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:

Websitehttp://www.artillery.dk

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/ARTILLERY.DK

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/artillerymetal

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.

Black Tree Vultures Debuts ‘The Unforeseen’ Lyric Video

Courtesy: Asteria Entertainment/BTV Records

Black Tree Vultures debuted the video for its new single over the weekend.

The band debuted the lyric video for its single ‘The Unforeseen‘ Sunday.  The song is the lead single from the band’s forthcoming EP III, which is scheduled for release Feb. 12, 2021.

The video’s debut came more than a week after the band debuted the song by itself.  The fully CG video features a woman making her way through a post apocalyptic setting, going to different settings, such as a church, a cold, wintery setting (that maybe is supposed to be London) and her own lair of sorts.

The musical arrangement featured in the new song is a heavy, no nonsense guitar-driven work that lends itself to comparisons to works from bands, such as Metallica, Stone Sour, and Megadeth.  Guitarist Aaron “Ham” Hammersley is to be applauded for his performance here. There is even a short run late in the song that sounds like it came right from one of Metallica’s classic albums.  Producer Will Maya (The Answer) is credited with helping the song have such a sharp, intense sound and impact.

Drummer Jono Smith’s time keeping and bassist James “Ched” Cheeseman add their own touch to the song while front man Celyn Beynon’s vocals at times echo the sound and style of Stone Sour/Slipknot front man Corey Taylor.  The whole of those parts alongside the guitars is a powerful first impression from the band.

The song’s lyrical theme is centered on the matter of a breakup, according to Beynon.

“This song started with the Chorus. “Ched” brought the riff to Aaron and Jonno and the song (though very different from what you hear today) grew from that,” he said. “Originally titled ‘Black Limousine’ the lyrical content was very different, but after a tough experience, I rewrote the lyrics to reflect this.”

“On a cloudy day on a Hill in North Dorset, amidst a break-up, I turned to a good friend for advice,” added Beynon. “They allowed me to view myself from the standpoint of someone else. In the song, I refer to a text or two I received in the middle of the break-up describing who I was and what I’d become. It made me realise that things are going to have to change and was a bit of a wakeup call! I think it’s important to write and draw from experience when it comes to music as it makes it genuine and people can connect with it.

Black tree Vultures is scheduled to release its single worldwide on Sept. 25.  .

More information on Black Tree Vultures’ new single and EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.btv-band.co.uk

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/BlackTreeVultures

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/BTVulture

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.

 

Musical Arrangements, Production Save Orbit Culture’s New LP

Courtesy: Seek & Strike

Independent metal band Orbit Culture is working hard to make a name for itself within the bigger metal community.  The band released its new album Nija aug 7 through seek & Strike Records.  The 10-song album is a powerful entry that will appeal to the band’s target audience.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  Its lyrical themes do their own part to make the album appealing to the noted listeners.  The record’s production is just as much of note as its overall content.  When this item is considered along with the album’s content, the album in whole proves to be a presentation that the band’s target audience base will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Orbit Culture’s new album Nija is a strong new effort from the band that the group’s target audience base will appreciate.  That is due in no small part to the record’s collective musical arrangements.  From beginning to end of the 45-minute record, its riffs, seething vocal deliveries, bass and drums will appeal to a wide range of listeners.  Each arrangement exhibits touches of groove metal joined with death metal, thrash, and even a bit of black metal.  At the same time, there is also a hint of melodic metal and hard rock added to the mix for a result that is truly interesting.  The heavier arrangements will appeal to fans of bands, such as Whitechapel, Humanity’s Last Breath, and Gojira.  The album’s more melodic moments, such as in ‘Open Eye’ and ‘See Through Me’ take listeners in a completely different direction.  ‘Open Eye’ conjures thoughts of early Metallica at various points while the whole of ‘See Through Me’ is more of a metalcore presentation.  In the exact same breath, there are plenty of other moments in ‘Open Eye’ that are more akin to the noted heavier acts.  The two elements are very well-balanced here and make for quite the interesting composition.  ‘Sun of All’ is another of those arrangements in this record that balances the noted death and black metal elements with a distinct melodic hard rock sensibility.  It comes later in the record’s run.  The two sides are so well-balanced, too, that one can’t help but listen.  Add in the hypnotizing string arrangement and metalcore elements, and audiences get in this song what is musically, one of the album’s most standout moments.  It’s just one more way in which the album’s musical arrangements show their importance.  When it is considered along with the rest of the album’s arrangements (noted and not) the whole of the album’s musical body becomes a presentation that in itself makes the album well worth hearing.  For all that the album’s musical arrangements do for its whole, they are just one of the album’s notable aspects.  Its lyrical content is sure to generate its own share of interest among audiences.

The lyrical content featured throughout Nija is intriguing to say the least.  While the record’s musical arrangements guarantee far-reaching appeal, its lyrical content feels much more targeted with its dark, nihilistic overtones.  Case in point is the lyrical content featured in ‘North Star of Nija.’  The song’s lead verse states, “Combust/The opulence of all the human faults in flames/You’ve killed/But you see yourself for real in here/The serpent/Black god/The north star of Nija.”  The song’s second verse adds in, “Adjust the ornament/To fit the true king of our realm/You bow to a darker power that’s real in here…I’ve lived through some grey days/But I’ve never really given it a thought/How I live/How it’s feasting on me/How it’s taking me.”  The song’s third verse is just as heavy, stating, “I’m the leader of all that’s dead/I’m the crows that you witness next/I’m the leech that steals from the mother’s breast/I’m the serpent in Hell.”  The song goes on in similar fashion from here with the only real seeming glimmer of hope coming later in the line, “You’ll stay here for a long time/You’ll dry your tears from off your face/But you can’t look back now.”  Even that is questionable in its delivery.  It could be positive, but considering the next lines, it is difficult to say.  Ultimately the song ends with the line, “I’ve sent down the crows to Hell/To gather the bones of you/I’ve given the piece of skin/To the gods of the broken man/I am complete.”  So maybe, just maybe this is meant to send a sense of overcoming adversity.  It leaves even this critic bewildered.  Even with all of this in mind, that it has the potential to create so much discussion makes it stand out as just one example of what makes the album’s lyrical content important.  ‘Behold’ is another example of what makes Nija’s lyrical intriguing.

‘Behold’ comes across as a deeply introspective work in its own right.  Front man Niklas Karlsson sings in the song’s lead verse, “In the essence of the fire/I’m realizing that this is life now/I’ve tried so hard to keep this feeling/Of feeling sane/Mind and body/I tried so hard to keep the demons/The fallen society/The downfall of you and me/in the white halls we are searching.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “In the presence of the higher/The mesmerizing colors/I’ve tried so hard to find the healing/Being sane/Tired body/I tried so hard to keep the demons in me.”  At this point, it can be inferred that this is someone facing that age old battle with self.  Things don’t get much brighter from here.  As a mater of fact, the nihilism continues right to the end, with Karlsson stating in the end, “Death is certain/Nothing else more can be/No light in the tunnels of this force spinning wheel/The white robe ideal.”  Simply put, this is not the happiest of songs musically or lyrically.  It will appeal to a very targeted listener base.  Keeping that in mind, it is just one more way in which the record’s lyrical content proves its importance to its whole.  ‘Rebirth’ is just as nihilistic as ‘Behold’ and much of the album’s other songs in its lyrical presentation.

Much like ‘Behold’ and the album’s other songs, this is a work that will appeal to a very targeted audience.  That is because it is just as lyrically heavy as those works.  The song’s lead verse proves that as Karlsson sings, “My sun/It’s time to leave this world/It’s time to leave the daylight stream/It’s time to feel this rain/Through the fire hail/This is all I have to say/This is all that’s left of me/In this shell I’ve lived through Hell/Walking icy plains/I cannot take what this world gave me/I cannot live through this hell/I cannot take this life that I’ve been given/I’ve always sung the words and songs of death.”  Once again, things don’t get much brighter from here.  To that end, there is not a lot of need to go on from here about this song’s lyrical content.  Again, it is a presentation that will only appeal to a very targeted audience.  In other words, it’s one more example of why the lyrics play their own role in the bigger picture of Nija.  Needless to say the album’s lyrics require audiences to be in a very specific mindset in order to be appreciated.  To that end, whether it detracts from or adds to the album’s presentation all depends on the listener.  Regardless of which side one takes in that discussion, one thing on which everyone can agree is that the album’s production rounds out its most important elements.

The production of Nijia is important to note because it is that work that made the album sound so good.  As noted already, there is a lot going on throughout this record in terms of its arrangements.  There are moments in which the guitars and vocals roar alongside the bass and drums.  There are also moments throughout the album that are more controlled (for lack of better wording).  There are also moments in which both are incorporated into one song.  Regardless of which song is chosen, it can be said that the utmost attention to detail was taken throughout the album.  Each instrument is expertly coupled with its partners from start to end.  The result is a record that is worth hearing just as much as it is for the depth of the arrangements themselves.  Those two elements together make the album worth hearing even despite the issues raised by the album’s lyrical content.

Orbit Culture’s new album Nija is an intriguing offering from the independent metal outfit.  That is due in part to the record’s musical arrangements, which blend together so many different metal genres from one to the next and even within themselves.  They make the album worth hearing if only for themselves.  The album’s lyrical content poses a bit of a problem for its presentation.  That is because in looking at this aspect, it will appeal to a very targeted audience, unlike the album’s musical content.  Even with that in mind, the lyrical content does not detract so much from the album that it is not worth hearing.  The record’s production partners with the arrangements to make up for the problem posed by the album’s lyrical content.  The production and music work together to make Nija worth hearing at least among the metal masses.  It is available now through Seek & Strike Records.  More information on Nija is available along with all of Orbit Culture’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.orbitculture.com

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

 

 

Twitter: http://twitte.com/orbitculture

 

 

 

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.

The Sword Launches New “Live” Series

Courtesy: Cosa Nostra PR

Stoner rock band The Sword launched a new weekly live series this week.

The band debuted a three-song “mini-set” Thursday through Consequence of Sound.  The first performance is streaming here, as well as through CoS.

Dubbed the “Conquest of Quarantine,” the three song set was recently recorded by the band during a virtual lockdown jam session.  It marked the first time since the band went on hiatus in 2018 that the band had performed together.

One more song will debut from the band each coming week as part of the “mini-set.”

The Sword’s recent jam session was the result of a tour with Primus that was halted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  That tour was is now rescheduled and expected to start June 9 in Houston, TX.  It is scheduled to run through July 19 in Cincinnati, OH and feature performances in cities, such as Raleigh, NC; Essex Junction, VT, and Philadelphia, PA.

The tour’s schedule is noted below.  Tickets are available here.

 

June 9 – Houston, Texas @ Revention Music Center*

June 11 – Irving, Texas @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory*

June 12 – Austin, Texas @ ACL Live at The Moody Theater*

June 13 – New Orleans, La. @ Saenger Theatre*

June 15 – Orlando, Fla. @ Hard Rock Live*

June 16 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Coca-Cola Roxy*

June 20 – Charlotte, N.C. @ Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre*

June 22 – Asheville, N.C. @ Exploreacheville.com Arena*

June 23 – Raleigh, N.C. @ Red Hat Amphitheater*

June 25 – Richmond, Va. @ Virginia Credit Union Live!*

June 26 – Baltimore, Md. @ MECU Pavilion*

June 27 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Stage AE*

June 29 – Essex Junction, Vt. @ Midway Law at Champlain Valley Expo*

July 1 – Westbrook, Maine @ Main Savings Pavilion at Rock Row*

July 2 – Wallingford, Ct. @ Oakdale Theatre*

July 5 – Lafayette, N.Y. @ Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards (no the Sword)

July 6 – Boston, Mass. @ Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion*

July 8 – New York, N.Y. @ Beacon Theatre*

July 9 – Asbury Park, N.J. @ The Stone Pony Summer Stage*

July 10 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ The Met*

July 13 – Toronto, Ont. @ RBC Echo Beach*

July 15 – Columbus, Ohio @ Express Live! Outdoor*

July 16 – Cleveland, Ohio @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica*

July 17 – Sterling Heights, Mich. @ Freedom Hill Amphitheatre*

July 19 – Cincinnati, Ohio @ PNC Pavilion*

 

In other news, The Sword released two hits collections from The Sword June 19, Chronology2006 – 2018 and Conquest of Kingdoms.  Chronology2006 – 2018 is a three-CD set features the band’s biggest hits, fan favorites, rarities and previously unreleased songs.  Its track count totals 52 (yes, 52) songs.  Additionally it features liner notes penned by the band’s members and some other well-known names — Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Mark Morton (Lamb of God) and Neil Fallon (Clutch).

Conquest of Kingdoms is a three-LP vinyl set that features previously unreleased songs, b-sides, oddities and live performances.  Its track listing totals 30 songs.

More information on The Sword’s new “mini-set,” rescheduled live dates and more is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.theswordofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Thesword

 

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.

 

Nonpoint Asks Fans To Help Choose Band’s Next Cover Song

Nonpoint wants its fans to choose the next song that it covers.

The band has launched a new campaign that gives audiences the chance to choose the band’s next cover.  The first round of the contest consisted of 64 songs, reduced that number to 32 and now has whittled the list to 16 songs.

The current list of contenders for covers includes, but is not limited to: Jay Z, Metallica, and Genesis.  Speaking of Genesis, Nonpoint covered Phil Collins’ hit song ‘In The Air Tonight’ on its album Recoil (2004).  The band’s major label debut Statement (2000) featured a cover of Busta Rhymes’ hit song ‘Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check’ and Wu-Tang Clan’s song ‘Method Man.’  The two songs were culled in one song.

The band issued a statement that notes the decision to curate the list came from its fans’ requests for more covers.

“Over the years we have asked this question time and time again on our socials,” the statement reads. “Accumulating answers both traditional and nontraditional, from ages as young as 8 to as old as 80. Seeing how many of you discovered us years ago in this very fashion makes this campaign very special. We have always said that our fans are our lifeblood and always come to bat for us when we need them most. So with this campaign we wanted to show our fans the power they have being a member of the 361 family and Nonpoint Nation”

Nonpoint’s list of contenders for its next cover song is featured below.

 

Courtesy: Nonpoint/O’Donnell Media Group

 

Fans can vote for their favorite song through the band’s social media channels.

More information on Nonpoint’s new campaign is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://nonpoint.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/nonpointofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/nonpoint

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.

Annihilator Proves Again Why It Is Thrash Metal Elite With ‘Ballistic, Sadistic’

Courtesy: Neverland Music, Inc.

Thrash metal is alive and well.  This critic has pointed this out more than once during the course of this year.  New, successful albums released this year from the likes of Testament, Warbringer and Sepultura have supported that statement without any doubt.  They are just a few of the albums that have served to support the noted statement.  They are just some of those examples of what has made the thrash world so strong this year.  They also were not the first of the year’s major thrash albums.  Annihilator beat all of them to the punch on January 24 with the release of its latest album Ballistic, Sadistic.  The band’s 17th full-length studio recording, its 10 total songs make the album everything that audiences have come to expect from the veteran metal outfit, musically speaking.  This will be discussed shortly.  The album’s lyrical themes work with that noted musical aspect to add to the record’s appeal.  It will be addressed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be addressed later.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered, they make Ballistic, Sadistic another win for Annihilator and its fans.

Annihilator’s latest album Ballistic, Sadistic is a pure example from start to end of why this band has remained such a respected act both within the thrash and metal realms for more than 35 years.  That is proven in part through the 45-minute album’s overall musical presentation.  The album’s musical arrangements are, from one to the next, everything that audiences have come to expect from the band.  The shredding riffs are there as are front man Jeff Waters’ grinding vocals and drummer Fabio Alessandrini’s solid time keeping and fills.  From the full-throttle approach of ‘Out With The Garbage’ to the almost power metal approach of ‘Lip Service’ to the equally driving arrangement of ‘The Attitude,’ audiences get everything that they have come to expect from Annihilator on this latest offering from the veteran metal outfit.  What’s interesting to note in examining the arrangements is that for all of the familiarity present throughout the course of the 45-minute record, there are some aspects that audiences will find interesting in their own right.  That arrangement at the center of ‘The Attitude’ is just one of those moments that stands out.  The nearly five-minute song opens with what is best described as something of a doom sound with the slow, heavy guitars and equally impacting drumming.  This element lasts almost two minutes before the band launches into the more full-throttle, old school thrash sound for which it has come to be known.  ‘One Wrong Move’ is another  example of some changes from the band, that audiences will like.  Roughly halfway through the course of the nearly five-minute song, which in its overall presentation sounds a lot like old school Metallica circa 1991 (and old school Pantera for that matter), the song becomes decidedly subdued.  That change of tone is only temporary, though, as the song soon after, as the band gets right back to the song’s original heaviness after the brief respite.  Between these two changes, the more familiar aspects of the band’s musical work and the rest of the work not addressed, the album’s overall musical content creates a solid foundation for its presentation.  The record’s lyrical themes rest on that foundation, making the album even more appealing for audiences.

The lyrical themes featured throughout the course of Ballistic, Sadistic strengthen the foundation formed by the album’s musical arrangements.  That is because the themes in question are topics to which listeners can relate.  “The Attitude’ is just one of the songs that serves to support the noted statement.  The song comes across as addressing those people who live to make others’ lives miserable.  It is a familiar topic that has been covered many times from one act to the next and from one genre to the next.  But even in the case of this presentation, it still maintains its appeal to listeners.  Case in point is the song’s lead verse, which states, “Years of blood, sweat and tears/Under the belt/Disregard, disrespect for what you’ve been dealt/best defense, arrogance/You know it all/Enjoy your time while it lasts/Before you fall.”  The damning indictment of such behaviors from those people continues in the song’s second verse, “It’s dragging me down/Pessimist/What do you know/In a couple of years, wait and see/You’ve got nothing to show/telling me how/Teaching me how it’s done/Feel the need to educate everyone” and adds in the song’s third and final verse, “You’ll learn the lesson/Learn it well/Save your tears/I’d wish you luck/Don’t fuck a f***/get out of here.”  That final statement is the most telling, as the song’s subject clearly is taking on that negativist, telling that person that he/she is not wanted or welcome.  When that forceful statement is coupled with the song’s equally powerful musical arrangement, the whole of the song is certain to leave a lasting impact on listeners.  It is just one of the most notable examples of what makes the album’s lyrical content stand out.  ‘Dressed Up For Evil’ shows in its own way what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to its presentation.

‘Dressed Up For Evil’ does not come right out  and say it, but could very easily be considered a statement against none other than the “Mango Monster” himself, Donald J. Trump.  This is inferred right from the song’s outset as the song states, “Put on your best suit and pick out your tie/Cover up the hooves/A devil in disguise/Jump in your fancy car/Women, a plaything/Everyone’s inferior/All hail the king/Lake Damien from The Omen/A business camouflage/Hanging with your worshippers/Your phony entourage/Blending in with all of us/A smell of rotten flesh/Fending off the flies.”  The seeming statement about the wannabe dictator continues in the song’s second verse, “So condescending/Rotten to the core/Everyone’s beneath you/Put ‘em down some more/Tempting with currency/Preying on the greed/Extend the family/With demon seed/People are just property/Amassing your net worth/Building up the empire/Right here on Earth/Delusions, illusions/All a fantasy/No guilty conscience/A moral bankruptcy.”  The song’s third and final verse follows in similar fashion, but at least ends the song with a “happy” ending, stressing to that evil figure, “The reign is over/Good has overcome/Dealing with the aftermath/The healing has begun.”  One can only hope that the healing will begin come November when hopefully the giant cheeto will be gone from the White House.  Considering all of this, the song is a song that will certainly resonate with plenty of listeners.  It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.  ‘Lip Service’ is yet another way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.

The lyrical content featured in ‘Lip Service’ presents a certain intentional double entendre.  On the one hand, there is a clear sexual aspect to the song, as it states at one point, “Sweat dripping from the skin/’m dancing with the ultimate done/Like a sweet peach dipped in honey/With a taste that’s second to none/Down we go/It’s just what you need/Your pleasure and my treat/I got dessert to eat.”  Again, the sexual nature is fully evident here, but at the same time, one can consider that lip service meaning someone lying to another, there is a commentary here about just that.  People so often will pay lip service to others in order to get what they want.  That could be what is being addressed here in the bigger picture.  It could be a man trying to woo a woman.  It could be a brown noser sucking up to a boss.  Overall, the song’s lyrical content, with that seeming commentary and double entendre will certainly reach listeners and keep them just as engaged and entertained as the lyrical content featured in the album’s other noted songs and those not directly addressed.  All things considered here, the lyrical themes featured alongside the album’s musical content, make the album that much more enjoyable for listeners.  While the overall content goes a long way toward making it worth hearing, it is not all that audiences will appreciate.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of Ballistic, Sadistic is important to note because it does just as much to keep listeners engaged and entertained as the album’s overall content.  Clocking in at just over 45 minutes in length, a lot is going on in the album.  Yet even with so much happening, the album is well balanced in its energies and time.  The album’s two halves each run just over 20 minutes, with the longest of the record’s songs each running a little more than five minutes.  That means that at no point does the album let itself drag.  Even with the slight stylistic changes in some of the songs, each song still keeps the album’s overall energy moving throughout.  The result is a presentation that is just as appealing for its aesthetics as for its content.  Keeping that in mind, the album in whole proves clearly why it is another positive offering from Annihilator that is also among the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Annihilator’s 17th album Ballistic, Sadistic is another successful offering from the veteran thrash metal outfit.  That is proven in part through it musical arrangements which present plenty of familiar sounds and stylistic approaches alongside a little something new.  The album’s lyrical themes will connect with listeners just as much as its musical arrangements, as has been pointed out here.  The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Ballistic, Sadistic a presentation that the band’s established fan base will appreciate just as much as metal aficionados in general.  It is available now through Neverland Music, Inc.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.annihilatormetal.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/annihilatorband

 

 

 

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.

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

Courtesy: AFM Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Website: http://www.udo-online.de

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

 

 

 

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.

The Native Howl Launches New Tour; Debuts New Video

The Native Howls is back out on the road.

The band launched a new series of live dates Monday in Burlington, VT.  The band’s new tour schedule runs through July 13 in Boggstown, IN. The tour schedule is noted below.

The Native Howl Tour Dates:
7/4 – Richmond, VA – Canal Club
7/5 – Washington DC – Hill Country DC
7/6 – New York, NY – Hill Country NYC
7/8 – Frostburg, MD – Dante’s Bar
7/9 – Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
7/10 – Nashville, TN – The End
7/11 – Louisville, KY – The Tiger Room
7/12 – Cincinnati, OH – Stanley’s Pub
7/13 – Boggstown, IN – Summer Bash 2019

The tour is just the latest in support of the Michigan-based band’s latest album, Out of the Garden and Into Darkness (2018).  It comes two months after the band held its “Torque Tour” May 2 to 11. Out of the Garden and Into Darkness spawned the single ‘Somethin’ Else‘ and its companion video, which debuted Oct. 24.

Prior to launching its new tour, the band debuted the video for its new single ‘Harvester of Constant Sorrow‘ June 23.  The song and video are not featured in Out of the Garden and Into Darkness.  the video couples elements of Metallica’s ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ with Union Station’s ‘Man of Constant Sorrow,’ which was used in Touchstone/Universal Pictures’ 2000 movie O BrotherWhere Art Thou? and the movie’s soundtrack.

Courtesy: FM Music Management

The song’s video also spoofs the famous concert hall scene in which the Soggy Bottom Boys performed “their” song and couples that with a spoof of Metallica’s video for ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ for the final product.

The Native Howl front man Alex Holycross talked about the video’s concept in a recent interview.

“”I was out for a run last Fall and was contemplating all the “mash-ups” that were popular at the time,” he said. “These mash-ups were simply audio of two different songs spliced together and over each other (a popular one at the time was a combination of audio from “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath). I then thought about an online poll we had done with our fans in which we asked which song they’d like us to cover (even though we did not really have a concrete intention of doing so at the time). The most requested song by FAR was “Man of Constant Sorrow”. I then glanced at my Metallica ring on my right hand, and thought ‘what if we did a true mash-up of this with a Metallica song?’ Then it hit me: Harvester of Constant Sorrow!” Metallica may be our biggest influence collectively as a band, and “Man of Constant Sorrow” is definitely my favorite bluegrass song of all time. We have always been against the idea of doing cover songs, but this endeavor was exciting to us both conceptually and compositionally.”

Holycross added, “The video is always the most difficult part, and we lend our unending thanks to our brother and studio partner Joe Horsch for crushing that portion of the project, as always. As far as the song itself goes, it was as much of challenge as it was a joy to find creative ways to put the Howl’s spirit and collective mind into two iconic songs, and end up with a piece that we were proud of. Selecting which vocals to use from which sections of each song was a long conversation, as well as the arrangement of the fast ‘cut-time’ (albeit ‘Metallica-esque’ in nature, it is original Howl riffs and solos). The concept for the video was quite simple: recreate scenes from the movie “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou” (which made “Man of Constant Sorrow” a hit) and scenes from Metallica’s “One” video. Both the movie and music video have had such an influence on us, that we wanted to pay homage visually as well as sonically. We hope everyone enjoys the song and video, thanks for the support!”

‘Harvester of Constant Sorrow’ is just the latest song from The Native Howl to receive its own video treatment.  The band also released a video for its single ‘Thunderhead‘ in 2016.  The song was the lead single from the band’s 2016 EP Thrash Grass.

More information on The Native Howl’s upcoming live dates is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.thenativehowl.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/thenativehowl

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/thenativehowl

 

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.

 

‘The Face of Fear’ Shows Artillery Still Has Plenty Of Ammunition

Courtesy: Metal Blade Recprds

It’s hard to believe, but in a little more than a month, 2018 will officially over, and 2019 will be here.  It goes without saying that this year has been another impressive one for the metal community, with powerful new releases from acts, such as Soulfly, Tesseract and Nonpoint just to name a few acts.  Though the year is almost over, the year’s stream of new releases is not yet over.  Veteran metal outfit Artillery released its latest album The Face of Fear on Nov. 16, and it will make critics’ decisions on their year-ender lists that much more difficult.  That is because the Danish band’s ninth full-length studio recording’s far-reaching appeal among thrash and metal fans alike.  This is evidenced right from the album’s outset in its opener/lead/title single.  ‘Sworn Utopia’ does just as much as the album’s title track to support that statement, and will be discussed shortly.  Much the same can be said of ‘Preaching To The Converted,’ which will also be discussed later.  Each song shows in its own way, what makes The Face of Fear yet another strong addition to this year’s already outstanding list of new hard rock and metal albums.  When they are considered along with the album’s other songs not noted here, the whole of the record’s 11-song, 45-minute a work that every thrash and metal purist will appreciate.

Artillery’s latest full-length studio recording, The Face of Fear continues what is for the veteran Danish metal outfit, a long-running tradition of success.  It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of thrash and metal purists from the band’s homeland to America and beyond.  That is proven in part through the album’s opener/title track/lead single.  ‘The Face of Fear’ is an important opener and addition to the album considering the state in which the world currently exists.  As the band noted in a discussion on the song’s lyrical content, “the song is about dealing the end of man by himself.  We create our own phobia about the destruction of the world, but remain disrespectful to the globe.”  Front man Michael Bastholm illustrates that message here, singing right off the top, “The world is gonna fall,” adding in the chorus, “Under crimson skies/Our hopes and dreams, they die/This reality/Why can’t we see.”  Additionally, he sings, “No heeding the signs/No wait for tomorrow/Ready between the lines/the face of fear/The scenes will be erased/The trials that we face/Miasma amber mist/the face of fear/It whispers in your ear/It all will end in tears.”  From here, Bastholm reprises the song’s chorus, driving home even more, the song’s blatant warning of what we as a species are doing to the planet.  The song’s official video serves to illustrate Bastholm’s message even more, featuring images of warplanes dropping bombs, missiles being fired, power plants spewing gases into the atmosphere and mushroom clouds, clear-cut forests and mounds of trash piled up in a landfill.  The images, coupled with the song’s intense lyrical message makes The Face of Fear a star wake-up call of what truly is fear-inducing.

The coupling of the song’s straight forward warning in its lyrical content and the visuals, which drive the song’s message home even more does plenty to make ‘The Face of Fear’ an important addition to The Face of Fear.  That is because of the clarity that they create together.  While they are obviously an important part of the song, they are not its only important elements.  The song’s musical arrangement is just as important to discuss as its lyrical theme.  Bastholm’s power metal vocal delivery style set against the song’s old school thrash arrangement creates an interesting dichotomy for which audiences have already shown their appreciation.  One could argue that juxtaposition harkens back to a style made popular by acts, such as Megadeth, Metallica and Anthrax in the early 1980s.  Keeping this in mind, the combination of the song’s musical arrangement, its lyrical content and even its visual content clearly shows why ‘The Face of Fear’ is an important to its namesake album.  It is just one of the examples of what makes the album in whole another successful offering from the band, too.  ‘Sworn Utopia,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another example of the album’s strength.

‘Sworn Utopia’ stands out in its own way in the overall picture of The Face of Fear in part because of its own musical arrangement.  As with the album’s title track (and so many of the album’s other songs), Bastholm’s power metal vocal delivery style couples with the thrash style approach that is so prevalent throughout the album for another powerhouse arrangement.  The song’s bridge conjures clear thoughts of Megadeth while the verses and chorus add a touch of Judas Priest influence.  Again, that collection of musical influences, which throws listeners back to the heyday and thrash (and power) metal cannot be ignored in its importance.  It is only one part of what makes the song, though.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss here as the song’s musical content.

The song starts off with the ringing of church bells before Bastholm and company launch into the song, with Bastholm singing, about altar confessions, priests’ celibacy, altar boys and faith put to the test.  He even goes so far as to directly indict the church (apparently the Catholic church) as he sings, “Your law’s religion/Dramatic and vile/Imprisonment…like a child/You must stay absent from glory and joy.”  Little doubt is left as to the song’s target, considering what can be deciphered from Bastholm’s rapid fire delivery.  If any doubt left at this point, his further statement of “For all I care/Make your peace/But don’t you take/It out on kids.”  At this point, there is no doubt left as to the song’s lyrical topic.  It is a full-on indictment of the Catholic church and the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the church.  Given, it’s not the first time that a band ever took on any religious establishment, but considering the reality of the issue and its importance, it is another pressing matter.  To that end, the fashion through which Bastholm addresses the issue here is powerful in its own right.  The addition of the fury in the song’s musical arrangement helps to illustrate the urgency with which the issue must be addressed and the importance of the matter.  When both elements are considered together, they make the song another clear example of The Face of Fear’s strength.  Even with this in mind, ‘Sworn Utopia’ is still not the last example of what makes The Face of Fear another positive offering from Artillery.  ‘Preaching to the Converted’ shows just as much as ‘The Face of Fear’ and ‘Sworn Utopia’ The Face of Fear’s strength.

‘Preaching to the Converted’ is another full-throttle trash opus that fans of the genre will welcome with arms wide open.  Right from the song’s outset, the old school Megadeth and Metallica influences are on full display, as is even a touch of Exodus.  That is evident in the screaming guitar solos and solid time keeping from the drums.  Lyrically, the song comes across as a socio-political commentary of sorts.  This is inferred as Bastholm sings of people being “shackled” by politicians, those in positions of power “feeding lies” to the populous and mind control of sorts created, again, by those in power.  It is an interesting work that is certain to generate plenty of discussion if it has not already done so.  Discussions aside, it can be said with certainty that this is another work that indicts those in power for what they are doing to the masses.  That includes the world’s political leaders and maybe even military leaders.  Again, it is not the first time that a band has taken this road, but it is no less powerful here than in other acts’ presentations.  To that end, that message, coupled with the song’s full force musical presentation makes the song in whole yet another clear example of what makes The Face of Fear another welcome offering from Artillery.  It still is not the last song that can be cited in supporting that statement, either.  One could just as easily cite the seemingly tongue-in-cheek nature of ‘Dr. Evil,’ the direct discussion of what goes around comes around in ‘Crossroads To Conspiracy’ and the warning about the dangers of alcoholism in ‘Pain,’ the album’s strength becomes that much clearer.  The somewhat Dio-esque ‘Thirst For The Worst’ adds even more depth to the album as does the Metallica-esque sound of ‘New Rage’ and its seeming message about someone who has been wronged.  Between all of those songs and the works directly discussed here, the whole of The Face of Fear clearly shows itself to be another welcome offering from Artillery that shows this band still has plenty of ammunition.

Artillery’s ninth new album The Face of Fear is a strong new statement from the veteran metal outfit.  It is a work that from start to end, shows this band can still hold its own with any of today’s up-and-coming metal acts.  This is evidenced right from the album’s outset in the warning to the world about what it is doing to the planet, its equally stark musical arrangement and accompanying video.  ‘Sworn Utopia’ serves to support that statement even more, as it takes on the atrocities committed by so many members of the Catholic Church.  The seeming indictment of the world’s political leaders through ‘Preaching to the Converted’ supports that statement of the album’s strength even more.  When it is considered along with the likes of ‘Crossroads to Conspiracy,’ ‘Thirst For The Worst,’ ‘Pain’ and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the record shows that artillery still has plenty of ammunition, and can still hold its own against today’s younger, up-and-coming metal acts.  It is available now.  More information on The Face of Fear is available online now along with all of Artillery’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.artillery.dk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ARTILLERY.DK

Twitter: http://twitter.com/artillerymetal

 

 

 

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.

‘Thunderbolt’ Is An “Electrifying” New Effort From Veteran Rock Act Saxon

Courtesy: Militia Guard (Silver Lining Music)

Veteran hard rock act Saxon has, for more than four decades, been entertaining audiences the world over with its own brand of music. Considered by most to be one of the leaders of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the band has easily maintained a place for itself the entire time both in the rock realm and within the musical universe overall. Now with the recent release of Thunderbolt, its 22nd full-length studio recording, the band continues to show why it is still one of rock’s elite acts and just as relevant today as it was in its infancy. That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. Its lyrical themes are just as worth noting here as its musical arrangements and will be discussed later. The album’s sequencing rounds out the elements that prove this album’s power. Each element is important in its own way to the whole of Thunderbolt. All things considered, they make the album another hard-hitting strike from Saxon.

Thunderbolt, the 22nd full-length studio recording from British hard rock outfit Saxon is a solid new musical strike from the veteran band. It is a record that proves Saxon is still one of rock’s elite acts and just as relevant today as it was in its infancy. This is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements. Right off the top, the band takes audiences on a familiar musical ride with the up-tempo arrangement at the center of the album’s title track — a ride that instantly conjures thoughts of Judas Priest set alongside some of its own heavier material. The arrangement at the center of ‘The Secret of Flight’ meanwhile brings about thoughts of Metallica circa 1984 (the year that Ride The Lightning was released). Keeping in mind that Saxon has composed similarly styled arrangements throughout its history, this serves to show Saxon’s own likely influence on Metallica’s sound. The comparison to Judas Priest returns once again in the album’s third full-length song (and fourth overall since the album’s opener was only a 1:35 intro track) ‘Nosferatu (The Vampire Waltz.’ This time it is a comparison to Priest’s more recent work. One of the most standout arrangements presented in this record comes in the Motorhead tribute (yes, there’s even a Motorhead tribute here), ‘They Played Rock and Roll.’ From its driving guitar riffs to its bass work and solid time keeping, the song is a solid, wonderful tribute to yet another of the rock world’s elite. It goes without saying that this song is one of the album’s best works, musically speaking (and lyrically, but that will be discussed later). ‘Predator’ is another great classic hard rock/metal addition to this album that stands out not just because of its arrangement, but also because of the guest appearance by Amon Amarth front man Johann Hegg.’ Hegg’s familiar growl juxtaposed by Saxon front man Biff Byford makes quite the impact. That’s especially the case when their vocal deliveries are joined by the song’s musical lines. The end result is its own standout work that will keep listeners just as engaged as any of the album’s other works. That includes ‘Sons of Odin,’ which once again, bears some resemblance to works from Judas Priest (again, both musically and lyrically), ‘Sniper’ which brings about another comparison to Metallica stylistically speaking and ‘Speed Merchants,’ which boasts its own Motorhead comparison. Between all of these songs and those perhaps not noted here, it becomes clear that the stylistic comparisons to Saxon’s counterparts and its own prior works makes the musical component of this record critical to its success both in itself and when considering its role in Saxon’s overall history. The record’s musical arrangements are only one of the items to be discussed in examining the album’s whole. Its lyrical content is just as important to discuss as its musical material.

The lyrical themes presented throughout the album are so important to note because there does not seem to be one connecting theme from one to the next. From the tribute to Motorhead to the completely random piece about vampires to songs apparently about Norse mythology and even fantasy — ‘A Wizard’s Tale’ — and so much more, the lyrical themes that make up the body of this record run the gamut so to speak. ‘Sniper’ will have listeners talking just as much as those noted songs. The same can be said of ‘Secret of Flight,’ which apparently seems to follow the history of flight, and ‘Roadie’s Song,’ which is in fact about a roadie’s life. On one hand, the simplicity and range of the songs’ lyrical themes leaves one wanting to ask is Saxon just out of ideas. On the other hand though, at least little doubt is left as to the message in each song. There is no metaphor or anything of that mature to lead to misinterpretation. To that end, the band deserves credit for the songs’ lyrical themes. Keeping that in mind alongside the power of the songs’ musical arrangements and audiences get an album in Thunderbolt that again, shows why it is such a strong musical strike from the veteran rock outfit. That juxtaposition is just one more part of what makes this record another sign of Saxon’s solid spot in the rock realm today. The record’s overall sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

Thunderbolt‘s sequencing is important because it plays just as much into listeners’ engagement and entertainment as the record’s musical and lyrical content. The sequencing, in regards to the record’s musical content is so important because of the energy maintained throughout the arrangements. ‘Thunderbolt’ and ‘The Secret of Flight’ give the record a solid, up-tempo start while ‘Nosferatu (The Vampire Waltz)’ boasts its own energy through its heaviness even though it isn’t the up-tempo rocker that its predecessors prove to be. Keeping that in mind, it still maintains the energy established in those songs even without being as fast-paced as them. that energy picks right back up though, in ‘They Played Rock and Roll’ and continues on through ‘Predator’ before the band again opts to go slower yet heavy again in ‘Sons of Odin.’ Considering the seeming pattern that is built through the up and down of the album’s tempos so far, one would be right to assume that from the slower, but heavy ‘Sons of Odin’ gives way to another more up-tempo piece in ‘Sniper.’ That energy carries on to the album’s end in the very 1980s-esque ‘Roadie’s Song.’ It ensures even more listeners’ maintained engagement. Considering this along with the balance of energies throughout the rest of the album, it can be said with ease that plenty of thought was put into this album’s sequencing in regards to the energies in its arrangements. When this is considered alongside the arrangements themselves and the songs’ lyrical content, the end result is an album that audiences will agree is — again — another solid musical strike from Saxon.

The sequencing in regards to the album’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss in examining the album’s overall sequencing as its musical arrangements. The album starts out with a song centered — seemingly — on Greek mythology in ‘Olympus Rising’ and ‘Thunderbolt’ before moving on to a commentary of sorts in the history of flight from its peaceful roots to its destructive current use. Considering that one of the refrains in ‘Thunderbolt’ states “unleash the Gods of war,” this can be argued to be a relatively smooth transition from one song to the next. Whether that connection was intended is anyone’s guess, but it is there. ‘Nosferatu (The Vampire Waltz’ and ‘They Played Rock and Roll,’ while totally separate from one another in their themes, make for an entertaining change of pace lyrically speaking. ‘Predator,’ ‘Sons of Odin’ and ‘Sniper’ all seem to have similar lyrical themes that while not exactly the same, seem close enough to understand why they might have been grouped together. ‘A Wizard’s Tale,’ like ‘Nosferatu (The Vampire Waltz),’ is another random transition that actually because of that randomness, still works in keeping listeners engaged. ‘Speed Merchants’ and ‘Roadie’s Song’ are about as separate as can be from each other and from ‘A Wizard’s Tale.’ This is important to note because it presents even more lyrical variety for listeners, in turn ensuring once more those listeners’ engagement. When this is considered along with the engagement insured through the album’s musical sequencing, its arrangements and lyrical themes, these elements all join together to present a record overall that is another electrifying new effort from one of the justifiably most respected hard rock bands out there today.

Veteran hard rock band Saxon’s latest full-length studio recording Thunderbolt is an electrifying new effort from one of the most respected bands in the hard rock community today. That is proven in part through arrangements that from start to finish will keep listeners engaged with their sounds and energies. The lyrical themes, as random as they can be throughout this album, leave little doubt as to their subject matter because they are so simple. While that might be bad to some point, it is also good being that so few bands take and have taken that route. The album’s sequencing, both in regards to its energies and its lyrical topics plays its own integral part to the album’s whole. Each element is important in its own way, as has been pointed out here. All things considered, they make this album one that will entertain Saxon devotees and hard rock aficionados alike. It is available now in stores and online and at the band’s current live dates. More information on Thunderbolt is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Website: http://www.saxon747.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SaxonOfficial

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.