Red Line Chemistry’s ’06 Debut Re-Issue Could Mark Band’s New Beginning

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Red Line Chemistry has been making music together for just over ten years. Over the course of that time, the band has released no fewer than three full-length studio recordings. The band has done so all without the help of major mainstream radio corporations or even major record labels. That says quite a bit about this band and its work ethic. That work ethic paid off earlier this year as the band signed a new deal with indie record label Pavement Entertainment and in turn will re-issue its debut album Chemical High and a Hand Grenade later this month. The twelve-track record is a work that any fan of Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, and even Tool and A Perfect Circle will enjoy. Those influences taken into consideration, Chemical High and a Hand Grenade could very well prove to be, in its upcoming re-issue, a whole new beginning for the Kansas City, Missouri-based hard rock outfit. That is evident right from the album’s opener ‘Bullets and Armor.’ The full throttle rocker clearly exhibits the influences of both Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin over the course of its near three and a half-minute run time. Later in the album’s run, the Tool influence comes through in the form of ‘Apology.’ Front man Brett Ditgen is, vocally, a dead ringer for Maynard James Keenan here. ‘Penny Drama,’ which comes halfway through the record’s run is one more noteable addition to the record. It is a well-placed piece considering that it is completely unlike the album’s other tracks, stylistically speaking. Set alongside the previously noted songs, all three songs in themselves show clearly what makes CHAAHG (as it will be known from here on out) such an interesting collection of songs. The songs noted here along with the remainder of the album’s songs show the album in whole to be potentially a whole new beginning for RLC given support from the right sources.

The upcoming re-issue of CHAAHG is one of the best of this year’s crop of music re-issues. It is a record that any fan of Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, and even Tool will want to hear at least once if not more. From beginning to end, the band–Brett Ditgen (vocals), Andy Breit (guitar), Dave Fyten (guitar), Tom Brown (bass) and Mike Mazzares (drums)–took the sounds of those bands and crafted the twelve songs of its own that collectively make CHAAHG a record that is just as much a fit on any mainstream rock radio station today as the bands that obviously influenced it. That is evident right off the top in the form of the record’s opener ‘Bullet and Armor.’ ‘Bullets and Armor’ is a good first impression for the band and an equally solid re-introduction for those that have followed the band since its inception eleven years ago. It is a straight forward, adrenaline-fueled work driven in large part by Mazzares’ time keeping. Breit and Fyten complement Mazzares’ work solidly with their work on the lead and rhythm guitar respectively. The song’s musical content is just one part of what makes it a solid composition. Its lyrical content is just as important to note here, too. While there is some difficulty deciphering the lyrics without a lyrics sheet (as this critic has had to do), some of the lyrics can be deciphered. From what can be deciphered it would seem that Ditgen sings about putting up that proverbial armor to protect against the “bullets” that are “fired” at a person every day and the occasional difficulty of holding up that “armor.” Now should that interpretation hold water, then it would be even more interesting considering such subject matter set against the song’s musical content. The song’s musical content is rather fast-paced and boasts a certain confidence. It is a direct contrast to that lyrical content, thus making it all the more interesting of a first impression from the band on this record. It’s not the only interesting addition to the record, either. Late in the album’s run audiences get an equally interesting piece in the much moodier ‘Apology.’ This song shows just as much as ‘Bullets and Armor’ what makes CHAAHG worth at least one listen.

Red Line Chemistry makes a strong case for consideration among the mainstream ranks with the opening track on its soon-to-be re-issued debut album. The driving, straight-forward sound of the song’s musical content coupled with its equally thought-provoking lyrical content collectively make it a song that would have no trouble catching listeners’ ears. Much the same can be said of the very Tool-esque song ‘Apology.’ Ditgen sounds eerily like Tool front man Maynard James Keenan in his delivery here. His band mates add to the Tool-inspired sound here especially through Breit and Fyten’s work on guitar. That sound set against Ditgen’s vocal delivery as he sings seemingly about a broken relationship makes this song one of the record’s most standout moments. The assumption regarding the song’s lyrical theme comes as Ditgen sings, “You know that I was struggling/You saw I wasn’t well/And it’s killing me to say these things/I don’t feel I’m ready for this…” He goes on to sing, “I know that you were suffering/These decisions that were made/Will you understand you’ve done no wrong/It’s me that was so selfish all inside/I’m sorry/I’m sorry/I’m sorry.” The sorrowful tone in Ditgen’s delivery comes across as being so genuine. It adds so much emotional depth to the song. That depth set against the depth crafted through the song’s musical content makes even stronger the argument in favor of audiences and radio programmers alike giing this album a chance.

Both ‘Apology’ and ‘Bullets and Armor’ are clear examples of why CHAAHG’s upcoming debut-re-issue could very well be a whole new beginning for the band. As much as they prove the value of this album in today’s mainstream rock radio realm, ‘Penny Drama,’ which serves as the album’s midway point is just as solid of an example of why CHAAHG could be a new beginning for RLC. In regards to its lyrical content, this song also comes across as one centered on a broken relationship. That being noted what really stands out about this song is its musical influence. Listening closely to this piece, it can be argued that there is a hint of an influence from Alice in Chains as well as Shinedown and others. The Shinedown influence is especially apparent in the song’s chorus in which Ditgen sings, “She’s no ordinary woman/Weighing on my mind/Latching on to all I’m dreaming…and the other world/It seems so far away.” The vocal harmonies exhibited in the song’s verses instantly conjure thoughts of the two-part harmonies that made Alice In Chains’ music so infectious (for lack of better wording). That in itself is reason enough to make this song yet another piece that could serve as a single for the album’s re-issue. Simply put it is yet another example of why the upcoming re-issue of CHAAHG could mark a whole new beginning for RLC. Regardless of whether this song is used, those previously noted, or any of the album’s other compositions, every one of the songs that make up the body of this record prove together why listeners and radio programmers alike should and will want to give this record at least one listen.

‘Penny Drama,’ ‘Apology’ and ‘Bullets and Armor’ are all clear examples of how much CHAAHG have to offer audiences even almost fifteen years after its original release. All three songs exhibit the influence of bands that are themselves some of the biggest names in the rock community today. The other nine tracks not directly noted here could each be used just as easily to display the band’s talent and its relevance even in today’s mainstream rock world. Radio programmers and listeners that give the record a chance will hear that for themselves from beginning to end. And in realizing this, those audiences that give the record a chance will agree that in whole CHAAHG could be, in its upcoming re-issue, a whole new beginning for this band’s career. It will be available Friday, July 24th via Pavement Entertainment. All of the latest updates on the album are available online now along with all of the latest updates from the band at:

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RedLineChem

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Numan’s New Album Is A Musical Masterpiece

Courtesy:  Machine Music USA, Inc.

Courtesy: Machine Music USA, Inc.

Veteran musician Gary Numan has shaken up this critic’s list of the year’s best rock and hard rock albums with the release of his latest album, Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind).  Numan’s new record, his twentieth full length studio release, takes listeners once again into the ever darkening world that he has crafted throughout his more recent releases.  Numan grabs audiences right from the album’s emotionally desolate opener ‘I Am Dust’ straight through to ‘My Last Day’, which closes out the album’s dozen tracks and never lets go.  It may not be the most uplifting album out there.  But the sonic landscapes crafted throughout this near hour-long record make it worth more than just a couple listens.  As a matter of fact, that landscape makes this album a darkhorse candidate to be one of the year’s best new rock or even hard rock albums.

Numan made the completely right choice opening his new album with ‘I Am Dust.’  There is so much that can be said of this song.  The first thing that listeners will take away from this song is the different musical and vocal influences obvious throughout the song.  Numan’s own vocal style in the verses conjures thoughts of Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer front man Maynard James Keenan.  However, when he reaches the choruses, there is almost a mix of Peter Steele (Type O Negative) and Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) in his voice as he sings, “We are yours/We’re waiting for you/We are yours/We’re waiting for you.”  The Fear Factory and Type O Negative influences can also be heard in the choruses in the song’s musical side.  Numan’s nihilistic lyrics in this song echo that of Trent Reznor circa The Downward Spiral.  He sings, “We all pray for the end/For the God to take us/We were falling down/One by one/We were weak/And the fear/Was all around us/The machines screamed from moon to sun.”  The musical and lyrical combination along with the obvious influences from across the rock world collectively make this song the perfect introduction to Numan for those that might be new to his music and an equally impressive re-introduction for those that are more familiar with his music.

For all of the dark, brooding songs that Gary Numan includes in his new album, he also tackles relationship issues in his own way.  He tackles the subject in the very Nine Inch Nails-esque ‘The Calling.’  Were a person to hear this song on the radio without knowing it was Gary Numan, one might actually think it was Nine Inch Nails because of how close it sounds to Trent Reznor’s work circa The Fragile.  The string arrangements and electronics set against Numan’s brooding lyrics make this song one of this album’s key moments.  Lyrically, there is little to this song.  But even in its few lyrics, Numan captures the emotion of someone that realizes that he or she has been nothing but a pawn in someone else’s game.  He writes in the song’s final verse, “You don’t love me/You don’t know me/Is this some kind of game for you/Is that why you’ve called me?” This is a situation to which plenty of audiences can relate.  Not everyone has gone through the situation presented in this song.

Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) is front loaded with more than its share of impressive new material from Gary Numan.  There is not one bad moment throughout the record’s near hour-long run time.  One of the highest of the records high points has already been noted here.  It isn’t the only of the album’s high points, either.  ‘We’re The Unforgiven’ is another of this album’s highest of points.  This song has a very obvious Nine Inch Nails influence both musically speaking and lyrically.  What’s so interesting about that is the contrast of the song’s musical and lyrical sides.  The song’s musical side is powerful to say the least.  That is thanks in large part to the manner in which each verse crescendos before dropping back.  That dynamic contrast alone would make this song work even without lyrics.  But set next to the song’s lyrical side, both the music and lyrics come together to make the song this album’s best song.  He writes about figures that were once great but are now pale shades of themselves.  He writes, “Once there was life/And we were strong/Full of pride/Once we bread fear/And we would take the flesh denied/Once we were gods/And all things knelt before our word/or died.”  Obviously, he is writing metaphorically here.  But the message is still the same. He goes on, writing in the song’s chorus, “Now we’re just a ruin/We were our undoing/We’re the unforgiven.”  This is a powerful statement.  And again, set alongside the song’s musical side, it becomes even more powerful.  Together, they make this song just one more of so many standout moments shared by Gary Numan throughout his new record.  Fans overseas in the Middle East and Europe will get to experience these songs and many more live beginning February 10th in Tel Aviv, Israel.  From there, Numan will make his way into Belgium and across Europe for the next leg of his tour in support of his new album.  Fans can get Gary Numan’s latest tour dates, news, and more online at http://www.facebook.com/GaryNumanOfficial and http://www.garynuman.com.  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.

UMe To Release New APC Hits Compilation Next Week

Courtesy:  Universal Music Enterprise

Courtesy: Universal Music Enterprise

Officials with Universal Music Enterprise have announced that the company will release a new hits collection from A Perfect Circle this Fall.  The new album, titled, Three-Sixty will be released via Universal Music Enterprise (Ume) on Tuesday, November 19th.  The album will be released in both a standard edition and an expanded deluxe edition.  Band co-founder Maynard James Keenan (Tool, Puscifer) discussed the upcoming hits package, explaining the band’s formation and how his relationship with friend Billy Howerdel (Ashes Divide) impacted the group’s upcoming compilation.  “Billy and I created A Perfect Circle out of a now long-running friendship, and I think the music we have made reflects that personal connection and has given us the ability to further develop and trust our intuition,” explained Keenan. “I feel Three Sixty is an accurate representation of that friendship and those instincts.”

Kennan and Howerdel formed A Perfect Circle in the 1990s.  They enlisted the help of a handful of other well-known musicians to help record their albums and join them on tour.  That list included: James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Troy Van Leeuwen (Queens of the Stone Age, Failure), Paz Lenchantin (Entrance Band, Zwan), Jeordie White (Marilyn Manson), Josh Freese (The Vandals, Devo) and Tim Alexander (Primus, Attention Deficit).  The band’s first album, Mer de Noms, was released in 2000.  It quickly went to Number Five on Billboard’s Top 200.  The band then topped itself in 2003 with the release of its sophomore record, Thirteenth Step.  That album would go on to debut at Number Two on Billboard’s Top 200.  The band’s third full length release, eMOTIVe, is the band’s most recent.  It was released on election day 2004.  It is a collection of cover songs that was completely re-worked by the band.  Since the release of that album, the band has been on hiatus, with its members working on their own primary projects.  In all, A Perfect Circle has sold over five million albums worldwide.

The standard edition of the band’s upcoming hits compilation will include thirteen tracks taken from its current catalogue.  The deluxe edition will include a bonus second disc that contains songs from eMOTIVe, as well as four live performances and songs from the band’s catalogue.  The track listing for both the standard and deluxe edition are listed below.

Three Sixty, both standard and deluxe editions, track listing:

Standard Edition

1. The Hollow

2. Judith

3. Orestes

4. 3 Libras

5. Weak And Powerless

6. The Noose

7. The Outsider

8. Blue

9. When The Levee Breaks

10. Imagine

11. Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums

12. Passive

13. By And Down

Deluxe Edition

Disc 1

1. The Hollow

2. Rose

3. Judith

4. Orestes

5. 3 Libras

6. The Package

7. Weak And Powerless

8. The Noose

9. The Outsider

10. Blue

Disc 2

1. Imagine

2. Passive

3. People Are People (live)

4. Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums

5. When The Levee Breaks

6. By And Down

7. 3 Libras (live)

8. Gravity (live)

9. Fiddle and The Drum (live)

 

The band’s upcoming hits compilation isn’t all that APC fans have to anticipate.  The band’s members have announced that also slated for release is a new limited edition box set titled A Perfect Circle Live: Featuring Stone and Echo.  The collection of songs focuses on the band’s 2010 – 2011 tour.  It includes a full-length DVD recording of the band’s August 2011 Red Rocks concert and a three-CD collection of live recordings.  Each recording is directly connected to each of the band’s three studio recordings.  The complete box set will be released Tuesday, November 26th.  It will only be available via the APC Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/aperfectcircle.    Fans can also go to the band’s Facebook page and official website, http://www.aperfectcircle.com for more on these releases, tour dates, and all things APC.  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.

Temple Of Thieves’ Debut One Of The Year’s Best Indie Records

Courtesy:  Goomba Music

Courtesy: Goomba Music

Temple Of Thieves’ debut full length album, Passing Through The Zer0s is one of the biggest surprise rock records of 2013.  This hard rocking four-piece has crafted in its debut record an album that is sure to get the attention of any rock radio station’s program director and audiences alike.  It’s eerie how much this band sounds like Tool.  Singer Michael Rock sounds just like Tool front man Maynard James Keenan.  And Rock’s band mates—Flo Mounier (drums), John Ehlers (guitars), and Chief Spires (bass)—each add to that feeling so much that if one were listening to T.O.T. on the radio and didn’t know it was them, one would think it was Tool, or Keenan’s other project, A Perfect Circle.

Right from the album’s opener, ‘In The Garden (Collecting Souls)’, audiences are pulled instantly into this album.  The band balances the song’s softer and heavier sections so expertly throughout that one can’t help but listen to hear what is coming next over its near six minute run time.  Rock’s vocals are just as hypnotic and powerful as Keenan’s throughout the song.  The solid bass line laid down by Spires and the haunting strains of Ehlers’ guitars in the song’s softer sections lull listeners into a false sense of security before the whole band launches into a full on assault that will blow listeners away in the noted heavier sections.  By the time the song’s final notes echo away, audiences will be hooked and eager to hear what is to come next.  Those audiences who wonder are rewarded with the equally heavy ‘Reaping.’

Rock doesn’t lose his Maynard James Keenan doppelganger vocals in ‘Reaper.’  However, listeners will notice a change of style in this song.  This time, audiences get an interesting Tool/Queensryche hybrid sound.  Again Spires and Ehlers shine, as does Mounier.  Right from the song’s intro, Ehlers shows his abilities once again, opting this time for more of a classic rock sound.  His solo hearkens back to rock’s golden age.  One can just see him point his guitar to the air, absolutely shredding the solo, even as short as it is.  And again, Mounier offers a solid backing to the band, keeping time while proving that he is just as talented as any of the biggest names in the drumming community.  He proves here and throughout the album that he can keep the band moving whether in the album’s bigger, more bombastic songs and in its seemingly more gentle moments, too.

The songs noted here comprise just a glance at everything that Temple of Thieves has to offer from its debut release.  The second half of Passing Through The Zer0s offers just as much enjoyment as the album’s first five tracks.  Listeners will enjoy songs such as: ‘Mr. Hixx’, the obviously ‘Sober’ inspired ‘Pull Me Under’ (not to be confused with Dream Theater’s song by the same name), and ‘Species.’  The latter of this trio of songs actually has a video that audiences can watch now via YouTube at http://youtu.be/reE0N1VMAeg.  The album will be available worldwide on Tuesday, May 7th.  And while no tour news has been announced yet, the band will likely be touring in support of the album.  To find out the latest tour news and more, fans can “Like” the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Temple-of-Thieves/163420943699857.  Fans can also Follow T.O.T. on the band’s official website, http://www.templeofthieves.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Templeofthieves

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.

Draiman, Device Far From Being Disturbed

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Records

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records

David Draiman is one of the most well known vocalists in the rock community today.  His animalistic sounding growls and seemingly Maynard James Keenan inspired vocal style make his a voice that is instantly noticeable when listeners hear it.  The problem is that just as Keenan’s side project, A Perfect Circle, was instantly compared to Tool because of Keenan’s iconic vocal style, so has Draiman’s new side project, Device, been compared to Disturbed.  While the first pair of tracks on Device’s self-titled debut do bear some semblance to material recorded by Disturbed, that similarity begins to fade early on.  The album’s third song, ‘Vilify’ has more of a pure rock sound.  Right from its opening verse, it impresses just as much lyrically as musically.  Draiman sings defiantly as the song opens, “As you vilify/Every single move that I make/And try to bind me/In your insanity/You’ll come to know/That you never had control/from the onset/Go find another lapdog, f***er.”  The defiance doesn’t stop here.  The verbal assault against those who would run their mouths seemingly just to run their mouths runs nonstop through the song with full on intensity that is sure to get the blood and body flowing.

If there was still any question of comparison to Disturbed even in ‘Vilify’, then those comparisons will be erased even more in the album’s very next song, ‘Close My Eyes Forever.’ Some might cringe at this, but it almost comes across as a ballad style piece, especially with the addition of vocalist Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) give it even more of that sense.  And if that’s not proof enough, one need only look at the song’s lyrical content as argument for that comparison.  Lyrically speaking, it comes across as a song of lost love.  Draiman and Hale sing here, “I know I’ve been so hard to you/I know I’ve told you lies/If I could have just one more wish/I’d wipe the cobwebs from my eyes.”  This one song isn’t reason for anyone to worry, as it’s the only time through the course of the album’s ten tracks that the album’s intensity drops off. 

The intensity built early on in Device’s self-titled debut picks back up not long after ‘Close My Eyes Forever.’  What’s more, as the intensity rebuilds through the album’s second half so does the separation of Device from Disturbed.  It all starts on ‘Out of Line.’  This socio-political piece offers a solid mix of electronics and heavy, foot-stomping, head banging guitar breaks that would make any metal purist proud.  And the inclusion of Serj Tankian’s (System of a Down) equally distinct vocal style adds even more musical flavor to this song.  One can’t ignore the addition of Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) on this track, either.  The mix of music, star power, and lyrical heaviness makes it just one more of so many tracks from which listeners will be able to choose as a favorite.  The intensity and separation from the band members’ primary bands builds even more in ‘Opinion.’  The guest guitar work of Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) is surprisingly unlike what Morello has recorded with his other side projects.  And it definitely helps to maintain this song’s identity from anything even remotely related to Disturbed.  It is one of those pieces that has to be heard to fully understand this.

If the guest appearances from Tom Morello, Geezer Butler, and Serj Tankian aren’t enough to convince listeners as to the identity of Device, then perhaps ‘War of Lies’ and the album’s closer, ‘Through It All’ will do the job.  The heavy bass and vocals from Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) mixed with Draiman’s vocals make this one of the album’s more surprisingly interesting songs.  That’s because of the fact that the song starts off very slow and deliberate.  But a little more than halfway through the song, it picks up, and carries the listener up to the song’s final fading moments.  Those moments are just subtle enough to allow listeners to catch their breath after the musical rollercoaster on which they have just taken a ride.  And having caught their breath, any listener that went into this album thinking it would be just another Disturbed record will have seen that that belief was in fact completely wrong.  While it might have started out with some similarity to Disturbed, that similarity is soon erased, and a new band with a sound that bears only the slightest closeness to the prior arises.  It definitely turns out to be a record that any fan of Disturbed and any hard rock fan in general will want to check out at least once.   

Device is currently touring in support of its self-titled debut.  Among some of its more notable scheduled concert dates are performances at the “Welcome to Rockville” Festival on April 28th in Jacksonville Florida, the Carolina Rebellion Festival in Rockingham, North Carolina on May 4th, and the famed Rock on the Range Festival in Columbus, Ohio on May 19th.  The band has even more dates that audiences can find out about when they “Like” Device on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Devicetheband.  Audiences will also find a link to download the band’s album via iTunes on the Facebook page.  That link is http://smarturl.it/deviceitunes for those that may not be able to get to the band’s FB page.

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.