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

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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.

Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock Succeeds In Its “Mission”

Courtesy:  inakustic

Courtesy: inakustic

Michael Schenker has had quite the storied career. He has recorded and performed with both UFO and Scorpions over the course of his decades-long career. He has also recorded and performed with his own band, Michael Schenker Group. The music that he has crafted with both UFO and Scorpions is considered some of the greatest in rock’s modern history. The music that he has crafted with his own band has proven to be just as enjoyable for his fans. Now with the recent release of Spirit on a Mission, the new album from his latest project, Temple of Rock, Schenker can add another mark to his already extensive resume. This album is a one more album that every rock purist should have in his or her own music library. The twelve-track album mixes the bombast of his former bands’ arena rock sound with something heavier and more focused. The end result of those sounds is a record that could potentially be another of this year’s best new rock records. The proof for this argument comes early on in the album’s second song ‘Communion.’ This is such an interesting song because its blues-infused rock sound is a direct contradiction to its lyrical content. Another piece that makes Temple of Rock’s new album so interesting is ‘Saviour Machine.’ Anyone that is a fan of Black Label Society will like the song’s familiar, heavier sound. The song’s lyrical side makes it just as interesting. The song’s lyrical content comes across as a personal commentary of sorts. Both elements together make it yet another example of why this record stands out in an increasingly crowded field of rock records. While both ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ each present their own proof as to what makes Spirit on a Mission so enjoyable for rock purists, they are just part of what makes this album stand out. The aptly titled ‘Rock City’ helps make the record stand out just as much. This full-on rock song throws back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair with its musical side. Its lyrical side is just as classic with front man Doogie White’s subject singing to a girl that he’ll give her everything. Those classic lyrics and straight-forward, driving tempo will put a smile on any rock purist’s face as he or she sings along. Whether for this song, the others noted, or those not noted, audiences will agree in listening to Temple of Rock’s new album that Spirit on a Mission more than succeeds in its mission.

Spirit on a Mission is a solid follow-up to Michael Schenker’s 2011 album Temple of Rock. From start to finish, this twelve-track record succeeds in its mission as it will both entertain listeners and have them thinking with its mix of music and lyrics. This is made clear early on in the album’s second track ‘Communion.’ It is such an interesting song because Schenker’s blues-infused rock sound is a direct contradiction to the lyrics penned by front man Doogie White. The song’s lyrical content comes across as presenting the standard story of a broken relationship. The situation for the couple in this song seemingly starts out fine, as White sings, “Watch as the candle gives out the light/Show me the pages/On which the ink won’t dry/Tell me your secrets as the candle burns low/Whisper you love me/Then it’s on with the show.” It doesn’t take long for things to go south and White’s subject to end up alone. White sings in the song’s final verse, “Now that it’s over/I cried in my sleep/Woke in the morning/With the secrets you keep/Give you my best/I gave you a little bit more/A slap in the face when you slammed the door/I don’t belong here no more.” Considering these lyrics, one wouldn’t think this song would have the solid blues-infused sound that it boasts. It’s definitely not the pairing that one would expect when thinking about such lyrical topics. Having such an uncommon dichotomy, it more than proves itself on of the most notable of this album’s songs. Thus it definitely stands out as at least one piece that makes this record well worth the listen.

The surprisingly entertaining musical and lyrical dichotomy presented in ‘Communion’ makes it a clear example of just what this latest effort from Michael Schenker has to offer listeners. Considering that not many acts would take such a chance as that taken here says quite a bit. That the chance taken has paid off here says even more. It’s just one of the album’s many smaller successes that make Spirit on a Mission its own success in whole. ‘Saviour Machine’ shows in its own way why Spirit on a Mission is such a success. This song is one of a pair of pieces that displays a different side to Temple of Rock on this record. It is a much heavier tune than others musically speaking. Those that are fans of Black Label Society will especially enjoy its slower, heavier sound. Lyrically speaking, it is just as certain to have listeners talking. Written by Doogie White, Michael Schenker, and Wayne Findlay, the song’s lyrical side comes across as a commentary of sorts. This inference can be made `as the trio writes, “We passed the point of no return/We stood and watch as cities burned/The sound of laughter cuts the night/Destroyed your world with my despite.” The trio goes on to write in the song’s second verse, “The soldiers marching off to war/Wonder what the hell they’re dying for/So speaks the tongue of the liar/As mountains crumble to the seas/Their hearts are crushed by man’s disease/And now they bathe in the sorrow.” As the song’s chorus states, this is coming from the vantage point of a very cynical figure. The figure almost says with a grin, “Your world is shakin’ and I don’t hear you call/Just scream my name/Hail the saviour machine.” It could be argued that the message presented here is a commentary about people’s indifference to everything going on in the world until things get to their absolute worst. That’s when people seem to really turn to a higher power. As always, that interpretation could be entirely off. It is merely this critic’s interpretation. Right or wrong, it proves in the end to be a really heavy piece both musically and lyrically. Being so heavy both musically and lyrically, it shows clearly why it is yet another prime example of why any rock purist should hear both this song and Spirit on a Mission in whole even if only once.

Both ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ are important additions to Spirit on a Mission. They both exhibit a certain heaviness in their own way. The same can be said of the band’s full-on tribute to the golden days of rock that is ‘Rock City.’ This song will take listeners back to the days of big riffs and even bigger hair right from its first strains. Its straight-forward, driving tempo and classic lyrics about a man wanting to give a woman everything will put a smile on any listener’s face. In all honesty, anyone that knows their music history will instantly equate the song to Judas Priest’s hit song ‘Freewheel Burning’ thanks to those opening moments. This applies both to Schenker’s work on guitar and drummer Herman Rarebell’s solid time keeping. On the lyrical side, White sings, “Your broken heart, girl/Can still be mended/Stay with me until the morning comes/It’s a long road to nowhere/Believe me when I say you gotta give me some more/We’re gonna rock this city/This city of love.” Considering this and some of the song’s other lyrics, one would actually associate this song more with the classic love ballads of the 80s. But thanks to the juxtaposition of the song’s full-on musical side to these lyrics, it gives the song a whole other identity. The pairing of the two elements within the song makes the song come across as that of a man who really wants to make things work and make a woman happy. Compared to so many overly sappy, over-the-top ballads that were crafted by the bands of the 80s (and even 90s) a song such as this is a great contradiction to those songs. And it is also just as great of an addition to Spirit on a Mission. It is one more way that this album proves Schenker and his Temple of Rock band mates definitely succeed in their mission with this record, one of the best new rock records of 2015.

‘Rock City’, ‘Saviour Machine’ and ‘Communion’ each show in their own way why Spirit on a Mission succeeds in its mission of entertaining audiences. They do so through the combination of both their musical and lyrical sides. While all three of the note songs each show in their own way that Spirit on a Mission succeeds in its missions, the album’s other tracks should not be ignored in that argument. ‘Bulletproof,’ ‘Let The Devil Scream,’ and ‘Wicked’–the album’s closer–each could be used to make that argument, too along with any of the other songs that make up this album. Regardless of which song(s) one picks, the result is the same. Listeners will agree that Spirit on a Mission succeeds wholly in entertaining audiences from its first track to its last. They will agree, too that that same entertainment makes it a solid candidate for any critic’s list come December for the year’s best new rock records. Spirit on a Mission is available now in stores and online. More information on Spirit on a Mission or any of Michael Schenker’s other projects is available online at:

Website: http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com/

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

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.

Rob Halford Signs New Deal With SME, Legacy

Courtesy:  Sony Legacy

Courtesy: Sony Legacy

Sony Music Entertainment and Legacy Recordings made a big announcement today that involves Judas Priest front man Rob Halford. And for fans of both Judas Priest and Rob Halford, it is a very exciting announcement.

Officials with SME and Legacy Recordings have announced that they have inked a deal with the Judas Priest front man that will allow much of the material from his side projects to finally see the light of day. The precise terms of the deal were not released. However it is known that the deal guarantees that virtually all of his work with Fight Two, and his own eponymous recordings from 1992 forward will see proper releases. There will also be an “Essentials” compilation along with a “Playlist” compilation and definitive “Complete Albums” box set. The Essential Rob Halford will be released March 31st via Columbia/Legacy as part of the deal. The double-disc compilation will feature thirty tracks. A pair of live recordings in the form of War of Words: The Film and Live in Phoenix are also expected for eventual release as part of the deal.

Rob Halford’s catalogue includes the following releases:

Fight

Albums
War of Words
Mutations
A Small Deadly Space
K5 – The “War of Words” Demos

Audio/Visual
War of Words: The Film
Live in Phoenix

Two

Voyeurs

Halford
Metal God Essentials: Volume 1
Resurrection
Live Insurrection
Crucible
Live at Rock in Rio 3 (album and audio/visual)
Live in Anaheim (album and audio/visual)
Winter Songs
Made of Metal
Live at Saitama Super Arena (album and audio/visual)
Live in London
Live 2010 North & South America Tour (album and audio/visual)
Metal God Essentials: Volume 2

Rob Halford’s fans can keep up with his latest news online via Twitter at http://twitter.com/halfordmetal. 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.

Priest’s DOTF 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Is A Must Have For Every Metal Purist And Judas Priest Fan

Courtesy:  Columbia Legacy

Courtesy: Columbia Legacy

Judas Priest. The very name is synonymous with metal. Regardless of whether or not audiences are familiar with the work of Judas Priest, they know the band’s name and its reputation among rock’s elite acts. The band has been making music together for almost half a century as of this year. To be more specific, the band has been making music for roughly forty-six years. Though its first full length album wasn’t actually released until 1974. Since that time, Judas Priest has churned out a surprising seventeen full-length studio albums. Those albums have sold millions of copies the world over including its most recent release Redeemer of Souls (2014). Considering that, it speaks volumes of the band’s longevity and its popularity. Now as the band comes another year closer to its fiftieth anniversary–this year marks the band’s forty-sixth year–it celebrates yet another important anniversary that just recently passed with the 30th Anniversary Edition of its 1984 album Defenders of the Faith. 2015 actually marks thirty-one years since Judas Priest originally released Defenders of the Faith. So why Columbia and Legacy would wait until this year to release the album’s 30th Anniversary Edition is anyone’s guess. It would have made more sense to have released it last year. That aside, Defenders of the Faith: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is still a must have for metal purists and Priest fans alike. The central reason that it is a must have for audiences is the very fact that it presents Defenders of the Faith in its entirety exactly as it was presented way back in 1984. All ten tracks are here and they sound just as they did in the album’s original release. The addition of a two-disc, twenty-one song performance from the band’s 1984 tour in support of DOTF makes this re-issue all the more valuable for metal purists and Priest fans alike. And while it may seem like a minimal element to some, the album’s packaging is just as important to the presentation as the original album and its newly included concert. By itself, the re-issue’s packaging plays its own important part in the album’s enjoyment and success. Together with the album’s extensive bonus live recording and its full presentation of the original album, all three elements together prove why every metal purist and Priest fan should have Defenders of the Faith: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition.

Defenders of the Faith: 30th Anniversary Edition is, as already noted, a must have for any metal purist and Judas Priest fan out there that does not already own his or her own copy of the album whether on CD or vinyl. The presentation of the original album in its entirety is just one reason for this. Thirty-one years have now passed since DOTF was first released to the metal masses around the world. Since that time, it has gone on to earn platinum status, selling over a million copies worldwide. Even selling so many copies, there are still those that do not own the album whether on vinyl or on CD. Now those same audiences and a whole new generation can finally enjoy this album including its hugely controversial track ‘Eat Me Alive.’ For those that don’t know, ‘Eat Me Alive’ became a point of contention for Tipper Gore and the then PMRC because of Mrs. Gore’s interpretation of said song. The band’s musical response to that song was pretty interesting in its own right. That’s a story for another time. But the fact that that song is present along with each of the album’s others, and that they still sound so clear to this day makes for plenty of reason for audiences to add this album to their music libraries.

The presentation of DOTF as it was originally presented thirty-one years ago in its new re-issue is within itself plenty of reason for metal purists and Judas Priest fans alike to add this re-issue to their music libraries. This applies to both the generation that might already own the album whether it be on vinyl or CD and to the current generation of metal legions around the world. The addition of the bonus concert recording to the package makes even more reason for metal legions and Priest fans alike to pick up this re-issue. The concert’s set list totals twenty-one tracks and comes in at just under two hours. More specifically, it clocks in at an hour and forty-three minutes. Thanks to the concert’s set list and the band’s stage presence, that near two-hour run time feels to be far longer. And that is meant in the best possible way. Simply put, the concert’s set list and the band’s stage persona leaves audiences not even realizing that so much time has passed. At the same time, it doesn’t leave audiences feeling short-changed in the end, either. Full discretion, there are some points throughout the concert in which the audio mix is a bit dicey. Simply put, at some points, it seems as if the dual attack of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing overpowers front man Rob Halford’s vocals. It’s not terrible. But it is noticeable. And luckily this doesn’t happen throughout the performance. It only happens at points. So considering this, one can forgive whomever was originally at the audio boards. Even more Richard Kayvan and Tom Allom are to be commended for their efforts in remastering both the concert’s audio and the audio from the original album’s songs. The total of that work on both sides still makes Defenders of the Faith: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition well worth adding to every metal purist and Judas Priest fan’s music collection.

The presentation of DOTF in its full, original entirety in its new 30th Anniversary Edition makes for reason within itself for metal purists and Judas Priest fans alike to add this re-issue to their music libraries. The addition of a never-before-released two-hour concert to the package makes for even more reason for those same audiences to add this re-issue to their music libraries. While both elements together do plenty to make this re-issue enjoyable, they still are not all worth noting that makes it a success. Believe it or not the re-issue’s packaging actually plays a part. So may record labels, when handling multi-disc sets, tend to use the case for a single album and add a plastic insert on which one or even two discs are placed, depending on the number of discs. This does help save space on CD racks. but it is also very problematic. The problem with this form of packaging is that the plastic insert in question can very easily be broken either at the hinge or on the insert itself when it is flipped out and pressure is placed on the insert to either remove or replace the CD(s). Columbia Legacy didn’t take that path with Defenders of the Faith: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. Instead they presented the album’s re-issue in a gatefold package. This places each of the re-issue’s three discs into their own trays. This practice protects not only the discs but the trays, too. This actually preserves the album and its companion concert discs for far longer than the standard plastic insert formula. While it may be slightly more bulky, it is also much smarter. Not only that but it also creates a certain sense of nostalgia especially among those that might have owned the original album on vinyl thirty-one years ago before the advent of CDs. People generally take for granted the packaging of CDs. But hopefully in reading this, audiences will see that packaging sometimes can indeed help make or break an album. And this is an instance in which the packaging has greatly helped the album in its re-issue. It is one more way that Defenders of the Faith: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition proves itself a must have for any metal purist and Judas Priest fan around the world. Together with the bonus full-length concert and the re-mastered original album, all three elements are more than enough reason for every member of the Metal Nation worldwide to add this re-issue to their music libraries regardless of whether or not they already own the original album.

Defenders of the Faith: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition boasts plenty of reasons for audiences to add this re-issue to their libraries. The original album is presented in its entirety. And thanks to the work of those charged with re-mastering it, it sounds as good as ever if not better. The addition of a full-length concert that comes in at nearly two hours makes this re-issue eve better even with the occasional audio imbalances between Rob Halford’s vocals and the guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. The packaging is just as important to the whole of the re-issue. Despite being slightly bulky, the packaging protects the discs and their trays and even creates a sense of nostalgia among some audiences. The combination of all three elements together makes clear why every metal purist and Judas Priest fan should add this re-issue to their music libraries. It is available now in stores and online. More information on DOTF: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is available online along with all of the latest news from Judas Priest 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 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.