‘Tu’ Is A Strong First Musical Salvo From Alien Weaponry

Courtesy: Napalm Records

New Zealand has, in recent years, started making a name for itself in the music community.  That was thanks to the breakout success of the hard rock band Like A Storm.  Early this summer, yet another band from New Zealand started making a name for itself in the form of Alien Weaponry.  The young, up-and-coming metal outfit released its debut album Tu June 1 through Napalm Records.  In the months since its release the record has earned its own share of acclaim thanks to its musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  Much the same can be said of the album’s lyrical content.  Both items will be addressed here, along with the album’s overall sequencing.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Tu a solid debut for Alien Weaponry that shows great promise for the band’s future.

Alien Weaponry’s debut album Tu is one of the biggest surprises of this year’s hard rock and metal community.  It is a strong debut for the New Zealand-based band.  That is due in part to the album’s musical arrangements.  From start to end, the arrangements lend themselves so easily to the best works of Sepultura and Soulfly. The album opens with a familiar tribal sounding spoken word track in ‘Whaikorero’ that, again, presents that comparison to the band’s Brazilian counterparts.  That spoken word intro gives way to a full on aural assault that even more lends itself to comparisons to the noted bands.  The familiar thrash sound continues as the album progresses into ‘Holding My Breath,’ which is itself a very heavy song lyrically just as much as it is musically.  The heaviness continues on into ‘Raupatu’ and ‘Kai Tangata,’ which is musically yet another very close work to those of Sepultura and Soulfly.  The same applies to all of the works that make up the second half of the record.  Right to the end, listeners get a sound from the band’s arrangements that while familiar is still unique to the band, giving audiences plenty just from this aspect to appreciate..  The familiar yet unique musical arrangements featured throughout this album are key in their own way to the album’s presentation, but are certainly not the album’s only selling point.  Its lyrical content is just as noteworthy as its musical content.

The lyrical content featured throughout the course of Tu is important to discuss because, again much like Sepultura and Soulfly, is rife with sociopolitical commentary from start to end.  The album opens, in fact, with the spoken word track ‘Whaikorero,’ which addresses the invasion of Queen Victoria’s military forces in the now infamous Invasion of the Waikato.  That invasion was led by Lt.-Gen. Duncan Cameron and was the biggest conflict of the 19th Century New Zealand Wars.  It involved British Colonial military forces and members of the Kingatana Movement.  The British Colonial forces defeated the Kingatan forces after nine months of combat, leaving them in poverty, but in 1995, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Waikato-Raupatu Claims Settlement Act of 1995 returning some land to members of the Waiakto-Tainui Tribe as well as financial compensation as a means to make a certain peace with those peoples.  Odds are that most audiences were unaware of this conflict prior to learning about it from the members of Alien Weaponry.  To that end, it stands out, along with the likes of ‘Ru Ana Te Whenua,’ ‘Raupatu’ and Whispers’ because of that outright commentary.

On an equally sociopolitical level, but not as intense as the other noted songs, audiences also get a commentary about the dangers of social media in ‘PC Bro.’  This song tackles the impact of social media on society today.  Front man Lewis de Jong sings in the song’s lead verse, “Flickering screens against glassy dead eyes/Have now become the norm/They live their lives through others’ eyes/Willing more and more/That you lose to the pressure/The watching eyes of the masses/Kill common sense/The media rules you/They are bored with your life/You need to make it right/To satisfy the fixated idiots that see your every move.”  He adds later in the song, “When will they see/That your life is a lie.”  This is pretty much spot on.  Given it is hardly the first time that any act has taken on the issue of social media and its negative impacts, but even with that in mind, it is still important to keep that reminder out there in hopes that people will eventually realize what social media has done and continues to do to the world.

The social and political commentary does not end with ‘PC Bro.’  The band takes on the very prominent issue of mental health with ‘Holding My Breath.’  De Jong sings in this song’s lead verse, “Before you judge me/Take a good hard look at yourself/You don’t know me/But you’re draining me of mental health/A lie based on popular opinion/I want to die ‘cause I can’t be forgiven/Locked in a room/Void of humanity/I’m in a black hole/suffering endlessly/Opening my eyes is worse than death/That’s why I keep on holding my breath.”  This is someone who is battling terribly, the effect of emotional and mental abuse, clearly.  This song is meant to bring to light, the very real and very serious concern of what people go through.  They point out here to people who are suffering from those negative thoughts that they are not alone.  It is a warning to everyone that people hold in those feelings so people need love.  That is of course this critic’s take on this song.  Hopefully it is somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  If it is, then keeping it in mind along with the other songs noted here and the brutal musical content presented throughout the album, the record’s musical and lyrical content collectively does a lot to make the album stand out.  The musical and lyrical content is just a portion of what makes the record noteworthy.  Its overall sequencing is just as important to address as its general content.

The sequencing of Tu is so important to address because that work plays just as much into keeping listeners engaged and entertained as the album’s content.  It is clear in listening to the album from start to finish, the album’s energy never lets up.  The heaviness even in the simplicity of the album’s spoken word opener gives way to the already noted full-on heaviness of ‘Ru Ana Te Whenua.’  ‘Holding My Breath’ offers listeners its own intense thrash metal sound, as does ‘Raupatu.’  The same can be said of ‘Kai Tangata,’ which immediately follows ‘Raupatu,’ and ‘Rage – It Takes Over Again.’  From that point on, the energy and fire lets up little, if any.  In other words, those behind the glass and the boards made certain that listeners would have an album in Tu that ensured itself one of those rare albums worth taking in from start to end without stopping just as much through its sequencing as through its content.  Keeping all of that in mind, the album in whole proves to be a solid start for Alien Weaponry, and a record that makes the band the heir apparent to the throne of Sepultura and Soulfly.

Alien Weaponry’s debut album Tu is its own powerful first musical strike from the up-and-coming hard rock band.  It is a work that makes this band the heir apparent to the thrones of Soulfly and Sepultura with its musical and lyrical content.  That is due in large part to its collective musical and lyrical content.  When that is considered alongside the album’s sequencing, the whole of the elements makes Tu a record that puts the rest of the metal and hard rock community on notice that Alien Weaponry is locked, loaded and ready to go for years to come.  The album is available now through Napalm Records.  More information on Tu is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and tour dates at:

 

 

 

Website: http://alienweaponry.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlienWeaponry

 

 

 

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‘Walk The Sky’ Shows The “Sky” Is Still The Limit For Alter Bridge

Courtesy: Napalm Records

The wait is almost over for Alter Bridge’s new album.  Walk The Sky is scheduled for release Oct. 18, and the band has already been busy touring in support of the record, getting audiences excited about its release.  The hour-long album offers plenty for audiences to appreciate with its powerful musical arrangements and its seemingly recurring lyrical theme of our life choices and their impacts.  The album’s opener ‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ is one of the most notable of the album’s songs that supports that statement.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘The Bitter End,’ which comes later in the album’s run, serves just as much as ‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ to support the noted statement.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Tear Us Apart,’ the album’s penultimate composition, is one more example of how the album’s musical and lyrical content serves to give listeners so much to appreciate.  When it is considered alongside the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the end result is a record that shows the “sky” is the limit for Alter Bridge.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

Alter Bridge’s new album Walk The Sky is another strong new effort from the veteran hard rock band that is certain to appeal to the band’s longtime fans just as much as its newer fans.  That is thanks to its powerful musical arrangements and its equally strong lyrical content, which seems to address the choices we make in life and the result of those choices.  The album’s lead single ‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ is one of the most notable of the songs that serves to support those statements.  The song’s musical arrangement is yet another of the powerhouse compositions for which the band has come to be known, led by the dual guitar approach of Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy.  Drummer Scott Phillips’ time keeping is solid throughout, while bassist Brian Marshall’s low-end fills out the song’s arrangement.  Each musician joins with the others to make the nearly four-minute opus a great start for the record both as a single and as the album’s official opener, if only for its musical content.  That content is only one part of what makes the song stand out, though.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical content.

The song’s lyrical content is important to discuss because it encourages listeners to live the best life that they can.  Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse, “Sell yourself short and buy a world of pain/Follow your bliss or pay the price/All of these lessons/I’ve learned them so well/There is no gain worth the commerce of self/Wouldn’t you rather/Live from the heart/A life that will matter/To be lived from the start.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “You wear an albatross around your neck/The spoils of war will bring you down/Hear my advice/May you hear every word/Don’t sacrifice meaning for riches that burn/Wouldn’t you rather/Live from the heart/A life that will matter/To be lived from the start/All of these lessons I’ve learned from myself/There is no gain worth the commerce of self/A dream left for dead/Now a nightmare that feels like hell.”  As the almost four-minute song nears its end, Kennedy reminds listeners, “I’d rather live from the heart,” reminding listeners of the noted message of living life the best that one possible can live; living life with purpose.  That and the rest of the song’s message is one that every listeners needs to hear.  When that message is coupled with the song’s hard-driving musical arrangement, the end result is a song that is powerful both musically and lyrically, and just one of the album’s most notable tracks.  ‘The Bitter End’ is another powerful song that seems to address the choices that we make in life and the impact of those choices.

‘The Bitter End’ opens, musically, with a semi-introspective feel in its arrangement, that eventually gives way to a much more ballad-esque type work.  From there, the song’s energy creates a moving sound that conjures thoughts of some of Creed’s most well-known power ballads.  Considering that save for Kennedy, the members of Alter Bridge previously recorded and performed as Creed (then with Scott Stapp), this should come as no surprise.  What’s different from those songs and this song is that this work doesn’t come across as schmaltzy as its predecessors.  Rather, there is a certain real strength to this arrangement that the noted other songs did not have.  It is just one part of the song’s importance.  The noted positive message in the song’s lyrical content makes it stand out even more.

Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse, “I’ve walked every road and turned every corner/Searched high and low where I did not belong/Adrift with the tide/Always hungry and yearning/If only I’d known the answer was here all along/the bitter end will come in time/But the joy I have found/In the sweet here and now/It keeps me alive.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, ”I’ve kissed the lips of an angel in waiting/Devil in kind/I’ve been lost and deceived/The thrill had to fade in this world for the taking/Once I woke up…Then I could see/The bitter end will come in time/But the joy I have found in the sweet here and now/It keeps me alive.”  He later adds in the song, “It’s never too late to learn how to start living right.”  This is a statement that is echoed time and again along with the song’s chorus.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song clearly proves itself another work that addresses the noted theme of our life choices and how they impact our lives overall.  When the song’s uplifting message about living life right is coupled with the song’s equally upbeat power ballad arrangement, the whole of the song becomes another of the most notable of the album’s songs that also continues the album’s overall lyrical theme.  It is not the last of the album’s most notable entries.  ‘Tear Us Apart’ presents its own unique lyrical content about the impact of the choices that we make in life.  It also features its own unique musical arrangement that will entertain and engage listeners.

‘Tear Us Apart’ is another ballad-style work, but stands on its own merits, establishing its own identity separate from the likes of ‘The Bitter End.’  It is more in line with past ballad-type arrangements that Alter Bridge’s members have crafted in its previous records.  That is a matter for another discussion as it is just one of so many songs featured in this record that combines elements of the band’s past records for a whole new here that keeps the band’s sound fresh.  The song’s musical elements join with Kennedy’s powerhouse vocals to create another power ballad that stands strong on its own two feet so to speak.  When that notable musical arrangement is coupled with the song’s lyrical content, the end result is yet another work that is its own important part of the album’s whole.

Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse, “Blindsided once again/Fooled by the fool within/Turned to a sacrifice/Lonely way to find no home/Withered…the promises you left for dead go cold/But this, too will surely fade/The truth you cannot escape/That we have to face/And learn from mistakes to grow/Don’t let the world/Tear us apart…don’t compromise/Just wait.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Drink from the poison well/Only to kill yourself alone/Wake up and take a stand.  He adds as the song continues, mentions of not giving up the love that one was meant to have before returning to the song’s chorus and reminding listeners to not compromise and that “if there’s something worth saving/Let it go/If there is something/Worth changing/Let it go/’Cause time is only wasting/Now you know.”  Once more, listeners get what comes across as a message of living life to the fullest and best; a message to not let certain elements in life get us down.  When this seeming message joins with the song’s radio ready arrangement, the whole of the song shows why it is another important part of Walk The Sky’s whole.  It is one more song that presents the album’s central theme of understanding the choices we make and how those choices impact us, and entertains listeners fully in the process.  When it is considered along with the other songs discussed here (and the rest of the album’s songs) the album shows itself in its entirety to be some of Alter Bridge’s best work to date.

Alter Bridge’s sixth full-length studio recording Walk The Sky is another impressive offering from the veteran rock band.  That is due to its collective musical arrangements, which feature elements from each of the band’s past compositions yet still present their own identities.  The noted lyrical theme, which is presented in various ways from the album’s opening to its end joins with the album’s arrangements, to make a record in whole that is not only some of Alter Bridge’s best work to date, but also one of the best rock records so far this year.  It is scheduled for release Oct. 18 through Napalm Records.  More information on the album and the band’s tour in support of the album, is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.alterbridge.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/alterbridge

 

 

 

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‘Big Tings’ Is A “Big” New Effort From Skindred

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Veteran rock act Skindred returns later this month with its seventh full-length studio recording.  Big Tings is scheduled to be released Friday, April 27 via Napalm Records, and will come almost a year and a half after the release of its most recent album Volume (2015).  This 10-song record picks up right where Volume left off, with all of the same bombast and energy of that record and its predecessors.  This is proven right from the album’s outset in the form of the album’s title track.  While this roughly 35-minute album boasts all of the energy and bombast that audiences have come to expect from Skindred, it also presents a more subdued side this time out in ‘Saying It Now.’  This song is quite the departure for the band both musically and lyrically in comparison to the album’s other offerings.  As a matter of fact, it would be no surprise if the band (or whoever makes the decisions at Napalm Records) opts for this as one of the album’s radio singles because it is such a star departure.  It’s just one more of the songs that serves to show what this record has to offer.  ‘Machine is one more example of what makes Big Tings another strong effort from Skindred, but is most certainly not the last of the album’s strong points.  ‘Tell Me’ is another interesting subdued moment included in the album, and its placement midway through the album helps to break things and in turn keep things interesting.  ‘Alive,’ with its driving arrangement, could be used as a radio single, too.  ‘That’s My Jam’ and ‘Last Chance,’ both offer plenty of heavy for fans who wanted that.  Between all of these tracks and those not noted directly here, the end result of Big Tings is a work that is a strong return for Skindred and another album from the veteran rock act that is certain to impress audiences new and old alike.

Skindred’s forthcoming seventh full-length studio recording Big Tings is a fittingly titled new offering from the veteran Welsh rock band.  That is because it is a record that displays a certain growth from the band.  The album’s closer, ‘Saying It Now’ is one of the songs that serves to exhibit that growth.  It will be discussed shortly.  Those who like the band’s heavier side get plenty of that in this record, too beginning with the album’s opener and title track.  It boasts all the bombast and energy of the band’s biggest hits from its past records, starting with a basic, yet infectious, drum beat and claps.  That opening eventually builds to an equally infectious riff that is just as certain to get stuck in listeners’ heads.  Lyrically, it’s just as big as it seemingly delves into that familiar realm of battling personal matters; not so much demons per se but so many thoughts that won’t get out of one’s head.  What’s really interesting is the song’s chorus in which Wedde sings, “Some things are bigger than me/I can’t trust myself/Some things are bigger than you/I can’t trust myself.”  It’s as if the song’s subject is telling himself to let go of those worries and concerns because some things are just bigger than any of us, and we just have to let things happen.  This is only this critic’s interpretation, and should not be taken as the only one.  Hopefully it’s somewhere in the ballpark.  Either way, it definitely makes for an interesting discussion point and start to the record.  That’s especially the case considering that this record could have been so much more of a downer than it is – musically speaking – what with that lyrical content.  Luckily, the band didn’t go that route, with the end result being a song that is certain to entertain and inspire listeners.  It’s just one of the songs that serves to show what makes this album a welcome return for Skindred.  ‘Saying It Now’ is another example of what makes Big Tings a strong new effort from Skindred.

‘Saying It Now’ is easily one of this record’s most radio ready songs.  Compared to its counterparts, it is quite the subdued composition that interestingly enough can be compared to so many songs from Sevendust.  It’s hard in its chorus sections, yet so much more controlled in its verses.  That dynamic contrast adds greatly to the song’s general effect, and in turn is just as certain as ‘Big Tings’ to pique listeners’ interest.  Of course it is only one part of what will keep listeners engaged.  Its lyrical content is just as certain to grab listeners.  Lyrically, this song comes across as a person ruing not speaking one’s mind to another while that other person was alive.  That is inferred as Webbe sings right off the top, “Tell them that you love them while they’re here/Tell them while you’ve got the chance/Always thought that you’d be here/I never imagined a world without you/I put off what I could do today/And say that I’ll go see you tomorrow/But it’s too late now/Cause you’re no longer here/I’m saying it now/But I wish I’d said it before.”  He goes on in similar fashion in the song’s second verse, singing, “I sit here crying in this room/With memories rushing back of you/So many chances now I blew/There was a million times I could have said I love you/But it’s too late now/Cause you’re no longer here.”  The song’s third and final verse follows in similar fashion as verses one and two, with the song’s subject regretting the past.  As with the album’s opener, the subject matter here leads one to think this song could have been one of those all too familiar brooding goth-esque pieces that take on self hatred, etc.  Yet, again, the band didn’t go that route, musically.  However, the song does capture the pained emotions that one might go through in the moment of losing a loved one.  This critic will attest to having felt those emotions many years ago at having lost a family member to heart failure.  Again, that ability to capture that emotion and make it relatable to audiences makes this song stand on its own merits.  Considering that this is a rare show of growth for the band both musically and lyrically, makes the song stand out just as much.  Keeping this in mind, it is another work that shows why this album is such a strong return for Skindred.  It still is not the last of the songs that serves to make the album so strong.  ‘Machine’ is yet another example of what makes this album stand out.

‘Machine,’ with its infectious guitar-driven late 80s/early 90s musical arrangement wastes no time grabbing listeners’ attention.  It is a straight-forward rocker that, musically speaking, is certain to be a live favorite just as much as a favorite on record.  That’s especially the case as the song reaches its bridge, the band singing in unison, “It saved my soul/Rock and roll.”  That chant, (which makes at least this critic think of AC/DC) set alongside drummer Arya Goggin’s steady time keeping and bassist Dan Pugsley’s steady line, will have live audiences chanting right along just as much as those who sing along on record.  The same applies as the band chants early on, “And if we don’t get what we want/We gonna take it.”  Of course that is just one part of what makes the song so appealing, lyrically.  Wedde sings in the song’s lead verse, “I’m not going out/I’m going all out/One becomes two, becomes ten, becomes all out/Now I don’t even care if I have nothing to chill out/yeah this is my scene/turn the ignition/Start the machine/Put the pedal to the metal/Put your foot on the floor…I can’t find my keys and I can’t find my phone/I’m having too much fun and I’m not going home/Wherever you’re going, I’m going, too/And if I’m going off the wheels/I’m gonna take you all the way.”  Plain and simple, this song comes across as a no-monsene balls to the walls rock and roll party song.  This is someone that’s just out for a good time.  The song’s companion video seems to hint at that, too.  This is that more familiar, heavier side that so many others have complained that they wanted on this album.  It is not the last of the album’s heavy, either.   ‘My Jam,’ the album’s new single, and ‘Last Chance’ both offer plenty of heavy while ‘Tell Me’ offers more of the band’s subdued side, changing things up in its midpoint placement in the album’s sequencing.  Between those songs, the ones noted more directly here and those not so directly noted, the whole of Big Tings proves to be in fact a “big” new record from Skindred and one that is deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.

Skindred’s forthcoming seventh full-length studio recording Big Tings is a “big” and solid new outing for the veteran Welsh rock band.  As has been noted here, songs such as the album’s opener/title track, the deeply moving album closer ‘Saying It Now,’ with its Sevendust-esque arrangement and heartfelt lyrics both prove that.  The latter of the pair especially proves it as it was a rare risk for the band otherwise known for much heavier material.  ‘Machine,’ with its driving hard rock arrangement and pure rock and roll lyrical theme proves what makes the album stand out even more.  Of course one can’t ignore other offerings on this record such as ‘Tell Me,’ ‘Last Chance’ and ‘My Jam’ in proving what makes this album so strong. Between these songs and the album’s other offerings, the album in whole proves to be a “big” return for Skindred.  The album drops April 27 via Napalm Records in stores and online.  More information on Big Tings is available online now along with all of Skindred’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.skindred.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/skindredmusic

 

 

 

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.

Alter Bridge Impresses Again On Its Latest Live Recording

Courtesy: Napalm Records

This Friday, Alter Bridge will release its latest live recording, Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities in stores and online.  The band’s third live recording, this three-disc collection is easily one of this year’s top new live CDs.  That is due in part to the concert’s extensive set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance thereof is just as important to note as the set list itself, obviously, so it will be discussed a little later.  The recording’s bonus material rounds out its most important elements, putting the final touch on the collection.  Each element is obviously important in its own right to the recording’s whole.  All things considered, the recording in whole shows easily why, again, it is one of this year’s best new live CD recordings.

Alter Bridge’s forthcoming live recording Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities is one of this year’s best new live CD recordings.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s set list.  The 19-song set list pulls from each of the band’s five current full-length studio recordings, and makes a valid attempt to represent each of those albums as fully as possible in the process.  The band’s latest album, 2016’s The Last Hero receives the most nods with six songs.  Its seminal 2007 album Blackbird gets the second most nods with five songs from that album being featured here.  Four songs are pulled from Fortress (2013) while III and the band’s 2004 debut One Day Remains each get two nods.  It would be interesting to know how the set list was chosen since each of the band’s albums presents plenty of enjoyable material.  That aside, the band is still to be commended for making the attempt to paint the fullest possible picture of its catalogue in this extensive 104-minute (1 hour, 44-minute) concert.

Looking even more deeply at the concert’s set list, audiences will be pleased to see that at no point does the set list ever stick to any of the band’s albums too long.  The set list starts at the band’s most recent album before quickly moving back to Blackbird and then on to Fortress and back to III in just its first four songs.  The change-ups remain just as constant from there on right to the end, with the band reaching into each album throughout.  In the same vein, that constant variety in the show’s set list also leads to a respectable variety in the songs’ energy, too.  The set’s first three offerings are heavy, driving compositions that eventually give way to something a little less heavy in ‘Ghosts of Days Gone By.’  The show’s energy picks right back up from there and stays high for a while before eventually pulling back again in the gentle, acoustic take of ‘Watch Over You.’  The songs’ energy rises and falls just as constantly from here, ensuring even more audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  Keeping in mind everything that has been noted so far, it becomes clear that the set list presented in Live at the O2 + Rarities is critical to the recording’s overall presentation.  It is only one of the recording’s critical elements, too.  The band’s performance of that extensive set list is just as important to the recording’s overall presentation as its set list.

The band’s performance of its nearly two-hour concert is important to note because as with any live show, a set list can only do so much for a concert.  If an act doesn’t put on a solid performance, then a show’s set list is worthless.  In the case of Alter Bridge’s performance here, the band clearly keeps its audience fully engaged and entertained throughout.  Those who didn’t get to experience the concert firsthand will find themselves just as engaged and entertained in experiencing the concert here.  From one song to the next front man Myles Kennedy, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips give their all in each song.  Kennedy’s vocals cut through like bolts of musical lightning in the concert’s most powerful moments while they move listeners just as deeply in the concert’s more reserved moments. Tremonti’s guitar work and that of his fellow musicians on their respective parts is just as impressive throughout.  The band wastes little time in-between songs with any banter, letting its collective performances do the talking for it as a whole.  The few times when it does spend some time on interludes, the most is made of those moments, too.  All things considered, the band’s performance shines here just as much as the set list that is performed.  Keeping that in mind, audiences will agree in hearing this concert that the band’s performance does just as much to entertain them as the set list itself.  Having discussed both of these key elements, the last important element to discuss here is the recording’s bonus studio recordings.

The recording’s bonus material includes two previously unreleased b-sides in ‘Cruel Sun’ and ‘Solace’ and a number of songs previously only available on exclusive editions of the band’s albums.  Those songs include ‘Breathe,’ which was also recorded during the Blackbird sessions, but was only included as an exclusive for Best Buy’s release last year of The Last Hero, ‘Never Born To Follow,’ which was released on exclusive U.S. and Japan editions of III, ‘Zero’ and ‘Home,’ both of which were also included in exclusive editions of III, along with others.  The songs themselves are impressive additions to the recording.  The fact that they are now all available in one setting makes them even more important to the recording’s whole.  It marks the first time that those exclusives have ever been available in one setting for audiences in a non-exclusive setting.  When this is considered along with the songs’ overall content (musical and lyrical), which impresses in its own right, the end result is a collection of songs that every Alter Bridge will appreciate.  When all of this is considered along with the concert’s set list and the band’s performance thereof, the whole of those elements makes Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities a live and studio offering that will impress any Alter Bridge fan, leaving them agreeing that it is indeed one of the year’s top new live CD recordings.

Alter Bridge’s new live recording Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities is one of this year’s top new live CDs.  That is due in part to the concert’s nearly two-hour set list that includes songs from each of the band’s five current full-length studio recordings.  The songs paint a clear picture of the band’s current catalogue while also balancing the concert’s energy from start to finish and those albums’ representation.  The band’s performance of that extensive set list is just as important to the recording’s whole as it is certain to keep fans who weren’t able to be at the concert just as entertained and engaged as those who were.  The bonus studio rarities and exclusives included in the set’s third disc round out its most important elements both because of the fact that it marks the first time they have been widely available for fans in one non-exclusive setting and because of their content.  Each element is important in its own right to the recording’s overall presentation.  All things considered, Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities proves in whole why it is one of the year’s top new live CD recordings.  One can only hope that a companion DVD and/or BD presentation of the concert will be released sooner rather than later to complete the recording.  More information on Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities is available online along with all of Alter Bridge’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.alterbridge.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/alterbridge

 

 

 

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Zombie Motors Wrecking Yard’s Debut LP Is Good, Not “Super”

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Zombie Motors Wrecking Yard’s debut album Supersonic Rock ’N Roll is a good start for the Australian hard-rock outfit.  However it is not as super as its title leads listeners to believe.  Even with that in mind, listeners should know that while not a total success, it is also not a total loss.  That is thanks in part to the musical arrangements presented throughout the course of the album’s 10 songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  For all of the good that those arrangements do for this record, the album’s sequencing detracts from the record’s presentation just as much.  This will be discussed later. Even as much as the record’s sequencing hurts its overall presentation, its mixing and production make up for that negative, coupling with the arrangements directly to make the album a work that, in whole is still worth an occasional listen.

Zombie Motors Wrecking Yard’s debut album Supersonic Rock ‘N’ Roll is not the best hard rock album to be released so far this year, but it is still an enjoyable start for the Australian-based hard rock outfit.  That is because over the course of its 11-songs it completely destroys its competition.  That is made evident first and foremost through the songs’ musical arrangements.  The songs’ arrangements take the best elements of Motorhead, Clutch and Pantera, mixes them with a healthy dose of stoner rock sounds for a whole that ensures listeners’ maintained engagement.  ‘Dead Smile,’ which comes very early in the album’s sequencing solidly supports that comparison thanks to the vocal delivery of the band’s front man “Mark” and the song’s dual guitar attack.  “Mark’s” vocal delivery instantly conjures thoughts of Motorhead front man Lemmy Kilmister while the song’s guitar attack just as quickly conjures thoughts of Clutch’s finest riffs.  On another note, the arrangement at the center of ‘Bad Boy Benny’ mixes elements of Clutch with AC/DC for a sound that will keep listeners just as engaged as ‘Dead Smile.’  It is much more down tempo than ‘Dead Smile’ (much like the majority of the record’s second half—this will be discussed later), but is no less heavy in its presentation.  To that end, that it is still an impressive composition in its own right, and shows again why the record’s musical arrangements are so important to the record’s overall presentation.  ‘Grind The Grinder,’ the record’s opener is one more example of why its musical arrangements are so important its overall presentation.  The song’s powerhouse guitar riffs and vocals couple with the song’s vocals to create a composition that is one part Pantera, one part Motorhead, one part Clutch and all rock and roll.  The rest of the songs featured throughout the record are musically similar to the works noted here.  Al things considered, they proves the record’s overall content to be the backbone of its presentation.  While the record’s content proves to be solid throughout, its sequencing sadly is not as solid.

The musical arrangements presented throughout the course of Supersonic Rock ‘N’ Roll’s body collectively create a solid foundation for its presentation.  That is thanks to the fact that the arrangements take the best of so many stoner and hard rock acts that have come before and melds them into one.  The end result is 10 songs that clearly pay homage to ZMRY’s forebears while also creating the band’s own musical identity.  While the record’s musical arrangements are impressive, the sequencing of those arrangements is not as impressive.  As many other critics have already pointed out, the album’s first half is a full-throttle (bad pun fully intended) rock and roll ride.  However, the record’s second half, while still heavy in its own right, is much slower than the first half.  The reason that this is so problematic is that the change in style is so sudden.  Varying the songs’ energy throughout the record’s 31-minute run time would have been far wiser than taking the course of action presented here.  That is the case even with the album ending on the same upbeat tempo on which it started.  That lack of variance in the songs’ energies is ultimately a major detractor to the record’s presentation.  It makes the record a good start, but far from super or even supersonic.  Even as much of a problem as the album’s sequencing proves to be for its presentation, it is not enough to make the record a total loss.  The album’s mixing and production couple directly with the album’s musical arrangements to make it an album that is worth an occasional listen.

The overall sequencing used for Supersonic Rock ‘N Roll’s body is a negative that cannot be ignored in examining the album’s overall presentation.  One can’t help but wonder who made the final choice in deciding the final ordering of the album’s songs.  As much of a problem as this poses, it does not make the album a total loss.  The album’s production and mixing couple directly with its arrangements to make the songs overall well worth the listen.  At no point throughout the songs do any of the separate parts overpower one another. Given, sometimes the song’s vocals get muddied and lost a little bit within the music, making understanding what is being said a little difficult.  However, this never becomes too much of an issue.  Again, the same can be said of the other parts throughout each song.  Those behind the boards are to be commended for their attention to each part’s power.  It is thanks to their work that the record’s full impact is felt from start to finish (again despite the sequencing).  Bringing everything full circle, that wise work finishing each song is what brings out the influences of the bands which this fledgling band emulated.  Taking that into account, the two elements do enough to make up for the record’s not so wise sequencing and make it overall, a record that is well worth the occasional listen by any hard rock purist.

Supersonic Rock ‘N Roll is a good start for Zombie Motors Wrecking Yard.  However, it is not super or supersonic.  It is not a total loss, though.  Powerful musical arrangements that channel the likes of Motorhead, Pantera, Clutch, and even AC/DC couple with production and mixing that expertly brings out those influences.  Their coupling makes up for sequencing which was anything but wise.  All things considered, while the record was a good start for the Australian-based band, it shows there is still room for growth, which gives some hope for the band’s future.  Supersonic Rock ‘N Roll is available now.  More information on this record is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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Fans Can “Trust” Devildriver’s New LP Will Impress

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Courtesy: Napalm Records

This Wednesday, Oct. 26th, veteran New England hardcore outfit Hatebreed will bring its “Concrete Confessional North American Tour 2016” to North Carolina’s “Queen City.”  The band is scheduled to perform live at the Fillmore in support of its new album The Concrete Confessional.  The band won’t be alone when it comes hits the stage.  Also along for the ride will be another well-known metal act that goes by the name of Devildriver.  The band is touring in support of its own new release, Trust No One, which was released early this summer.  It goes without saying in listening to this latest full-length studio recording from Devildriver that it is one more of this year’s top new hard rock and metal offerings.  That is exhibited from start to end in this 10-song (12 for those who have the album’s deluxe edition) record both in the album’s musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  ‘This Deception’ is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘My Night Sky’ serves to support that statement just as much as ‘This Deception.’  It will be discussed later.  The record’s title track, which comes late in the album’s run also supports that statement.  It is just one more of so many songs included in this record that could (and do) exhibit what makes this record such a strong new entry from Devildriver.  All things considered, Trust No One proves in the end to be a record that listeners can trust is one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal offerings.

Devildriver’s new album Trust No One is a record that listeners can trust is one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal offerings.  That is proven both through the album’s musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  ‘This Deception,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  In regards to the song’s musical arrangement, it is one of the album’s strongest compositions.  The song starts off with a slight brooding feel before launching into a full-on assault that harkens back to arrangements presented in the band’s earlier works.  Guitarist Neil Tiemann shows with his work in this work that despite his more mainstream roots, he is a perfect fit for the band.  Drummer Austin D’Amond is just as impressive behind the kit here in his ability to switch instantly between machine-gun fast beats and solid, pounding performance in the less lightning fast bars.  Front man Dez Fafara’s vocal talents cannot be ignored here either.  He roars with the power of a lion throughout the song.  It is that power that really serves to exhibit the emotion in the song’s lyrical content. Speaking of that content, the song’s lyrical content is just as important to note in this song as its musical arrangement.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘This Deception’ is just as important to note of the song as its musical arrangement. That is because it presents just as much power as the song’s musical arrangement.  That is evident as Fafara screams, “This deception, it cuts so deep/And your perception is cloudy and weak/To the ones departed, blame the ominous skies/Can’t you see the look in my eyes.”  This lead verse speaks volumes in every sense of the phrase.  The verse’s opening lines speak the loudest. This is someone feeling the emotional impact of realizing he or she has been lied to about something in particular for a very long time. This person says to others, “you don’t see what I see.”  That is just this critic’s take on these lines, of course.  The next two lines in the verse are just as intriguing.  He seems to hint at blaming a higher power for people dying.  At the same time, he comes across as asking others to acknowledge what his realization is doing to him.  Again that is just this critic’s take.  That is just part of what makes the song’s lyrical content so powerful.  While this opening verse exhibits its own power, it is the song’s chorus that really packs a punch.  Fafara sings in the song’s chorus, “The sight of your face/It brings me pause/And the sound of your voice/Just because/I thought you were dead/I wished you were dead/Gone to the sound of applause/The promises we keep/While all the others sleep/Vows to the taker/Now who’s nothing but a taker/Life is just another sin/It’s either you want out or in/Say your prayers to the setting sun/And go back to square one.”  This seems to hint that he is addressing someone very specific.  In fact in the chorus’ reprise, Fafara goes so far as to say, “Hear these words/And you’ll know who I’m after.”  It’s an interesting thought.  He goes on later in the song to note people who make “back-handed compliments” and fake smiles.  These are pretty damning statements to say the least.  When one puts the whole thing together, the song’s lyrical picture is one of someone who feels rather betrayed by someone else and is clearly addressing it, or so it would seem.  That would account for the powerful impact of the song’s musical arrangement, too.  Keeping all of this in mind, it becomes clear why ‘This Deception’ is one of TNO’s strongest songs and one of the best examples of why this record is one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  It is not the only song featured in this record that proves to be so strong, either.  ‘My Night Sky’ is another example of why TNO in whole stands out.

‘This Deception’ is one of the strongest offerings featured in Devildriver’s new album.  That is due to the impact of both its musical and lyrical content alone and collectively.  It is not the only song that stands out in this record.  ‘My Night Sky’ stands on its own merits.  It shows just as much as ‘This Deception’ why TNO stands out in this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.  Just as with ‘My Deception,’ this is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement.  The song’s musical arrangement is not the full-on aural assault that is presented in ‘This Deception.’  Rather it presents a certain duality.  The song’s arrangement actually features a some more brooding moments later in its nearly four and a half-minute run time that expertly contrast its more intense bars.  Those brooding moments heighten the intensity of the song’s arrangement even more because they leave listeners wondering what is about to happen.  Something intense does in fact happen, too.  It happens not only musically but lyrically, too.  Speaking of lyrics, the song’s lyrical content plays as much of a part in its intensity as its musical arrangement.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘My Night Sky’ is important in its own right in showing what makes the song an important addition to TNO.  That is because it serves to expertly highlight the song’s lyrical content.  By connection, the song’s lyrical content is just as important to the song by itself as it is with the song’s powerhouse musical arrangement. That is because of the statement that Fafara seems to make here.  He screams in the song’s chorus, “Born into bondage/Meant to scorch the sky/By any means/F***ing hustle through life/I’ve realized I’m not sorry anymore/You’ve poisoned the wine/And it’s my night sky/I was beat down by a slow drug/Over the embers and through the flood/I’m built for the kill (it’s my night sky).”  This comes across as another very defiant statement being spoken to someone in particular.  He comes across here as saying to that person, “I’m through being nice, I’m determined now.  You ruined so much and now I realize I’m built to get through everything.” Again, this is just this critic’s own take on these lines.  But it would seem to make sense considering that in the song’s lead verse, Fafara screams to that person, “Desperate in your sadness/So wear black cloth/Burning/Like a flame to a moth/We flicker the heart/And silence the sound/Burning/Put all your dreams down.”  One could easily argue, in considering all of this (along with the song’s final verse) that what Fafara has done here is extend that musical middle finger to whomever is being addressed, and done so with no remorse whatsoever.  When all of this is set against the song’s musical arrangement, the two elements join to show again why this song stands out just as much as ‘My Deception.’  They also serve to remind listeners that as impressive as it is, it still is not the last song that could be cited to show what makes TNO stand out.  The album’s title track stands out just as much as ‘My Night Sky’ and ‘This Deception.’

‘This Deception’ and ‘My Night Sky’ are both key compositions included in Devildriver’s new album.  Both songs show through their musical arrangements and their equally powerful lyrical content just why TNO proves to be one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  They are not the only songs included in this record that serve to support that statement, either. The album’s title track shows just as much what makes this record stand out as ‘This Deception’ and ‘My Night Sky.’  Just as with those songs, that is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement.  The most notable aspect of the song’s arrangement is its thrash elements.  The dual guitar attack of Mike Spreitzer and Neal Tiemann couples with Austin D’Amond’s precision time keeping and bassist Diego Ibarra’s low end for a composition that is pure thrash.  Fafara’s vocal fury puts the finishing touch on the song.  When it is joined with those elements, the composition in whole becomes a work that thrash purists will wholly appreciate.  It is just one element of the song that makes it stand out, too.

The musical arrangement that is presented within ‘Trust No One’ in itself makes this song yet another clear example of what makes the song (and album in whole) stand out.  That is because of its pure thrash approach.  As important as the song’s musical arrangement proves to be to its presentation, it is only part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note in this work as its musical arrangement.  Fafara screams in this song, “If threatened just know/I’ll respond in kind/Say the word/The word is blind/If threatened just know/I’ll respond in kind/Say the word/The word is attack/Say your lamentations/Set sail for hell or damnation/No honest words on your lips/Confronted/Think quick/I’ve used it/I’ve abused it/It’s abused me/It’s confused me/And consumed me/I’ve been destroyed by trust/My heart can’t erase it/Now I’m so f***ing wasted/I can taste it.”  From there he reiterates the statement established in the song’s lead verse, singing, “I’ve been destroyed by trust/Heard you say there’s no need for violence/As you slowly sickeningly walk away/Give my regards to the ones you call your angels.”  There is obviously a certain amount of tension expressed in this song, and it lives up to its title.  Who hasn’t felt like they can’t trust anyone anymore?  Exactly.  Considering that, the frustration voiced by Fafarara here is powerful to say the least.  When the song’s musical arrangement is added to its equally powerful lyrical content, the combination of the two makes this song one of the album’s most impressive works.  It works with ‘This Deception,’ ‘My Night Sky’ and the rest of the album’s songs to make the album in whole one of the year’s top new hard rock and metal offerings.

Devildriver’s new album Trust No One is one of 2016’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  That is due to the power exhibited in both the album’s musical arrangements and its equally powerful lyrical content.  ‘This Deception,’ ‘My Night Sky’ and ‘Trust No One’ are all examples of that musical and lyrical power.  Each of the album’s other featured compositions could just as easily be cited in exhibiting what makes Trust No One such a strong hard rock and metal offering.  All things considered this record is another impressive effort from Devildriver and one more of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Trust No One is available online now along with all of Devildriver’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.devildriver.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/devildriver

 

 

 

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.

Alter Bridge Announces Title, Release Date For New LP

Courtesy: Caroline Records/Napalm Records

Courtesy: Caroline Records/Napalm Records

Alter Bridge has a new album on the way this fall.

The Last Hero will be released Friday, October 7th in stores and online.  Pre-orders for the album are open now via iTunes, Amazon, and GooglePlay.  The album can be ordered in a number of bundle packages online via Alter Bridge’s online store.  Those that pre-order the album now will get the album’s lead single ‘Show Me A Leader’ instantly.  For everyone else, the band has debuted the song’s lyric video, which can be viewed online now here.  The song is also streaming online via Spotify.  The song originally premiered Tuesday on Sirius/XMs Octane.  Front man Myles Kennedy discussed the song in a recent interview noting its socially conscious message.  “Lyrically, it reflects the frustrations that a lot of people are feeling with the current state of the world,” he said.  “The world is looking for trustworthy effective leadership and not this undignified dog and pony show that’s really made a mockery of our system.”  Guitarist Mark Tremonti expanded on the song, noting in short its creation.  “It’s indicative of our process,” he said.  “Myles had this guitar intro that I loved, and I had the chorus. We put them together. The words call out for a proper leader.”

The Last Hero is the band’s fifth full-length studio recording.  It will be released via Caroline Records in the United States and Canada and via Napalm Records throughout the rest of the world.  It was produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette (Slash, Tremonti, Trivium, etc.).  Its full track-listing is noted below.

 

                   The Last Hero Track Listing

 

1)     Show Me A Leader

2)     The Writing On The Wall

3)     The Other Side

4)     My Champion

5)     Poison In Your Veins

6)     Cradle To The Grave

7)     Losing Patience

8)     This Side Of Fate

9)     You Will Be Remembered

10)   Crows On A Wire

11)   Twilight

12)   Island Of Fools

13)   The Last Hero

 

A tour in support of The Last Hero has been announced along with the premiere of the band’s new single.  The tour launches September 22n in Destin, Florida and includes performances in San Antonio, Texas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lincoln, Nebraska, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee among others.  Those dates are in addition to the band’s current live schedule which includes a performance tonight in Detroit, Michigan.  The band’s full tour schedule is noted below.

 


2016 Tour Dates

 

DATE CITY, STATE VENUE
Jul 26th * Detroit, MI DTE Energy Amphitheater
Jul 27th * Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
Jul 29th * Scranton, PA The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
Jul 30th * Wantagh, NY Nikon at Jones Beach
Jul 31st * Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center
Aug 2nd * Virginia Beach, VA Farm Bureau Live
Aug 4th * Gilford, NH Bank of NH Pavilion
Aug 6th Bangor, ME Rise Above Festival
Aug 7th Montreal, QC Heavy MTL Festival
Aug 8th * Toronto, ON Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Aug 11th * Oklahoma City, OK Zoo Amphitheatre
Aug 12th * Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Amphitheater
Aug 13th * Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Aug 15th * Denver, CO Red Rocks Amphitheater
Aug 17th * Albuquerque, NM Isleta Amphitheater
Aug 19th * Concord, CA Concord Pavilion
Aug 21st Seattle, WA Pain In The Grass – White River Amphitheater
Aug 23rd # Portland, OR Roseland Theater
Aug 24th * Post Falls, ID Greyhound Park
Sep 22nd # Destin, FL Club LA
Sep 24th Houston, TX Houston Open Air Festival
Sep 25th # San Antonio, TX Aztec Theater
Sep 28th # Minneapolis, MN Skyway Theatre
Sep 29th # Lincoln, NE Bourbon Theatre
Oct 1st Janesville, WI Sonic Boom
Oct 2nd Louisville, KY Louder Than Life
Oct 4th # Charlotte, NC Fillmore
Oct 5th # Nashville, TN War Memorial Auditorium
Oct 8th Tulsa, OK Tulsa State Fair – Oklahoma Stage

 

 

* playing with Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, Saint Asonia

# Headline show

 

More information on Alter Bridge’s new album, tour and more is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.alterbridge.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/alterbridge

 

 

 

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.