‘Trivium Has Crafted One Of Its Best Albums And One Of The Year’s Top New Hard Rock & Metal Albums In ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’

Courtesy: Roadrunner Records

Veteran metal act Trivium is a band whose members clearly do not let a lot of grass grow under their feet.  A little more than a year after the band released its then most recent album, What The Dead Men Say, the band released another album, this time in the form of In The Court of the Dragon.  Its release Oct. 8 came on the heels of an extensive tour with Lamb of God, Megadeth, and Hatebreed, and leading into upcoming shows on Slipknot’s annual Knotfest.  One would think that with that tour and everything going on with the COVID-19 pandemic, the band would not have turned out this impressive record so soon, but somehow it managed to do just that.  The album is a strong new return from the band, too.  That is evidenced through its musical arrangements and lyrical themes alike.  ‘Like a Sword Over Damocles,’ one of the album’s early entries, does well to prove that true.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘The Shadow of the Abattior’ is another example of how this record’s musical and lyrical content make the album so interesting.  It will be examined a little later.  ‘The Phalanx,’ the album’s latest single and its finale, is one more way in which the album’s overall content shows the record’s strength.  It will also be examined later.  When this song and all of the others featured in this 52-minute record are considered together, they make In The Court of the Dragon one of the best of Trivium’s albums to date.

Trivium’s recently released album, In The Court of the Dragon, is among the best of the band’s records to date.  The band’s 10th album, it offers much for audiences to appreciate through its musical and lyrical content alike.  ‘Like A Sword Over Damocles,’ one of the album’s early entries, does well in itself to support the noted statement.  The five-and-a-half minute song’s musical arrangement is a full-on modern metal opus that will appeal to even the most diehard metal purists.  The opening riff and chants conjure thoughts of doom metal before things change and the arrangement turns more decidedly in a radio friendly direction.  That is due in part to the melodic hard rock choruses, which are comparable to the choruses from so many Sevendust songs.  Yes that’s quite a range, but it is definitely there, at least in the ears and mind of this critic.  The whole is a fully immersive composition, complete with raging guitar solo, that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  The lyrical theme that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement makes for its own interest.

According to comments from guitarist Corey Beaulieu, the theme here is lifted from the original story of the Sword of Damocles, who traded places with King Donysius II of Syracuse.  Damocles learned a valuable lesson about virtue in the end.  Beaulieu said of his thought that stemmed from his research into the story, “What happens when the person who’s questioning you has your job and responsibility?”  He added that bassist Paolo Gregoletto built on that concept and the pair came up with the final lyrical presentation.  The influence of that story is evident throughout the song’s lyrical presentation.  Just as interesting is that it is a story that even in this format, will resonate with any listener because such situation rises in the real world daily.  Keeping that in mind, the lyrical theme and musical arrangement together make clear why ‘Like A Sword Over Damocles’ is a strong example of the power of this album’s overall content.  It is just one of the ways in which the album’s strength is displayed.  ‘The Shadow of the Abattoir’ does its own share to show why this album shines.

‘The Shadow of the Abattoir’ is, while not the album’s longest song, one of its longest.  It clocks in at seven minutes, 12 seconds.  Over the course of that time, the song takes listeners in a range of directions, opening with a classic metal style sound in its contemplative approach.  Front man Matt Heafy’s vocal delivery is one of the most interesting points of the song’s musical arrangement.  That is because the richness and bass in his voice sits somewhere between Metallica front man James Hetfield and Slipknot/Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor.  Again, yes, it sounds like quite the range, but it is there, and it makes for reason enough to hear this song, too.  When this is all considered against the song’s more fiery verses, the contrast between verse and chorus makes the song even more interesting in its musical side.  It is just part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content adds to the song’s interest, too.

It should be noted at this point that the band openly stated that the album’s lyrical content is based on mythologies that its members developed due to their own interest in literary mythology.  That aside, the songs still manage to relate to audiences.  This song’s lyrical content continues to prove that in its chorus as Heafy sings, “Don’t go searching for the battle/You won’t find any beasts to slay/You’ll rip yourself to pieces/You’ll drive yourself insane/In the shadow of the abattoir.”  An abattoir being a slaughterhouse, one cannot help but wonder which myth led to this kind of content.  That aside, the very message still connects with listeners.  In this case, the message comes across as being that of not going to look for trouble, because when you go looking for it, you will find it, just not in the way you might think.  You might find your own trouble in yourself.  The verses seem to build on that message as each finds the subjects in bad situations because they apparently went looking for those situations so to speak.  From the snow covering a path in the song’s lead verse, to people apparently succumbing to the sun and its heat in the song’s second verse, to a ship singing after going through dark waters in the third verse, these are all situations in which people found themselves in trouble because they put themselves in such situations.  This is all just this critic’s interpretation.  Hopefully it is somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  If so, then it further shows why the album’s overall content makes the record so worth hearing.  It is hardly the last of the record’s most notable songs, too.  ‘The Phalanx,’ which closes out the album, is one more way in which the record’s musical and lyrical content combines to show the LP’s strength.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘The Phalanx’ opens in a decidedly almost orchestral metal fashion before soon transitioning into a more pure metal approach.  The seven minute, 16 second’s opening movement lends itself to comparisons to works from Megadeth and Avenged Sevenfold what with the guitars and vocal delivery style and sound. As the song progresses, it eventually returns to the more symphonic metal style approach and sound used in the arrangement’s opening bars, leading to something of an ABA pattern here.  The whole of the composition is a powerful presentation that will engage and entertain audiences easily in its own right.  When it is considered along with the song’s lyrical content, the whole becomes even more powerful.

In the case of this song’s lyrical theme, it comes across as a story of a man who sees the fallacy of war.  It would be interesting to know what myth the band came up with for this story and from what myth the band got its inspiration for the song.  Regardless, the way in which the song’s subject makes his revelation clear is moving.  Considering the mood that the song’s arrangement sets, that revelation gains even more power.  The combination makes the song stand out that much more as a key example of how much this album has to offer audiences.  When this song and the others examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole shows that much more why In The Court of the Dragon successful.  All in all the album proves to be, again, one of the band’s best records to date.

Trivium’s recently released 10th album, In The Court of the Dragon is among the best of the band’s albums to date.  Its strength comes through its musical and lyrical content alike.  That is proven through all three of the songs examined here, one of which is among the album’s current singles.  When it is considered along with the album’s other singles, the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes the album one of the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums. 

In The Court of the Dragon is available now through Roadrunner Records. More information about Trivium’s new single, video and tour schedule is available along with all of Trivium’s latest news and more at:




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‘Symbol of Salvation Live’ Is A Wonderful Tribute To One Of Armored Saint’s Most Important Albums

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Armored Saint’s 1991 album, Symbol of Salvation was a pivotal moment in the band’s history.  The band’s fourth album at the time of its release, it was also the first for the band on Metal Blade Records.  This after the band had been dropped by its previous label, Chrysalis Records.  The band had released its first three albums on that label.  The album would also be the band’s last with the late Dave Prichard.  Prichard died of leukemia in 1990, prior to the album’s release, leaving a clear hole in the band’s lineup and collective hearts.  That gave the completion of the album a whole new meaning.  It went on to be considered by audiences and critics alike “a turning point” for Armored Saint.  As a matter of fact, it ended up being so important a part of the band’s catalog that it was re-issued in 2003 in an expanded package with interviews and music videos.  Now Friday, the band will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the album’s release with a live recording featuring the band performing the album in whole.  It will come in the form of Symbol of Salvation Live through Metal Blade, fittingly.  The recording stands out in part because of the approach taken to the concert, which will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance thereof is also of note and will be discussed a little later.  The recording’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, they make Symbol of Salvation Live one more of this year’s top new live recordings.

Armored Saint’s forthcoming live recording, Symbol of Salvation Live is an impressive new offering from the band.  The group’s third full-length live recording (the first came in 1988 in Saints Will Conquer and the second in 2017 in the form of Carpe Noctum), this recording will appeal easily to the band’s established audiences and to hard rock audiences in general.  The appeal comes in part through the fact that the concert is a celebration of that one album, Symbol of Salvation.  Given, Armored Saint is hardly the first band to ever use a concert or tour to focus on one album, but that does not reduce the enjoyment by any means.  Again, .  Given, Armored Saint is hardly the first band to ever use a concert or tour to focus on one album, but that does not reduce the enjoyment by any means.  Again, Symbol of Salvation is a key moment in the history of Armored Saint’s life.  To that end, celebrating a record that was both a new birth for the band and a heavy emotional moment because of the loss of one of its own is fully justified.  Not to mention that it was also a turning point stylistically for the band.  If anything is interesting, it is the fact that the concert featured in the recording was held in 2018, three years prior to the 30th anniversary of the album’s release.  No explanation was ever given about that aspect by Metal Blade Records or the band.  Regardless, having the entire, landmark album in one setting from both parties here is still enjoyable.  It is one more way for audiences to celebrate the album and the band without worrying about COVID-19 and any restrictions caused therewith.  Audiences can instead just enjoy the concert in the comfort and safety of their own homes regardless of which side they take on that discussion.  It is just one part of what makes the recording, which barely tops the one-hour mark, a positive presentation.  The band’s performance throughout the concert adds its own positive touch to the presentation.

The performance of Armored Saint’s band members throughout this performance is of note because those performances individually and collectively do their own part to immerse audiences in the show.  Front man John Bush (who recently talked about being pursued by Metallica many years ago for a spot in their band) is the classic front man from beginning to end.  Whether it is in the mid-song moments when he is interacting with the audience, or the moments when he leads the band (and audience) along in song, his power and swagger is fully evident.  Drummer Gonzo Sandoval keeps time solidly through every high-energy performance, making sure each song keeps moving expertly from start to end.  Guitarists Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan pair just as well together, creating a wonderful point/counterpoint that is exceptionally accented throughout by the work of bassist Joey Vera.

Speaking of Vera, he credited the audience with bringing out the best in the band in a recently released prepared statement.

“The vibe in the room was so great,” he said.  “The fans made us feel so welcome, like we had come home for a celebration of sorts, and we all celebrated Symbol of Salvation.  It gave me chills hearing people sing along to songs like ‘Burning Question,’ a song we never had played live before.”

In other words, Vera is saying that the band fed off of the audience’s energy.  This is evident through each musician’s performance, too.  The band gives back the energy given to it as a group by the audience.  It gives the audience the full best of itself in each song’s performance, leaving no question that the performance overall is everything that audiences had hoped for from the band.  This is just one more way in which the recording shines.  The concert’s production rounds out its most important elements.

The production that went into the concert is important to examine because of the venue’s size.  In watching the concert’s video, it is clear that the concert hall was somewhat intimate.  It was hardly a stadium or arena.  That means that the utmost attention had to be paid to the audio mix.  Additionally, it meant that just as much attention had to be paid to the cameras.  Even with the somewhat confined space, the cameras were still able to capture the concert, giving audiences the best seat in the house.  The audio is expertly mixed.  The result is that it really captures the venue’s size so well while also ensuring no one audio element outweighed the others.  The aesthetic impact is positive in its own right.  The black and white presentation is an artistic thing in the video, but it also plays into that aesthetic impact.  It isn’t done in some overly artsy fashion to the point that it’s annoying.  There is just something about the attention to this aspect that makes it feel like one big music video and concert in one in all of the best ways possible.  On a related note, the cameras catch the concert in every positive angle, too.  The editing that went into the post production plays with the camera work in that it makes sure each shot is just long enough to not leave audiences dizzied.  Instead it works with the production from the cameras to fully capture the energy in the band’s performance and from the audience.  The short and simple here is that the production puts the final stamp on this recording, ensuring in its own way that audiences will remain engaged and entertained throughout the concert.  When the overall production is considered along with the band’s performance and the concert’s approach, the whole makes the recording in whole another wonderful new offering from Armored Saint.

Armored Saint’s forthcoming live recording, Symbol of Salvation Live is a strong new addition to this year’s field of new live recordings.  It offers plenty for audiences to appreciate, beginning with the very approach taken to the performance.  The performance celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of the band’s 1991 album, Symbol of Salvation.  Yes, having originally been recorded in 2018, three years prior to the anniversary, it is still a great way to celebrate the anniversary.  The band’s performance is solid from beginning to end.  Each musician gives his all and then some.  As Vera noted, that is due in part to the fact that the audience gave its all, too.  The recording’s overall production ensures that the concert experience is just as enjoyable in its forthcoming home release.  That is thanks to the expert work that went into the concert’s initial recording and post.  It collectively gives audiences the best seat in the house.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Symbol of Salvation Live one more of this year’s top new live recordings.

Symbol of Salvation Live is scheduled for release Friday through Metal Blade Records. More information on Symbol of Salvation Live is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:




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Aftershock Festival 2021 Performance Times Announced

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

Organizers of the annual Aftershock Festival have announced the schedule for this year’s installment of the annual event.

Now in its ninth year, the festival is actually a rescheduled event from 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the event to be re-scheduled last year. As with its 2019 edition, this year’s installment of the Aftershock Festival is officially sold out. It is scheduled to take place this weekend from Thursday to Sunday at Discovery Park in Sacramento, CA.

The festival grounds are located at 1600 Garden Highway. Sacramento, CA.

Attendees at this year’s festival will be required to follow strict COVID-19 guidelines. Those guidelines are noted here.

The 2021 edition of the Aftershock Festival is scheduled to open at 4:25 p.m. ET Thursday with a performance by Oxymorrons, on the Coors Light Stage. Fit For A King follows at 4:50 p.m. on the Jack Daniel’s Stage. Death Angel and Exodus will follow Oxymorrons at 5:25 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively on the Coors Light Stage. Meanwhile back on the Jack Daniel’s Stage, Knocked Loose is scheduled to follow Fit For A King at 5:55 p.m.

From there, Anthrax, Testamentand Cypress Hill will keep the music going between the two stages. Cypress Hill’s performance on the Jack Daniel’s Stage at 8:50 p.m. will close out the evening’s activities.

Friday will see the festival expand to three stages, with music starting at 12:45 p.m. from Contracult Collective on the Coors Light Stage. Ayron Jones will take the stage first at 1:20 p.m. Friday on the Kolas Stage. Performances from acts, such as Crobot, Pop Evil, and Rancid and many others will keep things moving through the day. Metallica will headline Friday’s events beginning at 8:55 p.m.

Moving on to Saturday, American Teeth and The Black Moods will open the day’s schedule at 12:30 p.m. and 12:35 p.m. on the Coors Light Stage and Kolas Stage respectively. Also notable acts featured on the day are those, such as South of Eden, Another Day Dawns, and Atreyu, as well as Anti-Flag, Mudvayne, and Alien Weaponry. The original lineup of The Misfits rounds out the day at 9:10 p.m. on the Jack Daniel’s Stage.

Even as the weekend winds down Sunday, the music will not let up. Sunday’s schedule opens at 12:20 p.m. on the Jack Daniel’s Stage with a performance by Law. As the day continues, performances from the likes of From Ashes To New, Pennywise, Mastodon, and Rise Against are also scheduled. Metallica closes out the weekend’s festivities at 7:55 p.m. ET on the Kolas Stage.

Along with lots of music, this weekend’s festival will also feature just as much food, drink and entertainment. The full details on all of that are noted below.

Additional food & beverage, and other experiences onsite include:

·      Caduceus Wine Garden, highlighting Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, owned by Arizona resident Maynard James Keenan, co-founder of international recording acts TOOL, A Perfect Circle, and PUSCIFER.

·      Coors Light Coldstream serving with frosty draft technology, complete with actual ice crystals

·      Deep Eddy Vodka -Deep Eddy’s Dive In Trailer is a place where people come together to enjoy good times that never seem to end. Where strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. While at Aftershock stopby and see us at the Deep Eddy Dive In Tour and raise a glass to being back together!

·      Dr. Greenthumb’s – Founded by the Godfather of insane brains, B-Real of Cypress Hill 

·       Fxck Cancer / Dyin 2 Live Dreams Program

·       It’s Ronz World –  custom guitars, rock shop and art

·       Jack Daniel’s Mobile Distillery Tour Experience – Officially registered by the U.S. Government in 1866 and based in Lynchburg, Tenn., the Jack Daniel Distillery is the first registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Cheers your friends make your own history at Aftershock when you rock out at the Jack Daniel’s Main Stage with Metallica!

·      KOLAS – Stop by the Loud Lounge to level up Aftershock vibes with t-shirt ripping, body art and more.  KOLAS will also provide dynamic delivery outside the festival grounds.  Stop by the KOLAS footprint all weekend long to learn more!

·      Mortus Viventi  – Live Tarot Card Readings

·       The Blackened Bar – Aftershock is proud to continue the collaboration with Metallica’s Blackened Whiskey. The pop-up will feature Blackened, a super-premium American whiskey blend, crafted by the late Master Distiller Dave Pickerell and finished in the earth-shattering music of Metallica. This exciting collaboration marks the latest in a long line of amplified guest experiences only available through Danny Wimmer Presents music festivals.

·       The Loud Lounge – Get heady and hang in the Loud Lounge with Kolas, Clown Cannabis, California’s Finest CBD, Heavy Grass, Dr. Greenthumb’s, Helpful Hemp and more. 

·       Take Me Home – not for profit, volunteer based foundation that has been saving the lives of homeless animals since 2001.

·       weedmaps – Located inside the Loud Lounge. Fans can learn about cannabis delivery by downloading the weedmaps app all weekend long. Stop by the booth for fun giveaways and prizes and if you forgot your clear bag, weedmaps has your back. 

Aftershock Festival is presented and produced by Danny Wimmer Presents. More information on the festival is available along with all of the festival’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.AftershockFestival.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AftershockFestival

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AftershockSac

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Louder Than Life Lineup Finalized

Courtesy: Danny Wimmer Presents/Ashton-Magnuson Media

The 2021 Louder Than Life festival will go on.

The event’s organizers announced the lineup and performance times for the festival Tuesday through a news release. The event, now in its sixth year, has expanded to four days from three — Sept. 23-26 — and will feature performances from approximately 70 acts. Single-day and weekend tickets/passes are available here.

Metallica is one of the most notable acts for this year’s festival. The band is scheduled to perform two separate acts on two of the festival’s nights. Also scheduled to take one of the festival’s four stages at this year’s event are acts, such as Another Day Dawns, Disturbed, Korn, Mudvayne, Cypress Hill, and Pennywise.

Along with lots of music, this year’s festival will also feature lots of food and drunk. The Kroger Big Bourbon Bar is the most notable of the features of this year’s food and drink options. It will have more than a dozen hand-selected bourbons from top distilleries nationwide.

Food and drink from a variety and local and regional restaurants (all of which are noted below) will also be available for festival attendees.

502 Café, Angry Bird Grill, Bangarang Bahn Mi, Barrett’s BBQ, Barrett’s Burgers, Bistro Italiano, Blackbeard Espresso, Bru Bros Coffee, Burger Factory, Cheese Louise, Dank Nugs, Ehrler’s Ice Cream, Eli’s BBQ, Gary’s Philly Cheesesteaks, Gelato Gilberto, Hole Mole Tacos, Island Noodles, Jammin Concessions, Longshot Lobsta, Mac Attack, Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen, Mike’s Kentucky Kitchen, My Olympus Greek Food, Overloaded, Phat Daddy’s Creole, Pie Baby Wood Fired Pizza, Pizza Lupo, Potato Tornado, Ramiro’s Cantina, Shady Grove Wraps, Spicy Pie, Strawberry Field, The Cookie Lady, Tica’s Tacos, Tickle Pickle, and Tumbleweed.

Additional bourbon, food & beverage, and other experiences available onsite include:

·       Caduceus Wine Garden

·       The Blackened Bar

·       Jack Daniel’s No. 7 Sports Bar, where guests can enjoy NFL and college football games

·       Heavy Tiki Bar presented by Jim Beam

·       Budweiser Beer Garden

·       Jim Beam Garden

·       The Well– IV hydration, juice bar and overall wellness lounge to recharge all weekend long

·       Silver Dollar Hunter’s Club- featuring vintage bourbons dating as far back as the 1930s, as well as contemporary selections

·       Mortus Viventi – Live Tarot Card Readings

·       Jack’s Char Housepresented by Jack Daniel’s

·       Milagro Cantina Bar

·       Larceny Trailer Lounge

·       Tito’s Handmade Vodka VIP Airstream

·       The Speakeasy

·       Fxck Cancer / Dyin 2 Live Dreams Program

·       Pegasus Experiences Louisville’s Finest Distillery Experiences

·       Take Me Home

·       The Music Experience

Louder Than Life is put on by Danny Wimmer Presents. The festival’s partners are noted below:

Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer, Kroger, Marriott, Crowne Plaza, Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Elijah Craig, Bulleit Bourbon, Angel’s Envy, Larceny, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Evan Williams, Milagro Tequila, Sailor Jerry, Pegasus, ESP, Mortus Viventi, The Music Experience, Louisville Tourism, Kentucky Venues, Ehrler’s Ice Cream, The Well, TickPick, Fxck Cancer, Revolver, Inked, Blackcraft, Fanatics, Headcount, TWOLA and Take Me Home.

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 https://www.roadrierelief.org.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fan can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Lord’s New Record Is A Covers Compilation That Is Actually Worth Hearing

Courtesy: Dominus Records

Independent rock band Lord released its latest record this week.  Its new covers compilation, Undercovers Vol. 1 released Friday through Dominus Records.  The 23-song (yes, 23 songs) comes less than a year after the trio released its then latest EP, Chaos Raining, and approximately two years after the release of its then latest new album, Fallen Idols.  This latest compilation stands out from so many other compilations already released this year in part because of its featured songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  The band’s take on the songs makes for its own share of interest and will be discussed a little later.  The songs’ sequencing puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation.  When this element is considered along with the other noted items, the record in whole proves that while it is largely a space filler between albums, is still a positive addition to Lord’s catalog.

Lord’s new covers compilation, Undercovers Vol. 1 is a positive new presentation from the longtime independent hard rock band.  The record’s appeal comes in large part through its songs.  The songs are important to note in that they are not just a bunch of songs that the band recorded specially for this compilation.  Rather, they are mostly covers that the band has recorded throughout its life and has only now made available together.  Simply put, they were brought together as a way to entertain the band’s fans in lieu of a live recording and even new live dates while promoters and venue heads decide their next steps for live music.  They are not just some random space-filler used to appease contractual obligations.

Bassist Andy Dowling explained the songs’ collection during a recent interview.

“Covers have been a big love of ours since the early days of Dungeon right up to and including now,” said Dowling. “Over the years in Lord these tracks have ended up on limited edition releases, bonus tracks in isolated parts of the world and other weird and wonderful places. These songs have been scattered over so many different places that even we struggle ourselves to remember where on earth all of these songs can be found.” 

“While bands around the world continue to navigate these uncertain times, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to release this collection of cover songs, as well as new recordings, to keep the LORD machine moving while we continue to write new music,” he added. 

Additionally, Dowling pointed out that two of the songs featured in the compilation —  Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’ and Judas Priest’s ‘Reckless’ – were the only songs specially recorded for the compilation.  Those two songs are only a small portion of the 23 (yes, 23) total songs featured in this recording, and are important because they are a highlight of the diversity in the collection.  The band also took on The Police (‘Message in a Bottle’) here, as well as songs from Bon Jovi, Helloween, Metallica, and Little River Band just to name a handful of other acts featured in the compilation.  The short and simple is that the bands covered here come from a wide range of genres.  From hard rock –Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax – to classic rock – Little River Band – to 80s hair rock – Bon Jovi – to prog – Queensryche, Symphony X – to mainstream pop and rock – The Police, Savage Garden – Lord takes on music from so many influences.  That diversity in the bands and music featured here helps to build the band’s reputation and at the same time, perhaps even introduce audiences to music to which they might not have otherwise listened.  If for no other reason, that diversity in the bands and songs will keep audiences engaged and entertained.  It is of course just one of the elements that make this recording so interesting.  The band’s performance of said songs adds to the record’s interest.

Lord’s take on The Police’s ‘Message in a Bottle’ is just one example of the importance of the band’s performances.  Lord’s take on the classic song is interesting in that while it stays largely true to its source material, it essentially amps up that original in a sort of 80s power metal style work.  That updated take — complete with machine gun-fast bass drum work, melodic guitar lines, and operatic vocals – shows that the song strangely enough works just as well in this case as in the original presentation.  It is not one of those woks that hits listeners in its first listen, either.  Rather, it will grow on listeners with each listening, highlighting its longevity.

The band’s take on a-ha’s ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’ is yet another example of the band’s performances here.  In the case of this performance, the band has opted more for an 80s hair metal style performance that makes for quite the contrast against a-ha’s keyboard-driven original composition.  There is the slightest touch of a power ballad early on in the original composition, what with the string arrangement, but that soon gives way to the band’s more familiar new wave approach, which is more present throughout the song.  Lord’s take on the song, as noted, is more of an 80s hair power ballad type work.  It gives a-ha’s original quite the unique new identity in this case with its amped up take on the song.  Where it ends up standing with listeners will be left for those audiences to decide.  That aside, it definitely makes for its own interest. 

W.A.S.P. is another of the bands whose work is covered in this compilation.  In this case, Lord took on the band’s hit song ‘Wild Child.’  In this case, the stylistic approach taken by Lord is largely the same as that of W.A.S.P.  The difference is that Lord’s cover is actually an improvement on the original.  It would seem here that is more due to the production.  The production makes the song sound so much fuller and richer here than the original.  It makes the song sound more modern with a throwback feel.  To that end, it is yet another example of the impact of the band’s performances here, and the importance thereof.  When it is considered along with the other performances noted here and the rest of the record’s featured performances, the whole of those performances makes for even more engagement and entertainment.  It is just one more example of what makes this compilation worth hearing.  The sequencing of the songs featured in this compilation rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of Undercovers Vol. 1 is important to examine because of its role in the record’s general effect.  The record starts in contemplative fashion with its cover of Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’ but very quickly after, it picks up with its take of Iron Maiden’s ‘Judas Be My Guide.’  It is not even until the record reaches its midpoint in its take of Cutting Crew’s ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’ that the album’s energy even remotely pulls back.  From that point on, the compilation’s energy remains relatively high, even as the band takes on what are some otherwise reserved songs.  Even in those cases, the band manages to amp up those songs, including their energies.  So overall, the sequencing ensures that the album’s energy remains relatively high throughout its 100-minute (one hour, 40 minute) run time.  That the record’s energy remains relatively high, and even gives a break point roughly halfway through ensures that the record will run fluidly throughout, ensuring even more, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  When that certain engagement and entertainment is considered with the impact of the band’s unique performances and the variety of songs featured here, that whole makes the compilation overall, its own standout presentation.  Add in the fact that this compilation marks the first time that the band has ever united the previously recorded covers in one setting, and the compilation gains even more appeal.  It shows that this was not just some randomly recorded presentation used to appease contractual obligations.  Between this and everything else noted, the record in whole proves to be a covers collection that is actually worth hearing.

Lord’s new covers compilation Undercovers Vol. 1 is an interesting presentation that rockers and even pop music fans alike will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to the songs featured in the recording.  The band does not just take on a bunch of hard rock and metal songs here, though there are a lot of those songs featured here.  The band also takes on songs from pop and pop rock acts, such as Savage Garden, The Police,  a-ha, and even Kylie Minogue.  That variety in itself makes for reason enough to hear this presentation.  That only two of the songs featured here were specially recorded for the compilation shows that this was not just some randomly thrown together presentation that was made to appease any contractual obligations for the band.  Rather, it was a way for the band to bring together so many of the covers that it has recorded over the course of its life.  That makes the presentation more special in itself.  The band’s performance of the featured covers makes for its own appeal.  That is because they give those originals their own unique identities from one to the next.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out the most important of the compilation’s elements.  That is because it ensures the record’s pacing remains stable throughout while also constantly giving listeners something interesting rather than redundant.  Each item noted here is unquestionably important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the record a work that despite being a covers compilation, still a presentation that is worth hearing, and at least once at that. Undercovers Vol. 1 is available now through Dominus Records.

More information on Undercovers Vol. 1 is available along with all of Lord’s latest news and more at:




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Metallica’s ‘S&M2’ Will Appeal Mostly To The Band’s Most Devoted Fans

Courtesy: Rhino/Blackened Recordings

Veteran hard rock band Metallica recently made headlines when its members announced they were working on new music.  The announcement came only months after the band released its latest live recording, S&M2.  The recording features a performance held by the band and the San Francisco Symphony.  The extensive concert was a two-night performance by the band and orchestra that marked the anniversary of the band’s original April 1999 performance with the collective, and of the opening of the symphony’s new Chase Center.  The recording likely will find itself appealing mainly to the band’s most devoted audiences.  That is due in part to its set list, which will be discussed shortly.  That the concert was released through various, separate platforms actually makes the recording appealing to a very targeted audience, too.  This will be discussed a little later.  The one positive on which all audiences can agree is the recording’s production.  It will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make S&M2 a presentation that Metallica’s most devoted audiences will find more appealing than general audiences.

Metallica’s latest live recording S&M2 is a presentation that will appeal mostly to the band’s most devoted fans.  That is proven in part through its set list.  The 24-song set list is largely the same as that featured in the band’s 1999 recording S&M.  Rather than adding in some deep cuts, such as ‘The God That Failed,’ ‘King Nothing,’ or ‘Dream No More,’ the band largely played it safe here, essentially just cutting and pasting.  To the set list’s defense of course, there are four new songs that are likely among the songs that the band members announced it is working on for its next album.  There are also some relatively well-known classic compositions that will entertain audiences during a break by the band.  The compositions are performed by the members of the symphony.  But again, save for those compositions and the four new tracks, the rest of the concert’s set list is essentially a copy and paste from the 1999 show.  To that end, yes, the four new songs are motivation, but general audiences will find it potentially not enough motivation considering that they and the classical compositions are really the only changes to the set list.  It is just one of the concerns raised by the recording.  The varied platforms on which the concert was released add their own concerns.

When S&M2 was released, it was done so on a wide range of platforms.  There is the standard, least expensive 2CD platform; the standalone Blu-ray platform, the slightly more expensive 2CD/DVD platform and even a combo pack.  Considering all of the platforms on which the concert was made available, outlets, such as Target and Walmart only made the standard 2CD platform available in stores.  Audiences who wanted to hear and see the concert in full have to order the Blu-ray platform and 2CD/DVD combo pack.  That means spending extra money on shipping and handling as well as sales tax versus just paying a little bit of extra sales tax in store.  To that extent, it decrease motivation to purchase the full concert unless one is, again, among the most devoted fans of Metallica.  Considering that most major retailers are charging a maximum of approximately $15 for the Blu-ray, one cannot help but wonder why that was not made available in store along with the 2CD set or even in place of that set.  To that extent, the multiple platform availability of the recording does seem like a positive on the surface, but looking at the costs and availability in store versus online, it actually becomes more of a concern.  Together with the limitation in new material in the concert, again, general audiences become even less motivated to purchase this recording.  For all of the concerns that are raised by the concert’s set list and its availability, one positive can be noted of the recording.  That positive is its production.

Audiences who watch the full audio-visual presentation on Blu-ray or DVD will agree that the audio was balanced well in post production.  There have been some complaints about the 5.1 surround sound, but odds are the people who raised those concerns had their TVs improperly set up.  Many TVs are created nowadays so that audiences need just set their TVs to surround sound setting and they can enjoy the concert’s audio for live setting.  In the same breath, the cinematography is impressive in its own right.  Considering the construction of the symphony’s new facility, the cameras had to be adapted.  Audiences are often presented with wide angle shots, and even right up on stage with the band.  The transitions are stable from one to the next while the shots themselves give a positive view of just how expansive the concert hall is.  The cinematography also does well to capture the impact of the lighting, which helps to set the mood for the concert.  Keeping all of this in mind, those responsible for capturing the performance in person and in post production are to be commended for their work.  That is because it provides home viewers the best seat in the house and fully immerses those audiences in the concert experience.  Keeping that in mind, this is the one true saving grace for S&M2.  Together with the concert’s honestly limited set list and equally limited availability, it serves to make this presentation appealing mainly for the band’s most devoted audiences.

Metallica’s latest live recording S&M2 is an intriguing new presentation from a group that is one of the most respected bands in the music industry today.  It is a presentation that will appeal mostly to the band’s most devoted audiences.  That is due in large part to the concert’s set list.  The set list is a near mirror image from the band’s 1999 recording S&M save for four new tracks and a small handful of well-known classic compositions. That the band and its label made the concert available only in its 2CD platform in stores, and made the rest of its platforms available online only detracts even more from its appeal.  Had the standalone Blu-ray and/or the 2CD/DVD platform been made available in store, that might have helped the recording’s appeal at least somewhat, but that did not happen.  To that end, that division detracts even more from the recording’s presentation.  The one saving grace to this recording is its production.  Those who recorded the concert in person and those who handled its post production are to be commended for their work.  It gives home audiences the best seat in the house.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, S&M2 proves to be a presentation that will appeal most to Metallica’s most devoted fans.  It is available now.

More information on S&M2 is available along with all of Metallica’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.metallica.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/metallica

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

Hammerfall Drops The Hammer On 2020’s Top New Live Recordings List

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Live music and live music venues took a big hit this year thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  That goes without saying.  Music acts and venues from the independent level all the way up to the big names were force to put their live music plans on hold indefinitely as a result of the pandemic.  However a glimmer of hope rose this week when Live Nation head Joe Berchtold was quoted by major media outlets as saying that he believed live music would return by summer 2021.  One can only hope that Mr. Berchtold is right, and that when it does return, audiences will welcome its return rather than let the germaphobes control their minds.  Until then, audiences do have lots of live music to enjoy on CD, DVD and Blu-ray that was released this year.  Hammerfall released its latest live recording Live! Against The World this year.  Dream Theater also dropped its new live recording Distant Memories: Live in London.  Metallica even celebrated the anniversary of its landmark S&M show with the release of S&M2.  These are just some of the recordings that made Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Live Recordings.  They were joined by new live material from the likes of Myrath, The Rolling Stones, and Kamelot.

As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this collection features the Top 10 new titles in the given category and five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Live Recordings.


  1. Hammerfall – Live! Against The World
  2. Jimi Hendrix – Live in Maui
  3. Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – A Swingin’ Sesame Street Celebration
  4. Def Leppard – London to Vegas
  5. The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels Live
  6. Devin Townsend – Order of Magnitude: Empath Live Volume 1
  7. John Lee Hooker – Live at Montreux 1983 & 1990
  8. Waylon Jennings – The Outlaw Perrformances
  9. Myrath – Live in Carthage
  10. Kamelot – I Am The Empire Live from the 013
  11. Dream Theater – Distant Memories: Live in London
  12. Metallica – S&M2
  13. Delta Rae – Coming Home To Carolina
  14. Bush – Live in Tampa
  15. Dee Snider – For The Love of Metal

Up next from Phil’s Picks is one of the last three music categories of the year, Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Rock Albums.  After that will be the year’s top new hard rock & metal albums, and then last but not least, the year’s top new albums overall.  From there, it’ll be on to the DVDs and Blu-rays in all of their categories.  Stay tuned for all of that.

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

Metal Rock Films’ New Thrash Metal Retrospective Will Resonate With Thrash, Metal Aficionados

Courtesy: Metal Rock Films

Throughout their rich histories, the rock and metal communities have seen a lot of “hot spots” develop across America.  Seattle, during the 90s was the hub for the burgeoning “grunge” scene.  Atlanta, for decades has been its own hub for so many kinds of rock  and metal.  Sevendust calls Atlanta home as do the like of Stuck Mojo, The Black Crowes, and Mastodon.  New York City has often been known as one of the key cities (if not the key city) in which the hardcore punk movement started.  The San Francisco Bay area meanwhile is where the thrash metal scene got its start.  The Bay Area and the thrash scene that developed therein are the focus of the recently released independent “rock-umentary” Bay Area Godfathers.  Released Nov. 10 on DVD by Metal Rock Films, the 90 minute retrospective is a presentation that thrash metal fans will find worth watching at least occasionally.  That is proven in part through its central feature, which will be discussed shortly.  The pacing that results from the main feature’s presentation presented plays its own key part to the retrospective’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the main feature adds some appeal to the overall presentation and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Bay Area Godfathers.  All things considered, it is a presentation that serves as a good starting point in an examination of what is just one of metal’s many sub-genres.

Bay Area Godfathers is a presentation that thrash metal fans will find worth watching at least occasionally.  That is proven in part through the 90-minute program’s main feature.  The main feature follows the genre’s growth from its infancy in the early 80s to its growth in popularity in the late 80s.  Audiences learn through the presented history that the genre’s development was apparently somewhat unexpected.  That is because in the lat 70s and early 80s, pop, disco and other genres were still very prominent and popular in the San Francisco Bay area.  Even with those genres still being popular, audiences learn that there was a movement in the underground away from those more popular genres and acts and toward the heavier rock world.  The guerilla style presentation is not the spit-shined work that audiences might expect from say MTV, VH1 or ay of those well-known outlets.  The story is told through first hand accounts and stories of the musicians and bands that rose to popularity in the early days of thrash.  The interviews are captured with ordinary cameras.  There are no wireless microphones to amplify the speakers’ voices.  There is no editing to clean up the look and sound of the interviews.  They are presented wholly in a very distinct DIY fashion.  At the same time, the program is clearly segmented into specific portions (E.g. thrash’s early days, the division of punk and thrash, the growing popularity of thrash on rock radio and magazines).  That clear segmentation helps to keep viewers engaged and entertained throughout the course of the documentary.  Between this and the fact that the story is told mainly by those who were part of the genre’s evolution (in place of lots of third hand narration), and the video that helps tell the stories, this main feature in itself gives audiences quite a bit to appreciate.

While the main feature in Bay Area Godfathers mostly ensures viewers’ appeal, it is not a perfect presentation.  The pacing that results from the in-depth tale does suffer at points throughout the program.  While Bay Area Godfathers’ run time is listed at 90 minutes, there are times when it feels like it runs a little bit longer because of the pacing.  Whether that is due to the lack of that extra narration or maybe just a little bit too much in the way of anecdotes and stories is anyone’s guess.  Maybe it is the result of both of those elements.  Regardless, there are moments in the program that do feel as though they are dragging more so than at others.  Thankfully, that is not the case throughout.  That aside it is still noticeable, so it does detract from the documentary’s presentation at least to a point, just not enough to make the program fail.

Once audiences have made their way through the main feature of Bay Area Godfathers (or even before), they also have some bonus content to watch.  The documentary’s writing/directing/producing team of Bob Nalbandian and John Strednansky discusses favorite memories of the early days of the thrash metal scene in the bay area.  The men also share their thoughts on topics such as the impact of the scene on the overall metal community and why the pair even got started making its “Inside Metal” film series.  The history behind this aspect is interesting as it takes listeners briefly into the bigger history of the rock ad hard rock scene in California.  The discussion on the roots of the metal scene in the Bay Area in the early 80s shows the seriousness of the team’s dedication to the genre.  It is refreshing to hear from the men, that this was not just some pet project, but something that stemmed from their own love for the genre.  On a completely random note, as the men are talking (apparently in a hotel lobby) a figure walks to the elevators behind them in what looks like the outfit of the Kansas Jayhawks mascot outfit.  All that is visible from the camera angle is from the waist down, but it certainly makes for a funny moment as the mascot stands there pacing a little, waiting for the elevator as the men talk.  In discussing the favorite memories, Stradnansky talks about his first “Metal Monday” show, seeing Motley Crue and how that changed his life.  It is its own continued testament about the love that these men had for their project.  There are even discussions about favorite clubs, which adds to the discussions about the clubs featured in the documentary.  This enriches that aspect of the presentation even more.  Between this, so much more in the nearly 10-minute bonus and everything featured in the documentary’s main feature, this presentation proves itself a relatively entertaining and engaging presentation for thrash and metal aficionados in general. 

Metal Rock Films’ recently released thrash metal retrospective Bay Area Godfathers is a presentation that rock and metal aficionados alike will find intriguing.  They will find it as a presentation that is worth watching occasionally.  That is proven in part through its main feature, which takes viewers back through the early history of thrash metal in the San Francisco Bay area.  The rich, in-depth story told in the main feature is presented largely through first hand stories and anecdotes from those who were part of the scene at the time.  Some are well-known names while others are less so, creating a rich starting point in the history of the genre.  For all of the content that the main feature offers audiences, there are some occasional issues with the feature’s pacing.  There are moments throughout the documentary in which the story feels like it slows down.  Thankfully those moments are not enough to derail the program.  The bonus content that accompanies the documentary’s main feature adds a little more enjoyment an engagement to the whole.  Together with everything in the main feature, the two elements join with the better elements of the program’s pacing to make the retrospective/history piece worth at least an occasional watch.  Bay Area Godfathers is available now.

More information on this and other titles from Metal Rock Films is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:




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Artilley Debuts New Single, ‘The Last Journey,’; Metallica Cover Accompanies Single

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Artillery is paying tribute to one of its own with its latest single.

The band kicked off the weekend Friday by debuting its new single, ‘The Last Journey.’ The song is a tribute to late Artillery member Morten Stutzer, who died in October 2019. The band announced last month that it was going to release the single, which features guest vocals from the band’s former front men, Flemming Ronsdorf and Soren Adamsen.

The band’s new single is an interesting new offering in part because of its musical arrangement. The arrangement takes a noticeably different turn from the band’s existing body of work. Instead of the heavy, guitar driven arrangements for which it has come to be known, this work instead takes elements of power metal and 80s hair metal to form its musical foundation.

On the surface, the combined elements again make for quite the intriguing presentation. Of course, considering that the song is a musical eulogy of sorts, it makes more sense that it would take a different approach from its existing works.

The song opens, stating, “I am looking at you for the last time/And I know you can’t stay/You are moving to a better place/So far away…Memories are strong/I never lose them/They can steal away your life forever/But they can’t steal your dreams/A dark cloud’s on my heaven/So far from me/Alone with you near me/The son runs deep/In my bones/Through the pain/I know you’re gone/But I will carry on.” Some of the lyrics here are slightly difficult to understand due to the manner in which the vocals are delivered, but the message is clear. The song’s second verse adds to the statement, with comments about “the loss of you” and more. Again, some of the lyrics are difficult to decipher sans lyrics to reference. Even with that in mind, enough is still understood along with the knowledge of the song’s lyrical theme, that the impact of the lyrical and musical content together is not lost.

‘The Last Journey’ is accompanied by a B-side, a cover of Metallica’s ‘Trapped Under Ice.’ This song is more along the lines of what audiences have come to expect from Artillery, stylistically speaking. Artillery’s take on the song stays true to its source material while also giving the composition a new kickstart with the more intense vocals and production.

The songs are available on vinyl in Europe and everywhere else digitally. The vinyl is available in three pressings, noted below.

–Black vinyl (300 copies)
–Blue vinyl (200 copies)
–Yellow vinyl (100 copies)

Both songs were produced and recorded by Soren Andersen at Medley Studio. 

More information on Artillery’s forthcoming single is available online now along with all of Artillery’s latest news and more at:




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