Dave Ellefson Announces New “BASSTORY” Tour

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Megadeth bassist and EMP Label Group founder Dave Ellfson is launching a new solo tour.

Ellefson, who also runs Ellefson Coffee Company, will embark on what he has dubbed the “Basstory” starting September 21 in Portland, Oregon.  The tour is being labeled as an intimate “storyteller” type of presentation in which Ellefson stories of his years in the music industry along with solo bass performances.

The tour is currently very short with only five confirmed dates including two dates in Texas and two more in Washington state.  The tour’s current schedule is noted below.

9/20 Portland, OR – Dante’s
9/21 Spokane Valley, WA – The Roadhouse
9/22 Fife, WA – Louie G’s
9/28 San Antonio, TX – Fitzgerald’s
9/29 Houston, TX – BFE Rock Club

Tickets and VIP packages are available now here.

Ellefson said of the new tour dates and format that he has been looking forward to the outing.

“I have always done clinics, and a few years ago did an amazing spoken word tour in Australia to support my book My Life With ‘Deth, and have always welcomed the opportunity to be able to meet and connect with fans on a more intimate level.  These important parts of my professional life converged to create BASSTORY,” Ellefson said.  “Not only will fans get to hear some of their favorite bass riffs, but the stories behind them.  It’s not often I get to get into small, intimate rock clubs, the way this all started, and I’m excited for fans to get to experience this show.”

More information on Ellefson’s upcoming tour is available online now along with all of his latest news and more at:


Website: http://www.davidellefson.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ellefsondavid


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‘Ocean Machine: Live…’ Is A Strong Finale Live Statement From Devin Townsend Project

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend has a new live recording on the way. The Devin Townsend Project founder announced Friday that the band will release Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv on July 6 via InsideOut Music.  Originally recorded September 22, 2017 at the noted venue, the concert was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Townsend’s landmark solo album Ocean Machine.  It was more than that though.  It also offered audiences performances of other classic DTP songs complete with accompaniment from the Orchestra of Plovdiv State Opera.  That extensive set list, which runs nearly three hours in length — 2 hours 51 minutes to be exact — forms a solid foundation for the recording’s presentation, and is only one of the recording’s most important elements.  It goes without saying that the performance by the overall collective plays its own important part to the recording’s whole, too, so it will be discussed later.  The recording’s bonus material puts the final touch to its presentation.  It will also be discussed later.  Each element is key in its own way to the whole of this new live recording from DTP.  All things considered, they make Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv a presentation that DTP fans across the board will enjoy and appreciate.

Devin Townsend Project’s new forthcoming live recording Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv is an interesting new live offering that DTP fans across the board are certain to enjoy and appreciate.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s extensive, nearly three-hour-long set list.  The set list is anchored by a full performance of DTP’s landmark album Ocean Machine and is bolstered by a full, 12-song set of songs pulled from the group’s previous albums.  Given, not every one of the group’s albums is represented in that set nor are all of Townsend’s solo albums, but it still offers a healthy sampling of those records.  DTP’s 2016 album Transcendence gets the most nods in the first set, with four songs while Townsend’s solo albums Infinity and Terria get nods.  Terria gets two honors while Infinity receives one.  The lead set even reaches into his exclusive Japanese-only EP Chrsiteen with a performance of ‘Om.’  There’s even a selection from his 2006 Devin Townsend Band album Synchestra in the form of ‘Gaia’ included in this set. Of course, the first set is the only one featuring the orchestral backing.  Even with that in mind, the second set — which is just Townsend and his fellow musicians – is just as powerful as the concert’s first set.  All things considered, the overall set list presented here creates a solid foundation for Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv.  That foundation is strengthened even more through the performance of all involved in the show.

The actual performance put on by Townsend and his fellow musicians throughout the course of the concert is so important to discuss because, as with any concert, it does just as much to keep audiences engaged and entertained as the set list itself.  That is evidenced from the start of the concert to the end.  Townsend’s vocal chops at their peak, needless to say.  This includes not just his screams, but his more soaring almost operatic style vocal delivery, too.  The power in each musician’s part comes through clearly thanks to the work of those behind the cameras and sound boards.  The guitars and orchestral instruments together create a truly lasting musical impact.  That is the case even with the concert being experienced on screen.  The work of those mentioned makes the power in those performances translate so well.  Even in the moments between songs when Townsend interacts with the audience, there is just as much enjoyment.  Townsend comes across as such a laid back, personable figure, a total contrast to the power and often times fury in his music as is evidenced early on when he jokes with the audience about trying not to be one of those uppity type of musicians.  When the fans tell him to “talk s***,” his reaction is so funny.  Even in the concert’s more subdued musical moments, there is so much power thanks to the band’s attention to the songs’ lyrical content and the emotion meant to be interpreted in each.  That attention to the songs’ emotional impact through their arrangements deepens the overall impact of the group’s performance in this concert.  That in turn proves even more the importance of the group’s performance to the concert’s overall presentation.  When it is coupled with the show’s set list – which by the way is presented in the same order both on DVD/BD as it is on CD – the whole of those elements makes the recording in whole all the more enjoyable.  Even with all of this in mind, these two elements are not the recording’s only important elements.  The recording’s bonus material rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material included in the recording is a nearly half-hour documentary that showed how the concert came to life.  From the pre-planning stage to the rehearsals to showtime, it’s all there.  Along the way, there is also an intimate one-on-one interview between Townsend and an interviewer during which Townsend talks about making the concert happen, his influences and also what led to his decision to disband Devin Townsend Project.  Audiences will be so moved by Townsend’s thoughtful response to that question.  He notes here his respect for his band mates and that he just felt that basically it was his own personal growth.  One can tell through his response that he was being honest and not just paying lip service to the interviewer.  In the same breath, there is also a much more light-hearted moment when Townsend appears on a local talk show to promote his concert.  His reaction to the host, who clearly was full of hot air, is classic.  The host’s reaction to being called out is just as funny.  Between these moments and the detail of the rehearsals and other preps for the concerts, audiences get in this bonus featurette, an in-depth look at just how much time and effort went into making this concert a reality.  It also shows a side of Townsend that most otherwise might not get to see.  That overall content proves the bonus material to be just as important to this recording’s presentation as the recording’s set list and featured performance.  When all three elements are considered together, they prove Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv to be a fitting finale from Townsend’s latest project, even though the album presented here is one of his solo albums.  That aside, Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv is a recording that every Devin Townsend fan will appreciate and enjoy.

Devin Townsend’s new live recording Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv is a fitting final live recording from Devin Townsend Project…at least for now.  Hopefully it isn’t the very last that audiences will ever get from the group.  Maybe some archived shows will be released later.  Either way, the recording proves to be enjoyable for any Devin Townsend fan.  As has been shown here, that is proven in part through an extensive two-set performance from Townsend and company.  That performance includes a full anniversary performance of Ocean Machine and a handful of select songs for a rich whole.  The performance of the songs by Townsend and company adds to the recording’s overall enjoyment.  The bonus material included with the recording puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item is important in its own right in examining the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv a presentation that every Devin Townsend fan will appreciate and that is potentially one more of this year’s top new live recordings.  It will be available July 6 via InsideOut Music.  More information on Ocean Machine — Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv is available online now along with all of Devin Townsend’s latest news and more at:


Website: http://www.hevydevy.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dvntownsend


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In Search of Sun Debuts ‘In The Garden’ Video

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Up-and-coming rock band In Search of Sun has unveiled its latest music video.

The band debuted the video for its latest single, ‘In The Garden‘ on Thursday.  The song is taken from the band’s 2017 Spinefarm Records release Virgin Funk Mother, and is the album’s third single.  Co-directed by the band’s front man Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, the video sees the band performing its new single in a dark forest setting.  Throughout the performance, Leader is searching through the forest for something with a flashlight, at points finding his band mates in a fashion completely unlike themselves.

The video’s scenario serves to illustrate the song’s message, which as Leader noted in a recent interview, is about certain negative types.

“There are plenty of leeches in this world that have no other intentions but to suck the life out of you for their own selfish reasons, especially when they choose not to understand the importance of the ones closest to them, striving to achieve something creative and worthwhile, which we all know takes years of mental, physical and financial sacrifice,” Leader said.

He added the song’s message is a strongly worded statement aimed at those “leeches.”

“‘In The Garden’ is a massive f-u statement to every single self-absorbed individual out there unwilling to let the people closest to them grow and flourish,” Leader said.  “You, the narcissists, are the ones who will wind up alone, because you choose to not have the capacity to unconditionally love others, and instead continue to believe that the world revolves around you.  You should’ve known better!”

More information on ‘In The Garden’ is available online along with all of In Search of Sun’s latest news and more at:


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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/seach_sun


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Mushroomhead Announces New DVD, Tour Dates

Courtesy: Megaforce Records

Mushroomhead has a new DVD and tour on the way this summer.

The veteran Cleveland, Ohio-based metal outfit announced Thursday that it will release its new DVD, titled simply Volume III on Friday, August 17, 2018 via Megaforce Records.  The DVD will feature 90 minutes of new material including live material, live footage, commentary and more.

Megaforce Records is streaming a trailer for Volume III online now.  Pre-orders are open now via Amazon.

In celebration of the DVD’s release, the band will headline the “Summer of Screams Tour,” which starts August 17 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The tour is currently scheduled to run through September 15 and include performances also from Powerman 5000, Voodoo Terror Tribe, The Browning and others.  The tour’s schedule includes stops in Virginia Beach, Virginia; Fort Worth, Texas; Los Angeles, California and many other cities.

The tour’s current schedule — including band lineup schedule — is noted below.

The Summer of Screams tour line-up:
Powerman 5000 (9-2 to 9-15)
The Browning
Psychostick (8-17 to 8-31)
Kissing Candice
Unsaid Fate
Voodoo Terror Tribe (8-17 to 8-30)/Earth Caller (8-31 to 9-15)
The Summer of Screams tour dates:
8-17 Indianapolis, IN – Emerson Theater
8-18 Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater
8-19 Toronto, ON – Rockpile West
8-21 Manchester, NH – Bungalow
8-22 Poughkeepsie, NY – The Chance
8-23 Virginia Beach, VA – Shaka’s
8-24 Spartanburg, SC – Groundzero
8-25 Huntsville, AL – Sidetracks Music Hall
8-26 New Orleans, LA – Southport Music Hall
8-28 Houston, TX – Houston Underground
8-29 Austin, TX – Come and Take It Live
8-30 Laredo, TX – Ethos Live
8-31 Fort Worth, TX – The Rail Club
9-2 Los Angeles, CA – 1720
9-4 Orangevale, CA – The Boardwalk
9-5 Portland, OR – Dante’s
9-6 Seattle, WA – El Corazon
9-7 Billings, MT – Pub Station
9-8 Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
9-9 Denver, CO – Roxy Theater
9-11 Merriam, KS – Aftershock
9-12 Waterloo, IA – Spicoli’s
9-13 Minneapolis, MN – Skyway Theatre
9-14 Ringle, WI – Q & Z Expo Center
9-15 Chicago, IL – Patio Theater

Volume III comes four years after the release of Mushroomhead’s most recent album the Righteous and the Butterfly (2014).  That album went on to become the band’s most successful charting album to date, debuting at #20 on the Billboard Top 200, #1 on the Billboard Independent Chart and #1 on the Billboard Hard Rock Chart.

More information on Volume III is available online now along with all of Mushroomhead’s latest news and more at:


Website: http://www.mushroomhead.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mushroomhead


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.



Listeners Of All Ages Will Enjoy Hullabaloo’s ’20 Songs…’ For 20 Days And More

Courtesy: Hullabaloo Happy

Over the course of the past 14 years, kindie-folk act Hullabaloo has built quite the reputation for itself with its unique brand of music.  Founded by musician Steve Denyes, the San Diego, California-based outfit has established a positive reputation for itself over that time.  Late this past March, Hullabaloo strengthened that reputation even more when it released its latest album 20 Songs in 20 Days.  Its 14th new album, this 20 song record takes Hullabaloo’s trademark folk sound and couples it with 20 different lyrical themes – from  serious to downright silly — to make a record that keeps listeners of all ages entertained from start to end.  ‘Kicking Up Dust,’ which comes just past the album’s halfway point, is just one of the album’s entries that serves to support that statement.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘My Trip To Paris’ supports that statement in its own unique way, too.  It will be discussed later.  ‘She’s Not Just My Sister’ is one more song that supports the noted statement, and will be discussed later, too.  These songs are hardly the one additions to the 20 Songs in 20 Days that serve to show what makes the album enjoyable for its intended audiences.  It would be just as easy to cite the likes of ‘Help! A Snake Is Going To Eat Me,’ ‘Best Day of Fishing’ and ‘Supermoon’ and any of the album’s other entries to support the noted statement, too.  All things considered, 20 Songs in 20 days is a record that will entertain audiences for 20 days and beyond.

Veteran kindie-folk act Hullabaloo’s latest album 20 Songs in 20 Days is a record that is just as certain to entertain folk music aficionados as it is the group’s own fans.  It is a work that will entertain said audiences for 20 days and beyond.  That is evidenced in part through the country/folk style opus ‘Kicking Up Dust.’  The simple, acoustic arrangement boasts influences from the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and others along those lines.  Keeping that in mind, its arrangement is such that it will definitely appeal to certain older audiences, not just children.  Its lyrical content is just as certain to appeal to older listeners as younger, too.  That is because the song comes across as a tribute to America’s farmers who wake up before the first rays of light (and work through the day) just so that Americans can have the food that we eat.  This is evidenced as Denyes sings, “Welll I’m up every morning in my work clothes/About an hour and a half before the rooster crows/Nobody’s awake, but my old dog Jake and me/Well I can’t wait around for the rest of my pack/The sleepy heads will just hold me back/I’m a man with a plan and I got places to be/I’m kicking up dust/I’m breaking new ground/I’m getting things done/When you’re lying around/I’m kicking up dust/I’m leaving now/I got rows to how and fields to plow.”  He goes on to say in the song’s second verse (he actually delivers the song’s lyrics in a very spoken word style, adding to the song’s interest), “Well right about noon I’ll stop for lunch/But I don’t sit down with the rest of the bunch/And there’s just no way that I’m gonna stay for dessert/I get right back to work when my belly’s full/I got crops to tend, I got weeds to pull/I got a whole bag of seeds that need to be in the dirt/I’m kicking up dist/I’m breaking new ground/I’m getting things done/When you’re lying around/I’m kicking up dust/I’m leaving now/I got rows to hoe and fields to plow.”  The song’s third and final verse is relatively short.  It sees the song’s subject telling listeners about dreaming about working the fields even as he sleeps.  Even at day’s end, the farmer is still working the fields, just in his own mind.  Again, it’s a strong statement that continues to pay tribute to what farmers nationwide do and all that they are.  Given, there are country music songs spread across the mainstream country music realm about farmers and farming, but none are delivered in the fashion in which this song does lyrically.  Keeping that in mind, that lyrical approach (and vocal delivery style) add to the song’s originality.  When joined with the song’s catchy musical arrangement, they make the song in whole a clear example of what makes 20 Songs in 20 Days such an enjoyable offering from Hullabaloo.  It is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  My Trip To Paris’ also supports that statement.

‘My Trip To Paris’ is a fun, silly song about Denyes taking a trip to Paris and the laughs brought by his inability to speak French.  He sings (in that near spoken word style again) about saying to someone, “Hello, good sir/I’d like some cheese with a nice ocean view/Good night pretty bird/I’m gonna steal all your feathers from you.”  Denye even says jokingly, “you know, I think something must be lost in translation. Let’s go back to French.”  His translation actually did not get lost as he joking says.  The closest translation of the song, which says, “bonjour monsieur. fromage a la plage S’il vous plaît. bonsoir. Avoir. alouette  je te plumerai” is in fact “Hello sir. cheese at the beach Please. Good evening. To have. Lark, I will pluck you.”  To that end, Denye’s translation is not far off, and definitely makes for its own share of laughs.  It’s like he got a certain children’s song – which now translated seems kind of violent as it is about someone plucking feathers from a bird’s body, head to foot – and crosses that with a bunch of nonsense about eating cheese on the beach.  To a certain extent, it’s a certain self-deprecating humor about Denye’s inability to communicate with the French.  On another level, one could also argue here that Denye is using this light-hearted experience as an anecdote to explain the importance of multiculturalism.  That might be a bit of a stretch, but it is this critic’s own interpretation.  That aside, this song is another addition to this album that is certain to stick in listeners’ heads.  To that end, it becomes another clear example of what makes the album in whole such a surprisingly enjoyable album.  It still is not the last of the album’s key entries.  ‘She’s Not Just My Sister’ is another key addition to the album.

‘She’s Not Just My Sister’ is pivotal to the album’s whole because of its timeliness.  Considering who (and what) is running this country right now – and what with the MeToo movement still going on – this song comes along at a key moment.  It presents the song’s subject as a strong candidate for the highest office in the land, having won 99 percent of the nation’s votes in a hypothetical election.  The song’s subject even goes so far as to say that the one percent who didn’t vote for her would still come to love her.  One a deeper level, that one percent could be Denye taking a subtle, veiled swipe at the “one percent” who have been addressed in so many protests in the past year or so.  This is all set against a decidedly Pete Seeger style musical arrangement. That aside, the song serves as a reminder that women can do anything that men can do, an important, empowering message that is always needed and welcome.  When this serious message is considered along with the more light-hearted fun of ‘My Trip To Paris,’ the moving tribute to America’s farmers and all of the other mix of silly and serious songs included here, the end result is an album that once again, proves appealing to listeners of all ages.  That wide-ranging appeal, both musically and lyrically, proves the album to be a viable candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family albums.

Hullabaloo’s 14th full-length studio recording 20 songs in 20 Days is another enjoyable effort that proves this kindie-folk act has hardly lost its step over the course of its life.  That is evidenced partially through arrangements that will appeal just as much to grown up fans of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and other similar performers as it will to younger listeners.  The album’s lyrical content, in its own way, will reach just as wide a range of listeners, as has been explained here.  Both elements are equally important in each of the album’s…well…20 songs.  When they are considered from start to end, they prove the album to be a record that audiences will enjoy for 20 days and beyond.  It is available now.  More information on 20 Songs in 20 Days is available online now along with all of Hullabaloo’s latest news and more at:




Website: http://www.hullabalooband.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Hullabaloo-220028144692974

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hullabaloosteve




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Exmortus’ Latest LP Lives Up To Its Title And Then Some

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

It’s hard to believe, but this year is already almost halfway over.  Not to get too much into semantics, but it isn’t halfway over until this month is over.  Over the course of the first half of 2018, the hard rock and metal community has seen so many powerful new records released.  Surprisingly enjoyable new albums from the likes of Judas Priest, TesseracT, Black Label Society and so many others have given hard rock and metal fans plenty about which to be happy during the first half of the year.  Now as we look toward the second half of the year, veteran metal outfit Exmortus is setting the pace for the field with its latest full-length studio recording, The Sound of Steel.  Front man Jadren “Conan” Gonzalez explained the record in a recent interview, saying, “This new record takes the best from both Slave and Ride albums, and adds a killer twist especially accentuated by Chase Becker and Carlos Cruz of Warbringer while still paying homage to our classic favorites like Priest, Yngwie, Slayer, etc. “We also deliver, tastefully, the extremities of black/death metal and of course the neo-classical structure/harmony that we are known for.  This is what we believe to be The Sound of Steel.”  Gonzalez’s statements here are spot on as this record proves to be everything that Exmortus’ fans have comes to expect from the San Diego, California-based band as is evidenced by the album’s lead single ‘Make Haste.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  ‘Into The Maw of Hell’ delves into those death metal roots that Gonzalez noted.  It will be discussed later.  The full-on instrumental ‘Tempest,’ which comes much later into the album, is yet another example of what Gonzalez discussed of the album.  Between this song, the others noted here and the album’s other seven entries, it can be said of The Sound of Steel that it is a strong new effort from the veteran metal act and an equally strong lead off to the second half of 2018 for the hard rock and metal community.

Veteran metal outfit Exmortus’ latest album The Sound of Steel — its fifth full-length studio recording – is yet another impressive offering from the San Diego, California-based band and an equally strong start to the second half of 2018 for the metal community.  That is because from start to finish, it proves to be everything that audiences have come to expect from the band.  These statements are supported right from the album’s outset in the form of its opener, ‘Make Haste.’  Gonzalez said of this song that it was “inspired by the constant pressure of making deadlines and getting s*** done…and will set the mood and attitude just right as the opening track.”  He could not be more right, as the energy in the song’s full-throttle musical arrangement conveys a certain urgency.  That is clearly evidenced through the song’s dual-guitar attack and impeccable time keeping from Gonzalez, fellow guitarist Chase Becker and drummer Carlos Cruz.  Bassist Cody Nunez adds a nice counterpoint to the guitars with his low-end, rounding out the song’s old school thrash arrangement.  It is a sound that will impress the band’s more seasoned audiences just as much as it will casual thrash metal fans.  In regards to its lyrical content, the song is just as interesting as it hints at a battle between foes.  Of course, the album’s artwork somewhat adds to that interpretation as Gonzalez screams, “Rise up you lazy lot/We must make haste/Strike now while the iron’s hot/There’s no time to waste/Prepare for war/Behold new steel is forged/Rush into battle/We will take them by surprise/Crush them to dust/They will not see the sun arise/Lay all to waste/Leave not a trace/More steel be wrought/No time for thought/Behold our strength/Make haste.”  This comes across as a war cry of sorts, a leader getting his soldiers ready for battle, and it is a message that continues on in similar fashion in the song’s second verse.  The second verse sees the song’s subject telling his troops to lay waste to the lands and to be merciless against all foes.  Again, this is familiar territory for Exmortus, lyrically speaking, and once again conjures comparisons to the likes of Amon Amarth with said content.  At the same time, it’s nice to see that the band is, again, not just trying to copy said band’s style lyrically (or musically).  To that end, the song proves even more why it is such a solid representation of all that The Sound of Steel has to offer listeners.  It’s only one of the songs that serves this purpose, too.  ‘Into The Maw of Hell’ is another of the album’s entries that supports that statement.

‘Into The Maw Of Hell’ is another standout addition to The Sound of Steel, as with the album’s opener, in part because of its musical arrangement.  While this song is not the full-throttle shred-fest that was the arrangement at the center of ‘Make Haste,’ it still boasts its own positives, most notably its heaviness and drums.  Some may call it a stretch, but a close listen to this arrangement leaves one imagining what it would be like if Dream Theater and Iced Earth crossed paths with Megadeth.  It is a truly interesting composition that is certain to be one of the album’s most notable works.  Of course the song’s arrangement is only one part of what makes it stand out.  Its lyrical content is certain to generate its own interest because of its seeming socio-politically charged commentary.  That seeming commentary comes as Gonzalez screams in the song’s lead verse, “You claim to know right from wrong/Yet you bask in your hypocrisy/As for me, I know where you belong/Practice what you preach/I’ll make you see the maw of hell.”  Now for those who might not be familiar with the term “maw,” a maw is – according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary – “the throat, gullet or jaws especially of a voracious animal” as well as “the receptacle into which food is taken by swallowing.”  So in other words, this song’s subject is addressing the hypocritical masses of the world (who could easily be the world’s political and religious leaders as well as ordinary people) who say one thing and do another, telling them that they belong in the mouth of hell.  That’s a pretty acerbic statement to say the very least.  He goes on to scream in the song’s second verse, “Hell on Earth…Grim reality/This cannot be true/On and on…dark is rising before we’re back into the maw of hell.”  He continues on to note in the song’s third verse that the world is in fact going to hell…maybe not literally, but it’s going to hell in the proverbial hand basket, continuing the theme that was started in the song’s lead verse, basically saying Earth has become its own hell because of the actions of certain figures.  Again, it makes for a powerful statement; a statement that when coupled with an equally powerful musical arrangement, makes the song in whole stand out even more.  When it’s all said and done, the whole of the song proves yet again why The Sound of Steel is another solid effort from Exmortus and an equally strong lead off to the second half of 2018.  It still is not the last of the songs that serves to support those statements.  The full-on instrumental that is ‘Tempest’ is yet another work that supports those statements

‘Tempest’ does all of its talking solely through it arrangement rather than relying on any lyrical themes, and does quite the impressive job of communicating, too.  It crosses the band’s modern metal shredding chops with its ability to handle neo-classical sounds for a whole that truly comes across as a certain controlled chaos.  That is evidenced in the expert balance of the previously noted dual guitar attack of Gonzalez and Becker with Nunez’s bass line.  Each musician gets his moment to shine here and do so with full precision while Cruz never once loses the beat, at times mirroring the one and only Mike Portnoy with his chops and time keeping.  The end result of the group’s collective work is a musical storm that is just as impressive as any of the instrumentals presented in the band’s past records without rehashing said works at the same time, making it stand out that much more.  Keeping this in mind, when it is considered along with the other songs noted here and those not directly noted in this review, the end result is an album that the metal legions in general will appreciate just as much as Exmortus’ most devout fan base.  To that end, this album proves in whole that it is indeed its own steel solid offering and an equally strong start to the second half of this year.

Exmortus’ fifth full-length studio recording The Sound of Steel is a record that proves over the course of its 10 song, 42-minute run to live up to front man Jadren Gonzalez’s words.  It conjures thoughts of the most solid steel, and in turn proves to be just as solid of a start to the second half of 2018.  That is evidenced in part through musical arrangements that join the best elements of modern and old school metal and in turn make for a musical whole that metal purists and Exmortus fans alike will appreciate.  The album’s lyrical content, which offers its own share of interest, joins with the interest created through the album’s musical arrangements to make the album in whole another strong effort from the band.  As a matter of fact, the whole of the album proves it to be, in comparison to the year’s other current metal and hard rock albums, another easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best in said category.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on The Sound of Steel is available online now at:










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Poag’s Latest LP Proves He Is One Of The Music Industry’s Best Kept Secrets

Courtesy: Danal Music, LLC

Almost two years have passed since independent singer-songwriter Vincent Poag released his most recent album For The Girls.  Later this month, on June 29, that wait will come to an end when he releases his new album Heroes and Demons.  The 10-song record will be released via Danal Music, LLC.  It is a record that will appeal to fans of folk and classic rock.  That is thanks to both the album’s musical and lyrical content, as is evidenced right from the album’s outset in its opener ‘Beautiful Day.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  ‘Young Again’ is another of the songs that serves to support that proves the album’s appeal for classic rock and folk fans.  It will be discussed later.  ‘And The Ocean Rolls’ is yet another example of what makes this record’s appeal so wide-ranging.  It will also be discussed later.  Each song in its own right, proves the album’s appeal.  They are not the only examples of the album’s strength and appeal, though.  The moving war story presented in ‘Sir Nicholas Winton,’ the light vibe of ‘Pipe Play’ and ‘Daisy’ all could be cited, too along with the other four songs not noted here.  All things considered, this record proves in whole to be another win for Vincent Poag.

Vincent Poag’s new full-length album Heroes & Demons is another strong new effort from the independent, New York-based singer-songwriter.  It is a record whose appeal reaches fans of the folk genre and classic rock alike.  Those noted audiences will agree in hearing the album from start to finish that it is a successful effort overall, too.  The album’s opener, ‘Beautiful Day’ is just one of the songs that serves to support those statements.  This is proven through the song’s simple, guitar-driven arrangement.  Its light, upbeat vibe, which is strengthened the accompanying tuba, flute and Poag’s own vocal delivery expertly illustrates the song’s equally positive lyrics.  Poag sings here, “What a beautiful day/With the sun shining bright/Cotton cloud/Sky of blue/And a star-spangled night/You in my arms/Everything going right/Gonna hold onto this/With all my might/What a beautiful day/Not a care in sight/Just a cool, gentle breeze/And it’s feeling so nice/With the one that I love/On a picnic in paradise/Just one of those nights/Where the stars are aligned/Holding your hand like lucky dice/Lucky to be/In love/Lucky to be alive/Just a beautiful day/With you by my side/Holding you close/High on your eyes/You have got me/Completely mesmerized/You’re all that I need/And we still have all night/Somehow I knew/Had to be you/In my life/Never looked back/Never thought twice/One of those days/Every once in a while/Everything going your way/Seeing clearly for miles/And miles/Looking out at the world/through the eyes of a child/One of those days/Where you just have to smile.”  Compared by most to the likes of Bobby McFerrin’s hit single ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy,’ those comparisons are easy.  One could also compare this song both musically and lyrically to works from musical great Randy Newman and – to a lesser extent – Jack Johnson.  It’s a wonderful way to open the album that is certain to put a smile on listeners’ faces.  The comparisons to the noted audiences shows without doubt that previously noted reach, supporting the noted statement of the album’s potential success.  It is just one of the songs included in this record to support those statements.  ‘Young Again’ is another example of what makes this album another strong effort from Vincent Poag.

‘Young Again’ shows in its own way why Heroes & Demons is another strong effort from Poag.  As with the album’s opener, that is due in no small part to its guitar-driven arrangement.  The classic rock style approach taken by Paog instantly lends itself to comparisons with rock the one and only John Fogerty.  In the same breath, one could just as easily make comparisons to the likes of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp.  Paog is not the only one to be credited with having made such comparisons happen.  His fellow musicians – drummer Larry Lelli, organist Kathy Sommer, and bassist/guitarist Matt Anthony – add their own special touch to the song.  The whole of the group’s efforts is one of this record’s highest points, musically speaking.  In terms of its lyrical content, it proves just as interesting as Poag sings, “Once I was invincible/Had to learn things hard/Damn the consequences/Casual disregard/Strapped in destiny’s parachute/Fate upon the wind/Oh, to be young again.”  Immediately, what listeners get here is a familiar topic.  It is someone looking back on his or her life, yearning for those glory days gone by.  Who hasn’t been there?  What’s really interesting here is that Poag and company could so easily have made this into an “oh woe is me” moment.  But instead, they opted to create an air of understanding those days are gone but still wishing they were still here.  Again, this is something to which so many people can relate.  Who out there has not had one of those moments, not sad, but just remembering fondly those days of yore?  That is the feeling that this song exhibits.  This is proven even more in the song’s second verse, in which Poag sings, “Head full of ideals/Champion of the underdog/Feelings unconcealed/Heavy-hearted lover/Bullet for a friend/Oh, to be young again/Mirror on the wall/Don’t you talk to me/Bones might have some aches and pains/But my heart’s 23.”  Once more, this is someone remembering those days gone by with a certain fondness while still yearning to some extent for those days.  It is a nice approach to a familiar topic that continues on into the song’s final verse, too.  Keeping this in mind, the semi-bittersweet vibe of this song – both musically and lyrically – shows once again a certain sensibility about the record’s creative process.  That sensibility again shows what makes the album another strong offering from Poag, and still is not the last of the songs that proves the album’s strength and potential for success.  ‘And The Ocean Rolls,’ the album’s finale, supports those statements.

‘And The Ocean Rolls’ is an intriguing addition to Heroes & Demons because of how much it stands out both musically and lyrically to its counterparts.  One can only assume in listening through this nearly three-and-a-half-minute work that it is a military tribute of sorts thanks to its arrangement.  Between the solid, snare drum-driven march tempo and vibe, choral backing and horns, it comes across as something that would play against a scene from some World War II epic.  He sings of individuals crossing the ocean “in a boat with holes/As the tide flowss/And the ocean rolls.”  He also sings early on in the song of those people crossing the ocean, “When it’s not enough/Can’t depend on luck/Can’t be given up/Things that mean so much/A better life behold/Bells of freedom toll/As the tide flows/And the ocean rolls/Shine us down/A ray/Are we worthy/We aren’t holy/We are only…Help us find the way/To a better day.”  He also sings of having “blind faith,” having “come a long way.”  The powerful final seconds put the finishing touch to the song.  Again, it is only an assumption that this song has anything to do with the military, but considering such lyrical content as noted here, one has to assume even more than Poag is trying to get into the heads of the men who gave all so that the free world could have all.  It is definitely an original and powerful way to do just that if that is indeed what he is trying to do here.  Regardless, Poag and his fellow musicians – Larry Lelli, Frank Vilardi, Andrew porter (all on percussion), Tony Kadleck, Jon Owens (trumpet), Keith O’Quinn, Birch Johnson, Timothy Sessions (trombone), Jake Gluckman, Luke Wroblewski, David Jordan, Nick Massoud (backing vocals) – have presented a story through this song’s musical and lyrical content that is certain to stir listeners in the best way possible and at the same time prove to be one more of the album’s highest points.  Keeping this in mind, it is without doubt one more way in which Heroes & Demons proves to be such a solid album.  When it is considered alongside the other noted songs and those not directly noted here, the end result is the agreement that Heroes & Demons is another successful offering from a singer-songwriter who deserves so much more attention and credit than he has gotten and that he gets now.  It is a work that proves Vincent Poag continues to have a bright future regardless of that support.

Vincent Poag’s new album Heroes & Demons is a strong new effort from a singer-songwriter (and his fellow musicians).  That is because of the course of its 37-minute run time, it clearly exhibits Poag’s songwriting ability as well as his musical ability.  The added music contributed by his fellow musicians in each song deepens the album’s enjoyment even more.  This is evidenced clearly in all three of the songs noted here.  It is made even clearer when those songs are examined along with the rest of the album’s entries.  All things considered, this latest effort from Vincent Poag proves itself with ease to be another viable candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new albums overall.  It will be available June 29.  More information on Heroes & Demons is available online now along with all of Poag’s latest news and more at:




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