CHRONICLES

9. MEMPHIS MAY FIRE — UNCONDITIONAL

10. RAINY MILO — THIS THING OF OURS

11. FLAVIA COELO — MUNDO MEU

12. RED LINE CHEMISTRY — CHEMICAL HIGH AND A HAND GRENADE

13. FREEDOM CALL — 666 WEEKS BEYOND ETERNITY

14. NIRVANA — NIRVANA

15. CROWBAR — EQUILIBRIUM

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Strait Rides Away In Style In His Final Live Performance

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Legendary country musician George Strait’s days on the road are officially over. On June 7, 2014, the man known lovingly within the country music world as “The King of Country” wrapped the final leg of his tour fittingly dubbed “The Cowboy Rides Away Tour.” The tour wrapped at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It should be noted that while the show marked the end of his days on the road, it didn’t mark the end of his recording career. Of course Judas Priest’s members said the same thing some years ago and look how that turned out. So time will tell if he has indeed parked his tour bus for the last time. Regardless, Strait’s fans and country music fans in general can now own that landmark concert for themselves thanks to the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment. The leading name in live recordings, Eagle Rock Entertainment released The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium late this summer exclusively on DVD and digital formats. It goes without saying that whether one is a fan of the country music royalty, a fan of real country music or a little of both, this recording is a must for each. The central reason for that is the show’s extensive forty-song set list, which runs just short of three hours. Strait’s stage presence and that of his fellow country artists is another reason that fans will enjoy this recording. Last but hardly least worth noting is the concert’s production values. Even on DVD its production values are top-notch. They make the show’s near three-hour run time well worth it both in regards to the show’s set list and the performers’ stage presence. All things told, The Cowboy Rides Away Live From AT&T Stadium proves in the end to be a recording that every George Strait fan will enjoy just as much as any fan of real country music.

The Cowboy Rides Away Live from AT&T Stadium is a must have for any George Strait fan and any fan of real country music. So much can be said as to why this is the case. Jumping right in, the central reason for its success is its extensive forty-song set list. Covering so much ground it can be said of the near three-hour performance that it is one of those rare live shows released in recent years that is truly deserving of being called career-spanning. What’s more the very fact that Strait opted for such a rich set list is in itself groundbreaking. That is because few if any other acts out there past or present have ever released single performance recordings with so many songs. Even acts such as The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Who, and others have never released such an expansive single-show recording. That in itself speaks volumes about this recording. That every featured song is a fan favorite says even more. One of the bet of the show’s best is ‘Murder on Music Row,’ which he performs here with fellow veteran artist Alan Jackson. There’s a lot of truth in that song. Real country music is hard to find nowadays. There seems to be more southern rock and pop country out there today than real, pure country. On a different note (no pun intended) ‘I Saw God Today’ is another of the show’s best moments. The tender ballad sung from the vantage point of a new parent will bring a smile (and tears) to every fan’s face. The all-star performance of his classic hit ‘All My Ex’s Live In Texas’ is one more of the show’s best moments. It’s obvious that the performers had just as much fun performing the song as did the audience singing along. What’s more seeing so many great names representing country’s past, present, and future on one stage essentially honoring one of country’s greatest names of all time gives this performance even more of a special meaning. It’s just one of so many examples of the importance of the show’s songs in the big picture of the show’s set list. Of course the songs chosen for this show are just one part of what makes the set list in whole so important to the recording’s overall positive impact. The ordering of the songs is just as important as the songs themselves.

The songs that make up the concert’s set list make more than enough reason for Strait’s fans and real country fans alike to watch this recording. However, they are only one part of the set list that makes it so important to the whole of the recording. The ordering of the songs is just as pivotal to the show’s enjoyment as the songs themselves. Audiences will be quite impressed in taking in this concert to note the balance of its more upbeat moments with its softer, more emotional moments. From one song to the next Strait and company build the show’s energy and pull it back at just the right points from beginning to end. The end result is a near three-hour performance that will keep fans at home just as engaged as those that were in attendance at the concert’s taping. The mix of that smart sequencing with song after song that every fan will enjoy makes this concert one that even being Strait’s last live show potentially ever is one that fans will want to watch again and again.

The set list chosen for Strait’s final show and its sequencing make for more than enough reason for any George Strait fan and real country music fan alike to watch this recording. They are just a small part of the whole that makes the concert so enjoyable. Strait’s stage performance (and that of his guests) plays its own important role in the concert’s overall effect. Throughout the course of the concert, Strait maintains an almost unassuming demeanor. It could be argued that it actually presents Strait as having this full sense of humility. He doesn’t try to run around the stage and put on a certain kind of persona. it is more along the lines of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get persona. It’s nice to see such a humble persona. Believe it or not it adds quite a bit to the concert’s overall effect on fans. By contrast, his guests–of whom includes the likes of Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Eric Church, Martina McBride and others–are more energetic by and large. The juxtaposition of Strait’s stage presence to those of his fellow musicians makes for even more enjoyment. And when coupled with the show’s set list, both elements solidify the reason for fans to add this recording to their own home DVD libraries even more so. The combination of both elements would mean little, though without proper production values–the last of the recording’s positives.

Both the set list chosen for George Strait’s “final” live performance and the stage presence of Strait and his fellow musicians are equally important to the overall effect of this recording. Of course neither would be of any importance without proper production values. Luckily for fans the production values presented in the concert contained herein are of the utmost expertise. Even presented on DVD, it looks and sounds just as good as being there if not better. That could be chalked up just as much to the equipment at Strait’s disposal as those charged with manning the boards for the show. The same can be said of those charged with the show’s audio in post-production. On the side of the show’s video mix, having a slowly circulating stage could not have hurt the camera crew. On the one hand it offered the camera crew and co-directors Danny O’Bryen and Brian Lockwood plenty of options for good shots. That is because the stage was set dead center in the stadium as if it was set up for the Super Bowl’s half time show. The camera crew could shoot from on stage, from the crowd (especially since the stage wasn’t that high above the stadium floor), and from so many other angles. Having so many options and so much talent, the result of the production crew’s work is a concert that gives home viewers an even better seat than those in attendance from beginning to end. And coupled with an audio mix that is just as impressive, Strait’s performance (and that of his guests) coupled with the show’s rich, expansive set list proves to be a concert experience that is a wonderful final performance from a legendary artist should it in fact prove to be his last.

George Strait’s performance from June 7th, 2014 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas is largely believed to be the legendary country musician’s final live performance. If indeed it proves years down the road to be his final live performance, then it is a wonderful way for Strait to go out. That is even with Strait claiming that he will still continue to record new music while no longer touring. The show’s rich set list will please every one of his fans as it more than lives up to the honor of being called a career-spanning show. The sequencing of the show’s songs, Strait’s performance (and that of his guests), and the show’s expert production values come together to make the concert whole and one that fans of all ages will enjoy with every watch. It is a wonderful final performance from a legendary artist that even if it is his last, will hopefully not be his last recorded concert to ever be released. The Cowboy Rides Away Live From AT&T Stadium is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

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.

Judas Priest Announces Fall Tour Schedule

Courtesy:  Epic Records/ Chipster PR

Courtesy: Epic Records/ Chipster PR

Judas Priest will hit the road again this fall.

The band announced this week that it will hit the road once again this fall beginning Friday, October 16th in Paso Robles, California. The band—Rob Halford (vocals), Glen Tipton (guitar), Richie Faulkner (guitar), Ian Hill (bass), and Scott Travis (drums)—noted in its announcement that the newly announced tour is in response to the massive success of its latest release, 2014’s Redeemer of Souls. The album, the band’s seventeenth full-length studio release, is the band’s highest-charting album to date having debuted at #6 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.

Judas Priest’s upcoming tour is currently scheduled to run through Thursday, November 12th and will include a total of fifteen dates. Mastodon will serve as support for the tour. The current schedule for the band’s tour is noted below.

JUDAS PRIEST TOUR DATES:

October 16th, 2015      Paso Robles, CA    Vina Robles Amp
October 17th, 2015      Las Vegas, NV        The Pearl
October 20th, 2015      San Francisco, CA  The Warfield Theatre
October 21st, 2015      San Jose, CA           City National Civic
October 23rd, 2015      Fresno, CA              William Saroyan Theater
October 24th, 2015      San Bernardino, CA  Knotfest
October 27th, 2015      Vancouver, BC         Hard Rock Casino
October 28th, 2015      Vancouver, BC         Hard Rock Casino
October 31st, 2015       Regina, SK              Brandt Center
November 1st, 2015     Winnipeg, MN          MTS Center
November 3rd, 2015     Peoria, IL                 Civic Center
November 6th, 2015     Huntington, NY      Paramount Theater
November 7th, 2015     Newark, NJ              Prudential Center
November 10th, 2015    Halifax, NS             Scotiabank Center
November 12th, 2015    Toronto, ON           Air Canada Center

More dates will be announced in the weeks to come. Fans can keep up with those updates online now along with all of the latest news from the band online at:

Website: http://www.judaspriest.com

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

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.