Marc Rizzo Announces New Project, Solo Album, Live Dates; Group Debuts KISS Cover

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Marc Rizzo has joined with two well-known friends to form a new band.

The announcement was made Thursday through a press release. Rizzo, Tony Campos (Static-X, Soulfly), and Christian “Opus” Lawrence (Dead By Wednesday, Ellefson) have formed the new super group, Hail The Horns. The group premiered the lyric video for its cover of KISS’ song, ‘God Of Thunder’ Tuesday.

The video features the original song’s lyrics over imagers of skulls and occasional shots of the band. The band’s take on the original song is a presentation that audiences will find interesting. That is due to the stark contrast of the homage that the instrumentation pays to the original work against Campos’ heavy vocals. Campos’ vocals are far heavier and gritter than those of Gene Simmons, who provided vocals to the original song.

In related news, Hail The Horns has announced a brief tour in November. The brief Midwest tour is scheduled to run from Nov. 18 in Lombard, IL to Nov. 21 in Braidwood, IL, with performances in Fort Wayne, IN and Des Moines, IA in between. The tour’s schedule is noted below.

The group have announced Midwest tour dates for November 2021:
Nov 18 – Lombard, IL – Brauerhouse
Nov 19 – Fort Wayne, IN – Piere’s
Nov 20 – Des Moines, IA – Venue TBA
Nov 21 – Braidwood, IL – Top Fuel Saloon
More dates to be announced!

In other news, Rizzo is scheduled to release his first ever hits compilation, Living Shred Vol. 1 Sept. 10 through Godsize Records. The 11-song record will pull songs from all four of Rizzo’s solo albums.

Rizzo’s tour dates with Hail the Horns are not his only live dates scheduled this year. He is also scheduled to tour with Whiskeydick this month. The band’s tour dates are noted below.

Catch Rizzo Solo on tour this August with WHISKEYDICK :
August 13 – Sioux Falls, SD – Big’s Bar w/ Enuff Z’Nuff
August 14 – New Market, MN – The Doublewide
August 15 – Green Bay, WI – Old School Bar
August 16 – Pekin, IL – Twisted Spoke Saloon
August 17 – Braidwood, IL – Top Fuel Saloon
August 18 – Lombard, IL – Brauerhouse
August 19 – Kansas City, MO – The Westport Saloon
August 20 – Durham, CT -Soft Tail Saloon
August 21 – Syracuse, NY – Outdoor Event
August 24 – Denver, CO – Lion’s Lair
August 25 – Colorado Springs, CO – The Triple Nickel
August 26 – Amarillo, TX – Zombiez
August 27 – Fort Worth, TX – The Rail Club

In other touring news, Rizzo was originally scheduled to tour with Soulfly. However an announcement from Nuclear Blast Records Thursday revealed that Fear Factory founding guitarist Dino Cazares has allegedly taken Rizzo’s place on the tour. The announcement offered no explanation as to whether Cazares was replacing Rizzo and whether Rizzo is still a member of Soulfly.

When he was asked about that matter, Rizzo offered the following brief statement:

“I’m super excited to move foward with my solo project, Hail the Horns, and Revenge Beast!!! These last few years have been too much of a stress on my life and being home this past year focusing on my projects has been super healthy for me. Much love to all the fans and I can’t wait to hang with you guys after my shows and talk more in person!!

More information on Rizzo’s new band is available along with all of its and his latest news at:



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Jared James Nichols Premieres New EP’s Second Single, Companion Video; Reveals Full Tour Schedule

Courtesy: Black Hill Records

Jared James Nichols debuted another single and video from his latest EP this week.

James premiered the song ‘Bad Roots‘ and its companion lyric video Wednesday. The song is the second single from Nichols’ forthcoming EP, Shadow Dancer, which is scheduled for release Sept. 17 through Black Hill Records. The premiere of the song and its lyric video comes more than a month after Nichols premiered the EP’s lead single, ‘Skin ‘n Bones‘ and its lyric video.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Bad Roots’ is a driving, blues-rock style composition. The fuzz from the guitars and the richness in the bass and drums works with Nichols’ subtle vocal delivery to fully engage and entertain audiences. One can actually argue that to a point, the arrangement even bears a hint of stoner rock influence alongside the more prominent blues rock leaning.

No information was provided about the lyrical theme featured in Nichols’ new single. However, a close listen leads to the inference that the song’s lyrical theme is something of a contemplative presentation. It is as if the song’s subject is wondering why things are the way they are and realizing exactly why. That is of course just this critic’s interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation.

The lyric video features the song’s lyrics over footage of Nichols performing his new single in a dimly lit house setting, perhaps.

In other news, Nichols has announced a series of live dates in support of his forthcoming EP. The three week-plus tour is scheduled to launch Aug. 10 in Iowa City, IA and to run through Sept. 18 in Ocean City, MD at the OC Bike Fest. It also features performances in cities, such as Leesburg, VA; Fort Wayne, IN and Birmingham, AL. A stint on the KISS Kruise is also on Nichols’ live schedule from Oct. 29-Nov. 3.

Nichols’ full tour schedule is noted below.

Courtesy: Prime PR Group

More information on Nichols’ new honor, tour, and music is available along with all of his latest news at:




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Details Announced For Roadie Relief’s Latest Auction

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

An organization aimed at helping tour crews impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will continue its efforts with another special event.

Roadie Relief is scheduled to hold its second music memorabilia April 14. The auction will feature items, such as a cymbal used at Rage Against The Machine’s last show and signed by the band’s drummer Brad Wilk; a signed skate deck and posters from 311, and Gibson Les Paul guitar used by Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X for sale. The full list of items that will go up for auction is available to see complete with pictures here.

KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer said in a prepared statement, road crews are crucial for the live music industry.

“Before I became the lead guitarist for KISS almost 20 years ago, I worked behind the scenes with Kiss on and off the road,” he said. “I have a unique perspective and appreciation for how hard our crew works day in and day out. I’ve been there.”

311 bassist Aaron “PNUT” Wills offered his own warm words about the work that roadies do for the live music industry.

“I’ve been a touring musician for over twenty eight years and roadies have made it possibly at every step of my career,” said Wills. “Roadies are free spirits who solve a myriad of problems daily while out on the road. I donated cause I love talking to awesome people and I thought it could motivate our audience to dig deep and help our industry get back on its feet.”

More information on Roadie Relief’s forthcoming auction is available along with all of its latest news at

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Grande Royale’s Latest EP Is A Grand Pure Rock Record

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Rock and roll is not dead.  Despite what KISS bassist Gene Simmons and others want to believe, it is anything but.  People have tried to claim that the genre (and metal) is dead.  Apparently, even the Recording Industry Association of America wants audiences to believe rock is dead.  Thankfully, year after year, so many bands prove that quite the contrary is the reality.  Independent rock band Grande Royale is just the latest band to prove the critics wrong thanks to its forthcoming album, Carry On.  Scheduled for release Friday, the band’s fifth album leaves no doubt that real, pure guitar rock is alive and well.  That is evidenced clearly in the record’s collective musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements’ companion lyrical content does just as much to support the noted statements.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this latest offering from Grande Royale.  All things considered, they make the album clear proof that rock and roll is indeed alive and well.

Independent rock band Grande Royale’s fifth full-length studio recording, Carry On, is proof positive that despite the continued claims by so many that real guitar rock is dead, it clearly is anything but dead.  In fact, it is pure, guitar rock at its finest, and proves that the genre is alive and well.  That is proven in large part through the album’s collective musical arrangements.  The arrangements are everything that guitar rock purists have come to love about the genre.  The rich, driving guitar riffs start off the album with a sound and stylistic approach that is closely similar to that of Pearl Jam circa 2000 in ‘Troublemaker.’  ‘One of a Kind,’ which immediately follows, incorporates the most subtle touch of vintage guitar rock and pairs that with an equally subtle touch of vintage punk for yet another interesting composition.  ‘Bang,’ the album’s very next song, incorporates even more of a vintage guitar rock influence for its body, changing things up.  As if all of that is not enough, the band even gives listeners a touch of 90s pop rock late in the album’s 32-minute run in ‘Staying Dry.’  It’s just one more example of what makes the album’s musical arrangements so enjoyable.  Between these arrangements, the stoner rock approach of ‘Schizoid Lullaby,’ the raucous ‘Just As Bad As You,’ and everything else featured here, there is no doubt that the musical arrangements featured throughout this album give plenty of reason for audiences to hear the album.  They are just a portion of what makes this latest offering from Grand Royale so enjoyable.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements add to the record’s appeal even more. 

The importance of the album’s lyrics is shown in part late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Ain’t Got Soul.’  This two minute, 40 second opus is classic rock right to the bone in its lyrical theme.  The song’s chorus gives listeners every reason to raise the horns as it states against the arrangement’s high energy, “You got no role/I am swinging to the beat/You better watch out/I’m swinging to the beat/Do not stand there and shout, ‘Over and out’/’Cause you ain’t got soul/Unless you rock n roll/’Cause you ain’t got soul/An eternal case where we all belong.”  The tribute continues as the song’s subject states in the song’s second verse, “All the rules you make/I am guilty of the crime/Guilty of the charge/Playing the blues/I am a slave to my passion/Do not tell me what to do/Go back to your pretty city.”  Again, this is just a tribute to rock and roll, and to simply rocking out.  It is just as pure rock and roll as any of the album’s musical arrangements. 

‘Troublemaker’ is its own pure rock and roll work in its lyrical content just as much as its musical arrangement.  This is one of those familiar, accessible works that finds its subject addressing someone who is toxic.  That is inferred right from the song’s outset in its lead verse.  The subject states in the song’s lead verse, “All that you are in your tattered soul/Leave it all behind/You got no options my friend/All that you need/You better hit the speed/You don’t need to pretend/I’m here to take a stand.”  The commentary continues in the song’s second verse, which finds the subject telling that second person, “

I cannot stand this anymore/We’ve been here before/Knocking at your door/You are trouble, the devil/I cannot stand your face oh/My cannon is loose/Are you ready for some news?”  The song’s chorus adds to the statement even more as the subject is addressing that person, who turns out to apparently be a woman, stating, “So, darling meet me at the Troublemaker Street/Calling you a rascal, calling me a fraud/Darling, you’re the queen of the Troublemaker Street/Calling you a rascal, calling me a fraud” Whether the song’s subject is addressing solely a woman, overall or two different people, the fact of the matter is that this familiar rock and roll theme.  It will connect with any rock and roll purist.

‘Just As Bad As You’ is one more example of what makes this record’s lyrical content so important.  This song’s lyrical theme comes across as being one of those classic “partners in crime” type songs in regards to its lyrical content.  That is inferred early on in the song’s lead verse, which states, “Yeah, we are in the game/No need to put out the flame/Just me and you/Into the hall of fame/We are in the game/And who are you to blame?/Just you and me/And the power of gain.”  That seeming message continues as the song states, “Darling, you are wild/We can’t go on/This life lies way beyond/But I’m just as bad as you/Cause you are wild/We can’t go on/But I’m just as bad as you/Yeah, we are in the zone/Nothing left to atone/Just you and me/Descending the throne.”  Again, this “just the two of us” style theme is familiar to rock fans as the other themes noted here. Between these themes and those in the record’s other songs, little question is left as to the appeal of the album’s lyrical content to its presentation.  When this overall element is considered along with the album’s musical arrangements, the album’s appeal increases even more.  The overall content is still only a portion of what makes the album a success.  The record’s production rounds out its most important content.

The production that went into Carry On is important to note because of the impact that it has on the album’s general effect.  One need not listen too closely to catch the raw, garage rock sound at the center of each of the album’s songs. The richness and thickness in the drums and bass, the cutting but still so raw, driving guitars, and even the effect used on the vocals put their own touch to the record’s presentation.  That is all thanks to the production that went into making each item sound so good.  What’s more, each instrument is so well-balanced with the others and the vocals throughout.  The result is that the record will appeal to listeners as much for its general effect as for its overall content.  Keeping  all of that in mind, the album overall proves itself to be a welcome return for Grande Royale.

Grande Royale’s latest album, Carry On, is a presentation that the band’s established will find a welcome return from the group.  At the same time, audiences who are less familiar with the band and its catalog will find it just as welcome an introduction to the band.  That is due in no small part to the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are pure, guitar rock at its finest.  The lyrical themes featured alongside the album’s musical arrangements are vintage rock and roll in their own right, and are accessible in their own right.  The record’s production puts the final touch to its presentation, bringing everything together.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Carry On one more of this year’s top new rock and independent albums.  Carry On is scheduled for release Friday through The Sign Records.  More information on Carry On is available along with all of Grande Royale’s latest news at:



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Ace Frehley’s New Record Is The Exception To The Rule About Covers Compilations

Courtesy: eOne

Covers collections are a dime a dozen.  From one genre within the bigger musical universe to the next, they are overly abundant offerings.  There is no denying that in the bigger picture of things, covers collections are little more than space fillers used by acts for the purpose of fulfilling contractual obligations between new albums.  Many of those albums are that and little more.  However, every now and then at least one rarity rises above the rest to do at least a little more, and actually show some value.  Ace Frehley’s latest covers compilation is one of those rarities.  Released Friday through eOne, the 12-song record stands out in part because of its featured covers.  This will be discussed shortly.  The performances of the songs play their own part in the album’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The production that went into the record rounds out its most important elements and will be addressed later, too.  Each noted item is important in its own right to the whole of the collection.  All things considered, they make Frehley’s latest space filler a work that will appeal to plenty of classic rock fans.

Ace Frehley’s latest covers compilation, released Friday through eOne, is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new space fillers.  That is because unlike its counterparts, it actually proves itself to actually be worth at least some value.  That is due in part to the record’s featured songs.  While there are some notable works featured in the record from some very well-known bands, there are also some lesser-known deep cuts from those bands, too.  Mountain’s ‘Never in my Life’ is an example of one of those deep cuts.  The band is well-known, and while Climbing!, the album in which the song is featured, is considered a hit for Mountain, the song itself was never considered to be one of the album’s biggest hits.  ‘I’m Down,’ which was a b-side to The Beatles’ hit song ‘Help!,’ is another example of Frehley including a lesser-known work from a big name band in this record.  Cream’s ‘Politician’ is yet another example of the noted lesser-known songs featuring in this record.  While the album in which the song is featured – Wheels of Fire – is the world’s first platinum-selling double album, the song was never used as a single.  To that end, it is more of a deep cut.

On the other end of the spectrum, works, such as The Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘Manic Depression’ and Deep Purple’s ‘Space Truckin’’ (whose lyrics Frehley changes slightly here when he sings, “we’re space ace truckin’) are examples of the more well-known works featured in the album.  Between these songs and the lesser-known pieces is in reality a little bit of a rock music history lesson.  Audiences get to learn about some big name bands (I.E. The Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin) and those who were more mid-level (Mountain, Paul Revere & The Raiders) while also getting a starting point on discussions on the acts and their catalogs.  What’s more, being that those lesser-known works are rarely if ever played on corporate terrestrial radio and are just as rarely presented in other acts’ covers compilations, their inclusion adds to their importance.  Keeping all of this in mind, the compilation’s featured songs actually prove at least some value to its presentation.

While the songs featured in Frehley’s new covers set present at least some value, the performances of said songs plays just as much importance if not more.  That is because while Frehley and his fellow musicians do stay at least somewhat true to their source material throughout the record, they  also give the songs a new updated sound.  Case in point is the group’s performance of The Rolling Stones’ hit song ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash.’  The Rolling Stones’ original composition is energetic in its own right, and the band’s live performances of the song step things up in the song even more.  Frehley and company’s version here however really amps things up.  Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards’ guitars are replaced in this case by that of Frehley and guitar goddess Lita Ford.  The duo also takes on Mick Jagger’s vocals jointly and definitely take things collectively in a whole new direction.  It should be noted that Ford does drop some f-bombs here, so some listener discretion is advised.  Honestly, its disappointing that Ford would work blue here since the original song did not need any foul language in order to be enjoyable.  Charlie Watts’ steady, subtle time keeping has even been replaced by an equally heavy drum line here.  Simply put, the performance in whole does stay true to the source material in terms of sound, but in terms of style it is a completely different song.  So that is certain to generate its own share of interest and discussion among listeners.

The group’s take on The Animals’ ‘We Gotta Get Outta Here’ is another example of the importance of the performances of the featured songs here.  The Animals’ original rendition of the song was grounded in its bass line and vocals.  In the case of Frehley and company’s take on the song, Frehley takes on the bass line, using the guitar instead for that famous line.  Between that, the semi-operatic vocal delivery and the bombastic drumming, the whole of the song takes on a distinctly 80s hair metal vibe that echoe the sounds of KISS (no surprise there) instead of presenting the song in its more subdued original presentation.  At the same time, considering that the song’s lyrical content focuses on a relationship matter and “needing to get out of this place,” the song’s energy in this presentation does seem to work in its own right.  To that end, it is sure to generate its own share of interest and engagement.

On another hand, the performance of The Beatles’ I’m Down’ stays almost true stylistically to its source material.  Yes, it’s amped up compared to the original, but compared to let’s say The Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, this performance actually echoes that performance relatively well, even despite being so amped up.  As a matter of fact, this performance is actually a step up from the Beatles’ original song.  That is not to say that The Beatles’ original is bad by any means.  That should not be misconstrued.  Rather, Frehley and company took a song that was great to begin with and stepped it up, improving upon it even more.  Between this performance, the others noted here and the rest of the collection’s performances, it can be said that the performances pose their own importance to the record’s presentation just as much as the songs themselves.  The performances are just one more part of what makes the collection worth hearing, too.  Its production rounds out its most important elements.

The production of Origins Volume 2 is important to note for the very reason that has already been raised in examining the performance of the record’s featured songs:  the performances take the original songs from decades ago and really amp them up.  This is important because in so many of the songs, there is a lot more going on than in these works than the originals.  In other words, there is more need to balance all of the elements to ensure each song presents the fullest performance.  Those behind the record’s production are to be applauded for their efforts, too.  For all that is going on in each song, the guitars, bass, vocals, and drums are quite well balanced.  The energy is transmitted just as well because of that expert work that went into balancing each element within each song.  The end result is an album that works just as well for its aesthetics as for its content.  When this is considered along with the record’s content and the performances therein, the result is a covers collection that while it is a covers set, actually proves itself worth hearing at least once if not more.

Ace Frehley’s new covers compilation Origins Volume 2 is an interesting follow-up to his 2016 set Origins Volume 1.  That is due in part to its featured songs.  The songs are a balance of well-known works and deep cuts.  They and the bands that performed them can actually serve as a starting point on discussions about rock’s modern history.  That is actually a positive in its own right.  The performances of the featured songs is important to this record because they stay true to their source material in terms of sound, but stylistically, they clearly show Frehley’s own influence, what with the overly bombastic nature of each performance.  That is certain to generate its own share of discussion among audiences.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  That is because it ensures for all of the elements going on in each song, those elements are well-balanced, making the record just as worth hearing for this aesthetic element as for its content.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the compilation a presentation that is the exception to the rule for covers compilations.  It is available now.  More information on the set is available along with all of Ace Frehley’s latest news at:





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U.D.O.’s Latest LP Will Unite Music Lovers Around The World

Courtesy: AFM Records

Veteran rock band U.D.O. returns Friday with its 17th full-length studio recording.  Titled We Are 1, the 15-song record features the band performing its new compositions with the Concert Band of the German Armed Forces.  While rock bands performing and recording with non-rock organizations is anything but out of the ordinary nowadays, the fact that the entire record is composed of new songs is itself interesting.  The arrangements that make up the album’s body offer audiences plenty to appreciate, as do the lyrical themes that accompany that musical content.  Each item will be addressed in itself here.  When they are considered with the record’s sequencing, all three elements make the album in whole a truly unique presentation that rock and metal fans alike will appreciate.

U.D.O.’s latest album We Are 1 is an impressive new entry from the veteran rock band.  There is no doubt in listening through the 75-minute record, that it will resonate with rock and metal fans alike.  That is due in part to the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are full-on rock meets classical compositions that bear their own unique identity separate from the works that acts, such as Metallica and KISS have crafted.  These new, original works are such unique orchestrations.  One actually could argue that they are stylistically more similar to works from Devin Townsend’s latest album Empath (2019).  That comparison stems from the use of the choral element, the strings, the brass and woodwinds together.  Each arrangement sounds so epic even in a more reserved moment, such as in ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender).’  Now not having liner notes to reference, it is not known who the female vocalist is in this song, but her vocals, along with the bells, drums and harp make this song feel cinematic in its own right, especially with all of the attention to the dynamic changes throughout the song.  ‘Blackout’ — which immediately follows ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender)’ — is another example of how powerful the arrangements are in this record.  This nearly three-minute song’s brass and percussion come together to make the song sound like something that would be a perfect fit in the soundtrack for some military movie from the 80s and 90s.  That huge opening that leads into the immediate softer, more contemplative sound, is so powerful especially as that noted softer sound crescendos back into something more constant throughout the rest of the song.  On yet another hand, the use of the bagpipes, tympani, snare drum and standard rock elements come together in ‘Beyond Gravity’ to make this song yet another notable addition to the album that shows in its own right, why these arrangements are so important to examine.  There’s no attempt here to rip off AC/DC or any other band that uses bagpipes.  There’s not even any attempt to copy any other act.  It is its own unique presentation that is certain to become a favorite on record and in a live setting when and if music can ever go live again.  It’s just one more way in which the album’s musical arrangements prove so important to its general presentation.  When it and the rest of the album’s arrangements are considered together, the album’s diverse musical styles and elements collectively build a strong foundation for the LP’s presentation.  In themselves, they make a clear argument as to why this record is one of the year’s top new rock albums.  It might not even be a stretch to call it potentially one of the year’s top new overall albums if only for its musical aspect.  Of course the musical aspect is just one reason to take in this record.  The album’s lyrical content adds to its appeal.

The lyrical content featured in We Are 1 runs through one general topic, that topic being concerns about the state of the world.  Band founder and namesake Udo Dirkschneider talked about that overarching theme in a recent interview.  He said of the album’s general theme, “We all live on this planet.  No matter who we are or what we do, we all just have this one planet.  There is no planet B.  When I see the pictures of all the plastic in our oceans and when I hear about the next climate catastrophe in the news, I really start wondering how respectless and irresponsible we sometimes are.  It’s not just about us.  It’s also about all the others and last but not least, about our children!”  That concern that he voiced in the noted comments is shown throughout this record in a variety of fashions.  ‘Here We Go Again,’ for instance takes on concerns over how the Trump administration has handled the issue of immigration.  Dirkschneider notes in this blues rock based song’s lyrical side, “Who has got the right to decide/Who’s gonna live and who’s gonna die/People on the street and people on the sea/Always on the run/Trying to be free/People on the left/People on the right/Everywhere you look/Uptight/Living in a cell/Living in a cage/Fairy tale is over…Everybody’s…longing for a new way/Everybody’s got the right/turning darkness into light/here we go again…Time to show again.”  From here, the song makes mention of corrupt elections and trump’s cries of “fake news” every time that legitimate news agencies call BS on his lies in the song’s second verse.  Given, this is hardly the first time that any musical act has taken on the corruption of the Trump administration and Trump himself, but it is still approached in a unique fashion here that is certain to keep listeners engaged.  It is just one of the ways in which the album’s lyrical themes prove pivotal in their own right to the album.  The album’s title track, which comes early in its run, is clearly another way in which the record’s lyrics show their importance.

‘We Are One’ is a call for unity.  Again, referencing Dirkschneider’s noted statements, the song’s lyrical theme makes crystal clear sense.  He, his band mates and the choir that joins them sings in the song’s chorus, “What are we waiting for/Before we lose control/We are one/We are free/And we need a place to be/We are one/We will rise/Gonna be no compromise/We are one/We are free/And we need a place to be/We are one/We will rise/Never be a compromise.”  This comes after Dirkschneider makes note in the song’s lead verse, of people dealing with all the negativity that is on television nowadays and the impact thereof.  He continues the commentary in similar fashion in the song’s second verse, asking “Do you enjoy watching people die?” before reminding listeners again that “We are one.”  It’s that call to unity and action that is just as needed and welcome today as ever, and just one more way in which the album’s lyrical themes prove so pivotal to this album.  ‘Rebel Town’ is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.

The lyrical theme at the center of ‘Rebel Town’ is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of East and West Germany’s unification.  The song makes mention here of revolution and people sacrificing, and indirectly of people tearing down the Berlin Wall.  Dirkschneider even goes so far as to state at one point, “Chase away the leaders/Let them rot in hell/Believe in what you’re fighting for/Let them hear the rebel yell.”  This is that call again, this time about people coming together to remove the barrier between the two Germanies “in this little town.”  The use of the horns and overall orchestral elements here really paints such a vivid picture of that key moment in history.  This is unique if not original in terms of songs’ lyrical themes from one to the next.  This critic in particular is hard-pressed to find another band that has ever written a song about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany.  Keeping that in mind, the song is yet another example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to its whole.  When it is considered along with the other noted themes and those in the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the album’s lyrical content works with the album’s musical content to make the LP’s body overall such that it will guarantee listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  Even with all of this in mind, there is still one more item to note in examining the album’s presentation – its sequencing.

The sequencing of We Are 1 is important to note because it displays the time and thought that went into maintaining the album’s energy throughout.  Seventy-five minutes is a long span.  Given it isn’t the length of a full concert, but it is still a long run time for a standard studio recording.  To that end, the sequencing plays a key part in ensuring listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  The album opens just as strongly as it closes and vice versa.  In-between, the energy rises and falls at all of the right points from one to the next and even within each of the songs.  Some of the songs start, stay and end strong while others, such as ‘Love and Sin’ and ‘Children of the World’ open with a semi-mysterious tone before launching into a full-on cinematic approach that is a fit for any epic blockbuster’s soundtrack.  ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender)’ and ‘Blackout’ serve as solid break points for the album’s sequence, giving listeners something soft, and then fully orchestra in the vein of movie soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer before the album returns to its initial approach.  ‘Natural Forces,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is another good break point, giving listeners more of the Hans Zimmer style presentation.  From here on out, the album’s energy switches direction, rises and falls at all of the right moments, ensuring just as much as ever, listeners’ engagement and entertainment right to the album’s end.  When all of this is considered along with the impact of We Are 1’s musical and lyrical content overall, all three elements come together to make this album a truly outstanding offering from U.D.O. that will appeal not only to rock and metal aficionados but to music lovers in general.

U.D.O.’s latest full-length studio recording We Are 1 is one of the most pleasant musical surprises of 2020 so far.  While it features a rock band working with an orchestra, it can’t be compared to those rock-meets-classical records from the likes of Metallica and KISS by any means or any other band that has taken this approach.  This collection of new songs really is its own, unique presentation that shows more similarities to works from Devin Townsend, composer Hans Zimmer, Epica, Judas Priest and even Joe Satriani (yes, that seems like an odd mix, but it works) than to the noted other acts’ works.  What’s more, the socially conscious lyrical themes that accompany the musical arrangements solidify the album’s presentation even more.  The record’s  sequencing puts the final touch to the album’s presentation.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the LP’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this record not only one of the year’s best new rock and hard rock albums, but potentially one of the year’s best new overall albums.  We Are 1 is scheduled for release Friday through AFM Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of U.D.O.’s latest news at:









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Opus’ New Covers Collection Will Appeal To A Wide Range Of Rock Fans

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Rock drummer Christian F. Lawrence released a new collection of cover songs titled The Corona Covers Friday through his official Bandcamp page.  Lawrence — who goes by the stage name Opus — works with independent hard rock/metal band Dead By Wednesday and with Megadeth bassist David Ellefson on his solo work.  The eight-song recording features songs that are a far cry from the work for which he has come to be known.  That is due to the songs that make up the body of the new compilation.  They will be discussed shortly.  Lawrence’s performance of said songs plays its own role in the overall presentation of this record.  They will be discussed a little later.  The price point for this covers collection is also important to discuss.  Together with the noted elements of the songs and their performances, all three elements make The Corona Covers a positive display of Lawrence’s talents and potential as a solo artist.

The Corona Covers is a positive new offering for drummer Christian F. Lawrence.  That is because it is a work that puts on display, Lawence’s talents as a singer, guitarist and solo artist.  It does this in part through the songs that make up its body.  The songs are not metal songs.  Rather, they are works that come from a relatively wide range of musical genres.  The collection opens with a cover of Alice in Chains’ hit song ‘Rooster.’  The band, as most audiences know, was part of the Seattle grunge sound back in the early and mid 1990s.  From there, Lawrence takes audiences back in time with his own performance of Pink Floyd’s timeless song ‘Mother.’  ‘Mother’ and ‘Rooster’ could not be any farther apart as two songs can be in terms of genres.  He continues to branch out even more in the collection’s third song, ‘Blackbird.’  ‘Where Do The Children Play?,’ which was the product of Cat Stevens, follows that work.  From there, Lawrence moves to the southern rock realm with a cover of the Marshall Tucker Band’s song ‘Can’t You See.’  He doesn’t stick to that sound for long as the collection continues progressing, offering next, a cover of Phil Collins’ timeless hit ‘In The Air Tonight.’  KISS’ song ‘Beth’ follows that work, again keeping things interesting for listeners.  ‘Itsy Bitsy,’ by Mike and Peggy Seeger, closes out the collection.  Yet again, here is another change of style and pace for listeners.  What’s more, it’s another example of the diversity in Lawrence’s own musical influences.  That far-reaching range of influences in itself will establish respect for Lawrence by listeners while also keeping audiences engaged and entertained.  Keeping that in mind, this collection’s featured songs clearly are important in their own right to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  As important as they are to the collection’s presentation, Lawrence’s presentation thereof is just as important to address.

Each performance by Lawrence in this collection stays true to its source material as best it can.  That is obvious throughout the compilation. That in itself is noteworthy.  What’s more, Lawrence’s actual performance of each song does its own part to honor each song’s roots.  The most notable of his performances come in his takes on ‘Rooster’ and ‘Mother.’  From the “rubbery” effect of the guitar to the control and balance in the layering of the vocals, this performance is right up there with the best acoustic performances that Alice in Chains held at its MTV Unplugged performance so many years ago.  Lawrence’s performance of ‘Mother’ is just as powerful, as that crafted by Pink Floyd.  That same melancholy is there in the instrumentation and Lawrence’s vocal delivery.  It has that same ethereal vibe of its source material, leading it to tug so strongly at listeners’ emotions.  Lawrence is to be commended for this performance which mirrors almost exactly its source material.  Much the same can be said of his performance of The Marshall Tucker Band’s song ‘Can’t You See’ and The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird.’  Lawrence strives to stay as true as possible to the source material in those performances, as well as those of the other noted songs and those not directly addressed here.  All things considered, Lawence’s performance of the compilation’s featured songs adds even more engagement and entertainment to the set as the songs themselves.  Together with the songs, the two elements give fans plenty of encouragement to purchase the record.

Speaking of buying, the price of Lawrence’s new covers collection is $8.  Considering the breadth of content and the Lawrence’s also already noted performances, that price is actually relatively affordable.  So many records with the same amount of content can range from that price and go up from there, so paying only that price is not bad.  Add in the fact that Lawrence will add new songs to the collection each week without raising the price, and audiences get even more motivation to purchase this compilation.  When this is considered along with the impact of the set’s songs and performances thereof, the set in whole proves to be a work that Lawrence’s fans will appreciate just as much as Dead By Wednesday fans and those of David Ellefson.

Christian F. Lawrence’s new covers collection The Corona Covers is hardly the first covers collection to ever be released by any musical act.  It is however, one that rock fans in general will find entertaining.  That is proven in part through the songs that make up the body of the record.  They show Lawrence’s wide range of musical tastes while also providing a wide range of listeners something to enjoy.  Lawence’s performance of the noted songs adds even more to appreciate here, as does the collection’s law price.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of The Corona Covers.  All things considered, they make The Corona Covers a presentation that will appeal to any rock fan.

More information on The Corona Covers is available online along with all of Lawrence’s latest news and more at:



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Ace Frehley To Perform Live On ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ Monday Night

Courtesy: eOne

Ace Frehley will release his new album next month, and in anticipation of its release, will make an appearance Monday night on ABC.

Frehley, one of the original members of KISS, will appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! asa special guest member of Kimmel’s house band, Cleto and the Cletones as part of the promotion for his new album Spaceman.  The album is currently scheduled for release Oct. 19 via eOne.

 Spaceman is Frehley’s first album of original material since the release of his 2014 album Space Invaders. It features a cover of Eddie Money’s ‘I Wanna Go Back’ the singles ‘Bronx Boy‘ and ‘Rockin’ With The Boys‘ and six other songs sure to be their own fan favorites.

The album’s full track listing is noted below. Pre-orders are open now.


Courtesy: eOne

1. Without You I’m Nothing
2. Rockin’ With the Boys
3. Your Wish Is My Command
4. Bronx Boy
5. Pursuit Of Rock and Roll
6. I Wanna Go Back
7. Mission To Mars
8. Off My Back
9. Quantum Flux




Frehley is scheduled to perform on the KISS Kruise VIII from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5.  The cruise leaves from Miami, Florida before heading to Key West and Nassau before returning to Miami on Nov. 5.

Three more dates in Florida are scheduled following the cruise, from Nov. 9 to 11.  All of Frehley’s current live dates ate noted below.

Oct 31, 2018 – Nov. 5, 2018 – Miami to Key West and Nassau, KISS Kruise VIII
November 9, 2018 – Clearwater, FL, Capitol Theatre
November 10, 2018 – Melbourne, FL, King Center for the Performing Arts
November 11, 2018 – Miramar, FL, Miramar Amphitheatre

More information on Ace Frehley’s new album, live dates and more is available online no along with all of his latest news and more is available online now at:






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The Dead Daisies Make A Good First Live Impression With ‘Live & Louder’

Courtesy: Spitfire Music/SPV

The Dead Daisies are alive and kicking.  The veteran rock outfit makes that clear in its brand new live recording Live & Louder.  The recording, released last Friday, May 19, comes a little less than a year after the release of the band’s third full-length studio recording Make Some Noise.  This new live recording is also the band’s first-ever live offering.  Keeping that in mind, it is a good start for the band in terms of live recordings.  That is due in part to the recording’s set list.  This will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance of said set list is just as important to discuss as the set list itself in examining its overall presentation.  The bonus DVD that comes with the CD is yet another of the recording’s most important elements and hardly its last.  One could (and should) discuss the recording’s collective production values, which include its sound engineering and its general editing, as another positive.  The only real negative to the whole thing is the fact that the DVD provides snippets of the band’s performance rather than the performances in whole presented in the recording’s CD.  It would have been nice to have had that included in the package.  Hopefully that will be taken into consideration when and if the band releases its next live recording.  Even with that in mind, the recording in whole still proves to be an enjoyable first live effort from The Dead Daisies that exhibits potential for future live recordings from the band.

Live & Louder is an enjoyable first live effort from The Dead Daisies.  It is a recording that that exhibits potential for future live recordings from the band.  That is due in part to the recording’s set list.  The 15-song set list (technically 14-song since one track is listed as “Band intros) lifts liberally from the band’s latest full-length studio recording, with the album receiving eight nods.  The band’s first two records are also represented here, too with the band self-titled 2014 album being represented by ‘Lock ‘N’ Load,’ which featured former Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Slash as guest musician in the original recording.  Revolucion (2014) receives three nods in the form of ‘Mexico,’ ‘With You and I’ and the band’s cover of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s ‘Midnight Moses.’  Those aren’t the set list’s only high points.  Also included in the set list are covers of The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter’ and Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘We’re An American Band.’  While Make Some Noise got the most nods in this set list, the band is to be commended for lifting at least somewhat from its first two records for this show, too.  It would have been nice to have more songs from those albums for audiences who might not be so familiar with the band and its body of work.  Hopefully the band will take this into consideration when and if it releases its second live effort.  Even with this in mind, the set list still proves to be its own important part of the recording’s whole.  It is not the recording’s only key element.  The band’s performance of the set list is just as important to discuss here as the set list itself.

The set list featured in The Dead Daisies’ debut live recording is a key piece of the recording’s whole.  That is because though it pulls heavily from the band’s latest album, it does make an attempt to introduce audiences to the band’s older material, too.  Hopefully any future live recordings will be more balanced in regards to its representation of the band’s body of work.  While the set list alone makes this recording a good first live effort for the band, it is just one of the elements that is worth noting.  The band’s performance of the set list is just as important to note as the set list itself.  What is most notable about the band’s performance throughout these collected concerts is the sheer energy exuded in each show by each of the band’s members.  Front man John Corabi leads the way, giving his all in each song while the teamwork of guitarists Doug Aldrich and David Lowy generates even more energy through each song.  Drummer Brian Tichy’s solid timekeeping and powerhouse work behind the kit will impress drummers and musicians in general as will veteran bassist Marco Mendoza.  Whether in the songs or between them, the band manages to keep even home audiences entertained with its collective work.  The only downside to the band’s performances is that the actual video of said performances comes only in small clips in the concert’s bonus DVD.  It would have been nice to have had a full audio-visual presentation of that energy rather than an exclusively audio presentation.  Either way, the energy of the band’s performance does translate relatively well here.  As with the set list itself, it is another element which should be considered for the band’s next live recording.  That aside, the band’s energy still translates well in each song through the recording’s current presentation.  Keeping that in mind, it is not the last of the recording’s most important elements.  The bonus DVD that comes with the recording is yet another of its key elements.

The bonus DVD that is included with Live & Louder is a critical piece of the recording’s whole because of its content.  It includes an extensive series of interviews with the band members in which they discuss a variety of topics including stage fright, favorite live songs, playing covers and much more.  It also includes music videos for four songs taken from Make Some Noise.  Having the videos available on DVD means not always having to search for the videos online, so that in itself is its own bonus.  Audiences are also treated to a brief yet concise look at the tour from which the featured set list was culled.  The short vignettes give just a glimpse into the band’s live shows and life on the road, which adds to the recording’s overall experience.  Each element is minor in itself.  However, when set alongside each other, the noted elements do plenty to add to the overall live experience for fans who might otherwise not get to experience The Dead Daisies live.  One can only hope that, again, with its next live recording, a full audio-visual experience will be available and not just glimpses of that full-on experience.  That’s a discussion for another time.  All things considered, the bonus DVD that comes with Live & Louder’s main CD presentation is worthy of applause in its own right.  When it is set alongside the concert’s set list, the band’s performance thereof and even the concert’s production values, the end result is a recording that is a good first live effort for The Dead Daisies both because of and despite the lack of a DVD or Blu-ray recording of the concert.

The Dead Daisies’ debut live recording Live & Louder is a good first live effort from the veteran rock collective.  It boasts plenty of positives that have already been noted.  What wasn’t fully discussed was the expert production values exhibited throughout the recording.  The transitions between the separate segments were spot on and the sound engineering proves to be just as impressive as the general editing.  When these elements are set alongside the other discussed elements, the end result proves once more just how enjoyable this recording is even solely on an audio-specific platform.  With any luck, the band’s next live recording will include a DVD and/or Blu-ray performance so that the band can show even more just how impressive its live show is.  Live & Louder is available now.  More information on Live & Louder is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:










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Santana Shines Again In Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New Live DVDs/BDs List

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The weather outside is definitely looking frightful this time of year.  That means rather than going outside to get out and about, people are going to be looking more for ways to have fun while they stay indoors and stay warm.  That is just one of so many reasons that record labels churn out so many live recordings each year.  The problem with all of those recordings is that while some are truly standout offerings, others are otherwise forgettable space fillers used to fulfill contractual obligations for the given acts.  Presented today are some of the best of this year’s new live recordings.

Whereas Phil’s Picks already presented the year’s top new live CD recordings, this time Phil’s Picks is presenting the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays.  A lot of thought and consideration went into this list.  The concerts’ set lists, the bands’ performances, the cinematography and audio mix all went into consideration for this list as did the recordings’ companion booklets or lack thereof.  So it goes without saying that it wasn’t an easy list to assemble.  But this critic tried.
As always, the list presented here includes not just this critic’s list of the year’s top new live DVDs and BDs but five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 recordings.  Without any further ado, here for you, is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Live DVDs/BDs.
1. SantanaSantana IV Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas
2. KISSKISS Rocks Vegas
3. Joe BonamassaLive at the Greek Theatre
4. Judas PriestBattle Cry
5. Motley CrueThe End Live in Los Angeles
6. The Rolling StonesHavana Moon
7. Deep PurpleLive at the NEC
8. Melody GardotLive in Paris
9. Gregory PorterLive in Berlin
10. ScorpionsLive in Munich
11. Alan JacksonLive at Red Rocks
12. Michael Schenker’s Temple of RockRock on a MissionLive in Madrid
13. SaxonFeel Your Power
14. Imagine DragonsSmoke + Mirrors Live
15. Fall Out BoyThe Boys of Zummer TourLive in Chicago
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