Confess’ New Single Presents An Intense And Intensely Positive Message

Courtesy:  Opposite Records

Courtesy: Opposite Records

Generally when one thinks of Iran, one’s thoughts instantly lean towards all of the latest major news headlines–the nation’s deal to curb its nuclear output, terrorism, etc. So it goes without saying that when a band rises from what is said to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world and takes a stand against all of the negativity surrounding its home nation, it is a band well worth hearing. Enter Confess. The Tehran, Iran-based band has just released its latest single ‘See You Other Side.’ And in hearing the song, It is a powerful new statement from the band.

According to its official Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ConfessBand, it takes its influences from the realms of metalcore, NWOAHM, and Thrash. Each of those influences is clear in the band’s new single, which can be heard online now via SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/confess1. Right from the opening bars of the nearly five-minute opus, the band launches into a full on assault that hints at the likes of Hatebreed, The Haunted, Overkill, and a number of others. That is especially thanks to the work of front man and founding member Nikan Khosravi. According to the band’s official Facebook page, Khosravi handles lead vocal duties as well as guitars and bass. If that is indeed him on guitars in this song, then he is to be highly applauded as his work instantly grabs listeners and refuses to let go. It throws back to the great thrash numbers of the late 80s that once made thrash such a great subgenre of the rock world. Khosravi’s vocals are just as intense, conjuring thoughts of the one and only Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Superjoint Ritual) and to a slightly lesser extent, Crowbar frontman Kirk Windstein among others. DJ/sampler/engineer Arash “Chemical” Ilkhani plays his own important role along with the band’s recording drummer Samir “Outsider” Malikoglou. While Ilkhani’s role is not as large in this song as Confess’ other work, it still is important in its own right regardless. All parts combined here, ‘See You Other Side’ proves in regards to its musical content to be a piece that any hardcore fan will appreciate. It shows that great hardcore and great rock in general can come from any part of the world; even the most war-torn corners of the world.

Having noted the impressive nature of ‘See You Other Side’s musical content, the next logical step is to examine the song’s lyrical content. Khosravi noted of the song’s lyrical content that it is meant to be a response to all of the negativity surrounding the communities of the Middle East. They are meant not to be negative but to serve as a starting point to give listeners hope amidst all of the bleakness surrounding them. That is made clear right from the song’s opening verse as Khosravi screams, “Destruction of underestimation/Hope and dreams are weapons of the war/Rejection of conclusion/Wash away your eyes from the tears.” That verse alone speaks volumes. It comes across as saying that amid all of the strife and suffering, hope and dreams can be used to fight all of that negativity. Rejection of conclusion/Wash away your eyes from the tears is just as clear. He comes across as telling listeners to not give in to the sense of hopelessness and desperation brought on by everything going on. The irony here is that while these lyrics may be in response largely to the situation in the Middle East, they could apply just as much to any other part of the world.

The opening verse of ‘See You Other Side’ offers a clear understanding of the message being conveyed by Confess in its latest single. While its lyrics paint a picture that is clear enough, the song’s closing verse makes that message even more obvious as Khosravi screams, “Hating me for being someone’s loved one?/You never know what it feels like when your duty’s done/The negative thirteen/Plus the positive thoughts/My tongue is a trigger/And my brain is a gun/You’d better run/That’s right.” The line in which Khosravi notes a person not knowing “what it feels like” when his or her “duty is done” seems to verbally attack the suicide bombers and their twisted mentalities. His continued thoughts concerning the power of positive thoughts both emotionally and mentally in the verse’s closing line presents a message that is just as optimistic for listeners. That is especially obvious as he writes in the song’s previous verse, “My scars are bleeding out too fast/They are deep/Deep as my last breath/My mind’s bruised/I’ll start first global war of wrath/We feel the same as you/Try to send it back at last.” One can only assume that these lines make reference to the brainwashing that so many younger people in the Middle East go through by those extremist groups. That being assumed, it can be inferred that these lines set against the more optimistic vibe of the song’s closing lines that Khosravi is telling his listeners that they don’t have to listen to that brainwashing; that there is hope out there and better things than what the extremists are trying to get them to do. It is a good final message for fans in this song. Together with the song’s intense musical content, the song’s collective lyrical content makes the song a work that proves that even from the worst situations, great things can rise. It is a message that he entire Middle East needs just as much as other nations of the world. Given the chance, it will spread and it will rise, making itself and the band in whole the push that the world needs to win the war on terror once and for all.

‘See You Other Side’ is a powerful new work from Iran’s Confess. The intensity of the song’s musical content will make any metal purist proud; especially those purists that are fans of the thrash and hardcore realms. The song’s lyrical content gives the song even more punch. Both elements assembled together, they make ‘See You Other Side’ a message that given the chance could inspire listeners both in the band’s home country and in countries around the world and in turn begin to help turn the tide in the war on terror just as much as entertain. Audiences can, again, hear ‘See You Other Side’ now online via SoundCloud at http://www.soundcloud.com/confess1. More information on the band’s new single is available online now along with all of the latest news from the band at http://www.facebook.com/ConfessBand. 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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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SLS Exhibits Real Depth And Power On Its New EP

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Straight Line Stitch has gone through quite a bit since its infancy back in 1999.  The band has gone through not only a change of sound since then but also a change of its lineup, too.  Throughout it all, the band has persevered, putting out a total of four EPs, three full-length studio releases, and seven singles along the way.  This month, the band will put out its eighth overall release.  That release, Transparency, will be the band’s fourth EP.  For those that might not be so familiar with Straight Line Stitch, this record proves to be an interesting work thanks both to its musical and lyrical content.  The record’s musical content is an interesting mix of melodic hard rock and metalcore.  The album’s lyrical content makes for its own interest, too as much of it seems to come from a very personal place.  That is exemplified in the defiant ‘Wilderness’ and ‘Out of Body,’ and the pummeling ‘Face of God.’  The lyrical content of those songs coupled with the equally powerful musical content of each proves all three to be key examples of what SLS has to offer on its latest recording.  Coupled with the EP’s other two full-length songs and one intro track, all six tracks collectively show Transparency a good introduction to SLS’ new fans and an equally welcome return for those that have followed the band since its earliest days.

Straight Line Stitch’s upcoming EP Transparency is a good introduction to the band for its new fans and an equally welcome return for its long-time fans.  That is thanks in large part to both its musical and lyrical content of each of the disc’s compositions.  While it technically only boasts five full-length tracks (the opener is a fifty-seven second piece that ties directly in to the album’s first full-length track ‘Dark Matter’) Transparency offers audiences a solid listening experience from beginning to end.  One song that exemplifies how much Transparency has to offer audiences is the defiant ‘Wilderness.’  The musical content of ‘Wilderness’ is in itself worth the note.  The song’s musical content is a full-on, high adrenaline composition driven largely by guitarists Jason White and Jackie Bergjans, and single-letter-named drummer “D.”  The overlap of the heavier lead guitar line and the more driving rhythm guitar line in the song’s verses set against the harmonies established in the chorus presents a solid foundation for the song.  “D”’s work behind the kit is just as noteworthy considering the drummer’s ability to mix such intense polyrhythmic patterns with the song’s base time keeping.  Vocalist Alexis Brown rounds out the song with her ability to switch so easily between her clean (singing) vocal delivery and her more ferocious screaming side.  Speaking of that ability to switch between the two vocal styles, she utilizes that ability quite well to deliver the song’s lyrical message, screaming in the song’s lead verse, “No one to help me/How bad I really felt/I suffered/You tried to save yourself/I’m not in my coffin you won’t carry me/The ground on which I walk/You try to bury me/I wait ever so patiently/For the day when you go astray/It’s my place that you will take/And your fate will be cast away.”  The fury in her voice does an impressive job of accentuating the anger and determination that are on display here.  In the same fashion, Brown’s clean vocals are just as effective in the song’s chorus as she sings, “And I know exactly where I’m at/When everything is black/Let the brightness of day/Help me find my way.”  This is a direct contrast to the song’s lead verse (and its other verses).  The power in Brown’s delivery coupled with her tone serves well to help illustrate the subject’s positive outlook on life despite all of the negativity that one and maybe still surrounds him or her.  Brown and her band mates continue on in much the same fashion through the rest of the song.  That constant musical and vocal contrast of the song’s chorus and verses that is utilized throughout the remainder of the song paints a picture of a strong individual.  It is a picture of a person that has endured and still endures so much, yet still looks forward metaphorically speaking despite all of the trials and tribulations out there.  It is a picture that could serve to help so many listeners.  Because it could and because of the well-balanced musical and lyrical content that makes up the song, it shows clearly in itself has plenty to offer audiences.  It’s just one example of how much Transparency has to offer audiences, too.  ‘Out of Body,’ another equally defiant (or at least seemingly defiant) song also shows how much this new EP has to offer audiences.

‘Out Of Body’ is another good example of how much Transparency has to offer audiences regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the band and its body of work.  Much as with ‘Wilderness,’ this song exhibits a defiant figure, too.  The difference between the two is the song’s overall delivery both musically and lyrically.  Musically speaking, this song puts on display the band’s melodic hard rock sound.  There are no down-tuned, crunching guitars anywhere to speak of here.  And Brown’s own vocal delivery is just as powerful in its almost haunting style.  She sings in the song’s chorus, “Hurt me no more/I will endure/Stone me and dethrone me/You cannot/Cannot hold me.”  There is a certain power both in her delivery here and in her band mates’ own delivery of their lines.  It comes across as a figure sitting at that early stage of revelation, realizing that things have gone so wrong, but also realizes that he or she will no longer allow things to continue on in the same fashion anymore.  What is really interesting here is the song’s second verse in which Brown sings, “I am so weak and your strength makes me shake/Something that I see in you makes my heart break/Break down these walls/You cannot hold me at all.”  It is just this critic’s interpretation.  But those first two lines seem to paint a picture of someone looking back at perhaps a physically and maybe even verbally abusive relationship.  Yet even in seeing that, the song’s subject is still determined to break free of the relationship since it was obviously rather toxic in one way or another.  Again, the softer delivery of this verse and the song’s other verses juxtaposed against the more confident musical and vocal delivery of the chorus paints quite the picture just as with ‘Wilderness.’  The picture in question is one more example of what makes Transparency a good first impression for the band’s new fans and an equally welcome return for its long-time fans.

Both ‘Out of Body’ and ‘Wilderness’ show in their own unique way just how much Transparency has to offer listeners. They do so through the use of their musical and lyrical content and in the balance of both elements within each song. They really show a band and record that doesn’t stick to just one sound from one point to the next. While both songs do quite the job of putting on display the band’s versatility on this record, they still are only two parts of the whole that exhibit that versatility. ‘Face of God,’ the disc’s fourth track, is perhaps the single strongest example of the band’s versatility on this record. Its musical content mixes both the band’s melodic hard rock influences with its more metalcore influences for a four-minute-plus piece that will leave listeners breathless just from that hybrid sound alone. The song’s lyrical content adds even more interest with its obvious metaphorical style. Brown writes in the song’s opening verse, “Grant me breath and watch me come alive/Give me strength I will survive/The feast is over/Now it’s time to flee/All my enemies here to devour me.” She goes on to write in the chorus, “I could have prayed/But I never stopped believing/I know you stayed/Even when I said I’m leaving/Don’t turn your face/Escape this place/Escape this hell.” Given the lead verse and the chorus, which is later repeated, Brown has presented a song that will definitely generate discussion. The only thing that can be ascertained from these lyrics is that they come from the vantage point of someone that in a difficult emotional situation. The song’s second verse makes things even more interesting as Brown writes, “You never see me/I never make a sound/I’ve been here/I’ve been hiding underground/Release, relieve I still believe/Restore, renew the lost and the confused/Rebuild, resolve the feud that kills us all.” Yet again, audiences are left to interpret for themselves what perhaps may or may not be the message here. It could in fact be a commentary of sorts. Or it could even be a personal introspective piece. Regardless, the matter of its depth coupled with the sheer power of the song’s musical backing makes clear why this song is one more of Transparency’s best songs. It is also one more example of how much this EP has to offer audiences both long-time and those that might not be so familiar with the band’s body of work. Taken into consideration with the previously noted songs, all three show collectively why metalcore fans and those of melodic hard rock alike will want to hear this record at least once when it is released later this month. That is not to discount the disc’s opener and closer ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘Human Bondage’ either. Both tracks serve their own purpose in the whole of Transparency, too. Together with the pieces noted here, the record in whole proves to be one of this year’s best new EPs.

Straight Line Stitch’s latest release Transparency only boasts five full-length tracks. This aside, it exhibits quite a bit of depth and power both in terms of its musical and lyrical content. Taking into consideration that depth and power, it is safe to say that this record is an easy candidate for a slot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new EPs. Transparency comes out later this month in stores and online. Fans will also get to pick it up at the band’s live shows as the band is currently touring in support of the record. Audiences can check out all of the band’s tour dates and latest updates online now via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/straightlinestitch.

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.

Phinehas’ New EP Good For New Fans And Old

Courtesy:  Red Cord Records

Courtesy: Red Cord Records

Phinehas will release its new EP, The Bridge Between next Tuesday, January 22nd.  The band’s new EP is a collection of songs from two of its previous releases, thegodmachine (2011) and The Phinehas EP (2009).  For fans that are new to this band, the best way to describe it is to imagine taking the best elements of As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, and Shadows Fall, and mixing them together in a giant musical mixing pot.  The band’s vocalist, Sean McCullough is right up there with the likes of Brain Fair (Shadows Fall) and Tim Lambesis (As I Lay Dying).  Guitarist Jason Combs’ chops could easily be compared to the work of guitarists from the aforementioned bands.  And drummer and bassist Lee Humerian and Bryce Kelley respectively hold their own throughout all seven of the tracks compiled for this latest release from the La Mirada, CA based Christian metallers.

What’s most intriguing about this collection of previously released songs is that it shows that just as the band is capable within the realm of the fast, technical metalcore style sound, it is just as capable playing slower, more emotional music, too.  The EP’s first three tracks are a nonstop metal assault, opening solidly with the song, ‘Panhammer.’  The band wastes little time getting its audiences moving here with guitars and drums that instantly kick things into gear.  The way that drummer Lee Humerian and guitarist Jason Combs combine their talents will have audiences on their feet and pumping their fists from the song’s very first seconds.  And they barely let up if at all from there.  Musically, fans will be on their feet without stopping throughout the EP’s first three tracks.  The second half of the EP however, will have the exact opposite impact.  It shows the band’s deeper, more introspective side.  There are even points at which [Sean] McCullough even sounds like Corey Taylor (Stone Sour, Slipknot) in ‘Enkindler.’  And the subtlety of Combs’ guitar underneath McCullough’s vocals adds to the song’s power.  Jeff Darcy at Relic Recording brought that combination of sounds to life.  He shows that he has quite the ear in managing to balance the combination even in an acoustic song.  He is definitely to be commended for that.

There’s no doubt that the songs included on Phinehas’ new EP will impress audiences of both the band and of the “Christian Metal” and metalcore genres.  Longtime fans will largely be getting songs from the band’s previous releases in this new release.  Though the band’s acoustic takes on its previously released songs give an interesting new perspective on the songs.  That being the case, it makes an especially good start for anyone who is new to the music of Phinehas.  The songs noted here are just portions of what the band offers on its new EP.  Audiences will get the chance to hear the entire record for themselves next Tuesday, January 22nd courtesy of Red Cord Records.  Audiences will also have the chance to hear the band live as it will be performing a handful of shows beginning January 20th in Salt Lake City, Utah.  To get a full listing of performance dates, audiences can check out the band online at http://www.facebook.com/Phinehasrock and http://phinehas.us.  Fans can also follow the band on Twitter at http://twitter.com/phinehasband

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Honour Crest’s New EP Will Impress Industrial Rock Audiences

Courtesy: Indianola Records

Honour Crest’s new full length release, Metrics is a work that established fans of this band will likely enjoy.  The Virginia Beach, VA based band continues its tradition of melding electronics and heavier metalcore sounds to make a sound similar to that of Fear Factory, Spineshank, and Crossbreed.  One of the best examples of the band’s abilities on this release is in its new single, ‘Horcrux.’  Not only does it impress with its melding of electronic elements and its more metal side, but lyrically, it breaks the mold of the standard relationship based songs.  Front man Lucas Borza writes in this song, “We cannot give in/No matter what they will tell us/Our hearts were made to withstand/We cannot give in/No matter what/They will test us/and push us/To the very edge/We cannot give in.”  It’s a very empowering song that will appeal not only to younger listeners, but even to older audiences as there will always be those who will test us and push us to the edge, just as the song’s chorus notes.  The combination of this song’s lyrics and music makes it easily one of the best tracks on this release.

The band impresses just as much on the album’s opener, ‘Flux.’  Again, it carries a theme of personal strength mixed with a balance of electronics and harder edged metalcore sounds.  Borza writes in this song, “Stop/Hold your ground/Our enemies can never/Breach these walls/I persevere/In a place that has no cover.”  Again, there is that sense of self assurance and empowerment. That positive message, mixed with the musical backing of the song will make it another fan favorite.

Metrics boasts even more interesting tracks than just this pair.  For example, the pairing of ‘Interlude’, which comes in at just under a minute and a half, and ‘Search and Seizure’ sound like they could have easily fit onto the soundtrack to Disney’s Tron Legacy.  Forget the lyrical content.  The musical side of this combination makes for another high point to this EP.  Metrics is available now in stores and online.  It can be downloaded via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/metrics/id564027702.  Fans will also get the chance to hear the band’s music live as it is touring in support of the new release.  The band will be performing in Richmond, VA today, and then follow that with a home town show tomorrow in Virginia Beach.  The band will also be in Raleigh, North Carolina for its NC based fans on Sunday, November 4th.Fans can get a full tour listing and all the latest from the band online at http://www.facebook.com/honourcrest

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VOD’s New LP One Of Its Best, One Of 2012’s Best

Courtesy: Candlelight Records

Vision of Disorder is one of the progenitors of an entire genre of metal.  This Long Island, NY based band is really to thank for the popularity of metalcore and so much more of what goes on today in the metal community.  Being that it was so far ahead of its time, it’s no wonder that the band ended up breaking up at one point.   But thankfully, the band has reunited and released an album in The Cursed Remain Cursed that is easily one of the best metal/hard rock albums of 2012.Next to Hellyeah’s Band of Brothers, VOD’s new record is that extra shot of adrenaline that the metal community has needed for so long.  Far too often bands that have broken up have come back with loads up hype, but have failed to live up to said hype.  That’s not the case here.  This LP is a take no prisoners album that comes at listeners from the very opening moments of ‘Loveless’ and doesn’t let up its attack a single bit throughout the rest of its run time.  Whereas the band’s earlier works were rife with raw energy, the band has seemed to take that energy on this album and really direct it in a precise direction.  Tim Williams’ vocals are as strong as ever.  As powerful Williams’ vocals are, one can see where Chimaira vocalist Mark Hunter might have gotten the influence for his vocal style.

The speed/thrash style churned out by the band on ‘Annihilator’ is just one of so many examples of what makes this album such a solid piece.  Again, Williams’ vocals are as strong as ever.  Add in the razor sharp guitar work of Matt Baumbach and Mike Kennedy and drummer Brendon Cohen’s equally impressive drumming, and audiences get one of the album’s highest of highs, musically speaking.  ‘The Enemy’ is much in the same vein.  It has those precise guitars.  What’s interesting here is that Williams actually tries his hand a little bit at singing, along with his screaming vocals.  Surprisingly, it works, too, making for a totally different musical environment in those sections in which he sings.

VOD has so much more to offer its listeners on this album than what can be noted here.  And fans will get to hear even more from the band as it’s currently touring in support of its new album.  The band is performing in Worcester, MA today.  They’re being joined by Misfits, Shadows Fall, This is Hell, and Freya.  The band’s next performance after today’s show is next Friday in Amityville, NY.  Fans can get a full tour itinerary online at http://www.facebook.com/VisionOfDisorder.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.