Conquest’s ‘Under The Influence’ Is Not Just Another Covers Album

Courtesy:  Dark Star Records

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Early this past April St. Louis, Missouri-based metal outfit Conquest released its latest album Under The Influence.  The forty-three-minute covers album presents eleven songs from some of the band members’ favorite bands.  The songs themselves are, collectively, their own important part of the record’s presentation.  That will be discussed shortly.  They are not the album’s only key element.  The band’s take on the featured songs is just as important to note in this record’s presentation as the songs themselves.  That will be discussed later.  The album’s overall sequencing rounds out the record’s most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the album’s whole.  Altogether all three elements Under The Influence a covers album that any rock fan should hear at least once.  This applies regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Conquest’s body of work.

Covers albums are a dime a dozen nowadays in the music industry.  Nine times out of ten, they are space fillers used between new albums to tide over fans and fulfill contractual obligations for record labels.  Even worse, said albums are commonly thrown together rather haphazardly, much like all of the “hits” albums that are out there.  The end result in both cases are albums (if one even wants to call them albums—note the sarcasm) that are anything but memorable or even worth having in one’s personal music collection.  Enter Under The Influence, the new covers collection from St. Louis, Missouri’s hard rock outfit Conquest.  Unlike all of the covers (and “hits”—technically singles) collections out there on the market today this eleven-song compilation record is one that every rock fan should head at least once.  This applies regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Conquest and its body of work.  The record’s featured covers are in themselves just one of the elements that make this record worth hearing.  That is the case because the songs don’t just come from one of rock’s many sub-genres or another.  Rather it crosses those genres from beginning to end.  It also spans rock’s rich modern history with its presented songs.  It all kicks off with a pair of Judas Priest covers in the form of ‘Metal Gods’ and ‘The Ripper.’  That pair of songs is followed by a cover of Iron Maiden’s beloved ‘Wraith Child.’ The band gets even heavier from there with its own take on Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls.’  Things change even more dramatically in the band’s next offering, a cover of Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades.’  This one comes at just the right moment, too, as it is essentially the album’s midway point.  It isn’t even the album’s most interesting of the record’s inclusions either.  The album’s second half features covers of songs from Bon Jovi, Anthrax, Pantera, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, and even UFO.  To say that that is a broad swath of bands (and songs) would be an understatement.  Simply put, the eleven songs (and bands) that are featured in this covers collection is extremely wide.  The songs are just as diverse in their stylistic approaches as the bands are within their own rock sub-genres.  Keeping that in mind, it becomes clear as to why the songs featured in this record are so important to its presentation.  They don’t subject listeners to just one style of rock.  Rather, they cover so many different styles from so many ages of rock’s rich history.  They make up just one of the record’s most important elements.  The band’s take on each of the featured songs is just as important to note here as the songs themselves.

The songs (and bands) that are featured in Conquest’s new covers collection are collectively their own important part of the record’s presentation.  That is because they lift liberally from rock’s rich modern history.  The songs present a wide range of bands and rock styles from beginning to end.  That is just one part of what makes this record a rare covers collection that is actually worth hearing.  The band’s actual performance of the record’s featured songs is just as important as the songs themselves.  The band’s take on Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ is one of the band’s best performances in this record.  If one were to hear this take on the classic heavy metal tune without knowing it was Conquest, one would actually think that it was Metallica.  The band performed the song verbatim both lyrically and stylistically.  And front man Derrick Brumley may not sound just like James Hetfield circa 1984.  But listeners will be surprised at the similarity in the sound of the singers’ vocals.  The band’s take on ‘Ace of Spades’ is just as impressive.  One could argue in fact, that Conquest’s take on the classic rock anthem is just as good as Motorhead’s original recording.  It doesn’t bear the grittier, garage rock sound presented in Motorhead’s original composition.  But even with that taken into consideration it still pays honor stylistically to the original right down to the song’s familiar up-tempo bass line (handled here by bassist Rob Boyer).  One of the song’s biggest surprises is Brumley’s vocal delivery.  It’s not certain as to whether or not Brumley set out to emulate Lemmy Kilmister in this cover.  But interestingly enough listeners will note that there is a certain element of that gritty sound made so familiar by the late rock legend in Brumley’s own vocal delivery here.  It is a nice touch to the, and especially so if Brumley did not set out to try to sound like Kilmister.  The band’s take on UFO’s ‘Lights Out In London’ is another example of the importance of the band’s performances in this record.  It could actually be argued here that Conquest’s cover is even better than the original.  That is thanks to the bombastic guitar solos, Bruley’s powerhouse vocal delivery, and Tim Fleetwood’s equally solid work behind the kit.  Of course Boyer’s work on the bass here shouldn’t be ignored either.  The whole of the band’s work here makes the band’s take on the song a song that will have make every rocker out there proud.  It is just one more example of what makes the band’s performance of each of the record’s featured songs is just as important as the songs themselves.  They are hardly the record’s only key examples of that importance.  Audiences will take just as much notice of the band’s take on ‘Dead Or Alive’ ‘Wraithchild’ and ‘Cowboys From Hell.’  The prior pair of covers is much more bombastic here in the case of the original songs.  ‘Cowboys From Hell’ on the other hand is a relatively close take on the original.  All three will hold listeners’ ears and have them talking afterward just as much as the other noted covers and those covers not noted here.  All in all, the band’s take on each of the songs featured proves just as pivotal to the record’s presentation as the songs themselves.  They are not the record’s only important elements, though.  The album’s sequencing is just as important to its presentation as the songs and their performances.

The songs that are featured in Conquest’s new covers collection and the band’s take on each song are equally important to the album’s presentation.  The songs are so important to note because of the broad range of influences presented throughout the record’s forty-three minute run time.  The band’s performance of the songs is just as important to note as the songs themselves because of the similarities and differences between the originals and the band’s updated take on each song.  Those similarities and differences are certain to create their own share of interest and discussion among audiences.  As important as each element proves to the record’s whole they are not its only key elements.  The record’s sequencing is just as important to its presentation as those noted elements.  Audiences that pay close attention to the record’s sequencing will note that for the most part the record maintains a relatively solid energy level from beginning to end.  Though, the energy does pick up just enough at given points, so as to maintain listeners’ engagement.  It picks up first just past the record’s halfway point in the form of Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ before puling back just a little bit as the record transitions into its second half.  As the album nears its end the band picks things up once more in the covers of ‘Red Hot’ and ‘Cowboys From Hell’ before finishing off with the slightly slower (slightly at best) but no less heavy ‘Children of the Grave.’  Simply put, the band has balanced the record’s energy and even its varied musical styles from beginning to end thanks to its expert sequencing.  This ensures listeners’ maintained engagement, and in turn, entertainment.  Keeping this in mind, the record’s sequencing shows in the end why it is just as important to its presentation as its songs and performances thereof.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, Under The Influence shows in the end to be a rarity of a covers album.  It doesn’t come across as just some contractually obligated space filler.  Rather it proves to be a collection of classic rock songs that Conquest’s fans will enjoy just as much as those of the bands featured throughout the record.  It is a record that succeeds at presenting a solid introduction to rock’s rich modern history all while entertaining rock fans of all ages.  It is a covers collection that is actually worth hearing at least once regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Conquest or its body of work.

Conquest’s latest studio recording Under The Influence is a record that every rock fan should hear at least once.  This applies regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the band or its body of work.  That is because it isn’t just a random, contractually obligated space filler record.  Its eleven songs present a solid introduction to rocks rich modern history.  That is thanks to the broad array of bands and songs that is presented here.  The band’s performance of each song is just as important to the record’s presentation as the songs themselves.  That is because they present new and familiar takes on the classic songs; takes that will keep listeners engaged and generate their own share of discussion among audiences.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.  Over the course of its forty-three minutes, the records sequencing expertly balances the record’s energy from beginning to end.  This ensures just as much listeners’ engagement.  Each element plays its own important part in the record’s presentation.  Altogether they make Under The Influence a record that very rock fan should hear at least once regardless of one’s familiarity with Conquest or its body of work.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Dark Star Records’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from Conquest is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://conquestmetal.com

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

 

 

 

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Conquest Offering Free Song Download

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Independent metal act Conquest is making some of its music available to the masses.

The St. Louis, Missouri-based band, which is signed to Dark Star Records, has made available for free download its cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Children of the Grave.’  It is available here.  But it is only available for a limited time.  It will be available only until next Monday, June 20th.  The band’s cover of the classic tune is included in the band’s album Under The Influence.  Front man Derrick Brumley explained recently where his love for both the song and for Black Sabbbath comes from noting, “These guys started it all. When I was 7 or 8 my brother’s girlfriend brought over their first album and I was completely blown away! She ended up leaving it at our house and it became mine. “Children ..” is the one song that has stuck with me over the years.”

Under The Influence is the tenth full-length studio recording from Conquest and its third for Dark Star Records.  It was released April 8th.  The album is a collection of covers of music from bands that influenced the band’s own members including: Judas Priest, Metallica, Motorhead, Pantera, and (believe it or not) Bon Jovi among many others.  It can be ordered online now direct via Dark Star Records’ online store.  More information on Conquest, it’s new album, free download, live dates, and more is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://conquestmetal.com

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

 

 

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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

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.

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

 

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.

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

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.