Times Of Pride And Peril Is Another Welcome Return For Holy Grail

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Holy Grail. Has. Returned. Three years after it became one of the metal community’s biggest names with its sophomore album Ride The Void, the Los Angeles-based quintet has returned with an album in Times of Pride and Peril that builds even more on the fame and respect earned through its previous recording. The ten-track album does so by taking the old school, metal sound established on Ride The Void and expanded on it, including a more modern hard rock sound to its body. The combination of those two sounds here makes Times of Pride and Peril not just a solid follow-up to Holy Grail’s breakout sophomore album but also an album that is undeniably one of 2016’s top new hard rock and metal albums. Times of Pride and Peril is currently slated to be released in stores and online on Friday, February 12th.

Holy Grail’s latest full-length studio recording is a solid follow-up to its 2013 breakout sophomore album Ride The Void. It is an album that audiences will agree in hearing its ten total tracks that it is unquestionably one of 2016’s top new hard rock and metal albums. That is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Crystal King.’ This song shows the band–James-Paul Luna (vocals), Eli Santana (lead guitar), Alex Lee (lead guitar), Tyler Meahl (drums), and Blake Mount (bass)–picking right back up where it left off with Ride The Void. The band opens the song with a short, building crescendo before launching full force into the song with Santana, Lee, Meahl, and Mount leading the way. The old school speed metal sound established by the band in this song once again harkens back to the heyday of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and others of that ilk with its dual guitar attack and equally expert time keeping by Meahl. When Luna joins in, his razor-sharp vocal delivery instantly conjures thoughts of legendary Judas Priest front man Rob Halford and Fozzy front man Chris Jericho. In other words Luna’s vocals make him one of metal’s next big true singers if not one of its current biggest. The song’s lyrical content sits against that powerhouse musical content to make clear why ‘Crystal King’ was the perfect choice to open Holy Grail’s new album and why it is also a prime example of just what audiences have to look forward to in this new record. Luna sings here, “It’s just another day out on the battlefield/Proclaiming victory/We conquer all/We’re on the top now/It’s time to strike/We must defend the crown/At any given price/Our dominion never ends/It keeps rolling on and on/And together we’ll ascend/To heights of grandeur/Majesty abound/The taste of glory/Is holier than thou/A heart of valor/Frees a mind of doubt/But if you always win the fight/Do you know wrong from right?” This plays right into the overlaying topic of the band’s new album. The topic in question is that of the rise and fall of an empire. That is not necessarily referencing one empire but different ones. That is especially clear as Luna sings, “The taste of glory/Is holier than thou/A heart of valor/Frees a mind of doubt/But if you always win the fight/Do you know wrong from right?” This comes across as Luna commenting on nations that patrol the world and play world police. Those nations that control everything around the world militarily tend to think that they are in the right. This happens even when there might be some shades of grey in the ethics or moral ground of their actions. This can be argued even more strongly as Luna sings in the song’s second verse, “We got it/We made it/We’ll overthrow/Once we’ve accepted/All the ones that died/We’ll repay the mercy when the enemy’s been crucified.” It is a very telling verse. It comes across as a commentary about brutality begetting brutality–accepting the death of others for the “greater good” and the violence aimed at others in the process. It furthers that discussion on the blind, perhaps clouded mindset of those that have been made to believe their actions are for the good of a whole people. It is a really thought-provoking concept and in turn quite the way to open the band’s new album. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via YouTube as the band has just premiered its lyric video online. It can be viewed online via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVn4ENCIy1w.

‘Crystal King’ is a powerful first statement from Holy Grail in its return to the top of the mountain. It is not the only powerful, noteworthy statement from the band either. ‘No More Heroes,’ which is another of the album’s singles, is another powerful, hard-hitting addition to Times of Pride and Peril (TOPAP as it will henceforth be known here). Luna noted of this song in a recent interview that it “is about the evils of tyranny and self-will, where only strength in numbers can persevere.” To be more precise he noted that the concept behind that song is that it is a commentary about the events going on around the world today as a result of tyranny. “Conspiracy or not, heavy s*** is going down in the world, he said, “and we can’t survive battling it alone.” That discussion is illustrated through the song’s lyrical content in which Luna sings, “We’ve reached the point where domination is the law/We’re on the brink of global darkness/No life is worthy/But a pawn in our noble cause/Stomp out the feeble/And the worthless.” While these words sound familiar, it should. It was the view of the brainwashed men who fought for the Nazis in WWII and even now today of those that take innocent lives in the name of terrorism. Again, it illustrates exactly what Luna was saying in his discussion. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “A savage feast upon the weak at any cost/No sign of mercy for the masses/How about the dignity you had so long ago/Is blood upon your hands as gracious?” The message about the familiar, distressing state of the world in this song is in itself an important part of the song’s whole. That content, set against the song’s power metal musical content, makes the song in whole yet another impressive addition to the album and equally impressive example of what audiences have to look forward to in Holy Grail’s new album. Audiences can hear this song for themselves online now at http://noisey.vice.com/blog/holy-grail-heroes-premiere.

Both ‘Crystal King’ and ‘No More Heroes’ are both key examples of just how much Holy Grail has to offer audiences in its third full-length studio recording. That is thanks to the mix of the songs’ musical and lyrical content. Both songs continue to exhibit the NWOBHM influence on the band in terms of their musical content. In regards to their lyrical content, both equally powerful yet differing statements about what has and continues to happen to the world militarily and politically. While this all works collectively to make both songs important parts of the album’s whole, both songs are hardly the only examples of what audiences have to look forward to in this record. ‘Those Who Will Remain’ is yet another important example of what makes Holy Grail’s new album a welcome return from the band. What makes this song stand out among the album’s songs is that it boasts more of a modern rock sound than most of its counterparts. If one were listening to this song without knowing it was Holy Grail, one would almost think that one was listening to Fozzy. The similarities are that close between the two bands here. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. It shows that the band has branched out musically in this record. And it isn’t the only song that exhibits that either. That is a story for another time, however. Staying on this song, its musical content is just one part of what makes it stand out so strongly. Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical content. Luna seems to sing about self-determination here as he sings, “how do you choose between life and suicide/I’ll try this anyway/And I couldn’t cope…Ready to fight/I will accept my fate/I’ve suffered enough/It’s time to change/Dark in the night/In our eternal flame/The freedom is yours/All the same/To those who will remain.” He goe on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Take it or leave it/The enemy’s nearing/Hungry to feed on the weak and the weary/Marching in stride is the secret to survive/Rise to the top with a fist full of fury…Carry the torch/Just to keep yourself alive.” Everything taken int consideration here, the song in whole could be interpreted as Luna singing about not giving up in life, no matter the difficulties that one faces, be they physical or emotional. Saying that he would rather “walk the maze than die alone” and that “I’ve suffered enough/It’s time to change” support that argument. Of course that is just this critic’s own interpretation. It could, as always, be completely incorrect. So it should not be taken as the only interpretation of the song’s lyrical content. Right or wrong, it plays against the song’s equally powerful musical content and in turn makes the song in whole one more clear example of just what makes TOPAP such a welcome return for Holy Grail and also for the metal and hard rock community in whole. Together with ‘Crystal King,’ ‘No More Heroes’ and the rest of the songs not directly noted here, the whole of TOPAP shows in the end to be a record that is not just a welcome return for the band and its audiences but also a record that is easily one more of this year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Holy Grail’s latest full-length album is a welcome return both for the band and for its audiences. That is exhibited from the album’s opener ‘Crystal King’ right to its final number ‘Black Lotus.’ From beginning to end the mix of old school heavy metal and modern hard rock couples with lyrics that will get any listener thinking to make a record that will easily become a favorite of any true metal head. It will be available Friday, February 12th in stores and online. It can be pre-ordered online now via iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s official Bandcamp page. It is also available in a series of limited edition vinyl options. Those options include: Black, Limited-Edition Orange, and Limited-Edition Marble variants. Each vinyl copy of Times of Pride and Peril comes in a gatefold package that includes a color poster/lyric insert and download card. The band will hit the road next month in support of TOPAP beginning February 11th in San Antonio, TX. The forty-date-plus tour also includes a performance at The Milestone in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday, February 23rd. The band’s current tour schedule is listed in whole below.

 

2/11 San Antonio, TX – Fitzgerald’s ^
2/12 Houston, TX – Scout Bar ^
2/13 Dallas, TX – Trees ^
2/14 Little Rock, AR – Juanita’s ^
2/16 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade ^
2/17 Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits ^
2/18 Orlando, FL – Backbooth ^
2/19 St. Petersburg, FL – The State Theatre ^
2/20 Ocala, FL – O’Malley’s Alley
2/22 Greenville, SC – Gottrocks
2/23 Charlotte, NC – Milestone #
2/24 Virginia Beach, VA – Shakas #
2/25 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie #
2/26 Boston, MA – Once Ballroom #
2/27 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus #
2/29 Burlington, VT – Nectars #
3/1 Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle #
3/2 Montreal, QC – Foufounes Electriques #
3/3 Toronto, ON – Hard Luck #
3/4 Detroit, MI – Berserker Fest #
3/5 Chicago, IL – Reggies #
3/6 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon #
3/7 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock #
3/8 Fargo, ND – The Aquarium #
3/9 Winnipeg, MB – The Windsor Hotel #
3/11 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina #
3/12 Edmonton, AB – Brixx #
3/13 Calgary, AB – Palomino #
3/14 Kamloops, BC – The Office #
3/16 Vancouver, BC – The Biltmore #
3/17 Seattle, WA – El Corazon #
3/18 Spokane, WA – The Pin #
3/19 Portland, OR – Panic Room #
3/20 Bend, OR – Volcanic Theatre Pub #
3/22 Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst #
3/23 San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside #
3/24 Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room #
3/25 San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick #
3/26 Phoenix, AZ – Pub Rock #
3/28 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Bar #
3/29 Denver, CO – Marquis Theater #
3/30 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room #
4/1 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter #
4/2 Newport, KY – Southgate House #

^ with Marty Friedman
# with Black Tusk

More information on Holy Grail’s upcoming album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://www.holygrailofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/holygrailband

 

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The Dagger Reveals Cover Art, Track Listing For Debut Album

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Swedish metal act The Dagger recently signed a deal with Century Media Records. The band’s self-titled debut album is slated to be released June 30th in Europe and July 22nd in North America. The album will be released via Century Media Records both overseas and in North America.

In anticipation of the upcoming release, the band has released the cover art for its album as well as the video for its lead single, titled ‘Ahead of You All.’ The song conjures thoughts of Judas Priest and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal during the 1980s. Audiences can hear the song now online via YouTube at YouTube: http://youtu.be/wLFKpWMjVec and via SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/centurymedia/the-dagger-ahead-of-you-all.

The Dagger also included a song titled ‘Dark Cloud’ as the closer for its upcoming self-titled debut. Audiences can hear an early version of that song now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imbk-v_1myE. That early version was originally released on a 7” through High Roller Records. The album’s complete track listing is noted below.

The Dagger track-listing:
1. Ahead Of You All
2. Call Of 9
3. Ballad Of An Old Man
4. Skygazer
5. Electric Dawn
6. 1978
7. Dogs Of Warning
8. Nocturnal Triumph
9. Inside The Monolithic Dome
10. Dark Cloud

The Dagger is currently scheduled to perform live September 18th and 19th in Stockholm Sweden as part of Close-Up Magazine’s Close-Up Baten Festival.

Jani Kataja leads The Dagger on vocals. He is joined by David Blomqvist (guitar), Tobias Cristiansson (bass), and Fred Estby (drums). More information on The Dagger, its upcoming self-titled album and eventual tour news is available online at http://www.facebook.com/daggerofficial. 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.

Metal Blade Strikes Gold Again With Brit Rockers’ New Album

COurtesy: Metal blade Records/Rise Above Records

We are currently living in the twenty-first century.  But don’t tell that to the British hard rock band Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell.  This British three-piece takes listeners back to the days of Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, and so many others from rock’s Golden Era.  From the opening moments of Mark of The beast, audiences know that there is something special about this band. 

What’s really intriguing about “Don’t Hear It, Fear It” is that while the songs on this album do have some lyrical content, it’s obvious that much more emphasis was placed on the music.  There is nothing wrong at all with this.  The emphasis on the album’s musical side is what makes the music that enjoyable for listeners.  The album’s opener, ‘Mark of The Beast’ is solid proof of that.  Drummer Bill Darlington’s playing on this song is right up there with Bonzo himself, the great John Bonham.  He echoes Bonham’s playing both stylistically and sound-wise thanks to the work of producer and mixer Drew Mudd and Chris Fielding along with Ed Turner.  Even vocalist/guitarist Johnny Gorilla seems to channel Tommy Iommi and Jimmy Page all at the same time.  The two together, along with vocalist Louis Wiggett’s vocals make this a solid opener for this album.

The band channels other classic rock stylings on ‘iDeath.’  This is another excellently rounded hard rock song that any true purist metal head will love.  Again, vocalist/guitarist Johnny Gorilla and drummer Bill Darlington take center stage with their talents on this semi-Motorhead style song.  The slower, sludge rock vibe from the song is a drastic change from so many of today’s hard rock acts with their down tuned crunching guitars and cookie monster style growls.  It’s only one more highlight that’s offered throughout the course of this almost hour long record.  Yes, it’s a short record.  But it’s a good record.  In a time when so much modern metal is dominating playlists everywhere, this is a record that has turned out to be another surprise success and another hit from Metal Blade Records in 2012 along with the likes of Horisont and Gypsyhawk.

“Don’t Hear It, Fear It” is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via Metal Blade’s website at http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords/band/admiral-sir-cloudesley-shovell.

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Metal Blade hits a bulls eye with Gentleman’s Pistols debut re-issue

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records/Rise Above Records

Metal Blade records has been known in the music community as the leader in metal for three decades.  But in recent years, the label has started to branch out, including more mainstream acts the likes of King’s X, Horisont, and others.  Now, Metal Blade has hit the bull’s eye yet again with the re-issue of Brit rockers Gentleman’s Pistols debut self-titled record.

The inclusion of Gentleman’s Pistols to the label’s roster is yet more proof of what makes Metal Blade still the leader in the hard rock and metal community.  GP’s debut record is one of those no nonsense, straight forward, balls-to-the-walls hard rock records that will leave listeners breathless by the time it ends.  Of the album’s ten tracks, only a few break the three minute mark.  One of those few songs is the bluesy ‘Heavy Petting.’  Singer/guitarist James Atkinson sings on this song, “Heavy Petting in the park/Heavy petting in the zoo/Heavy petting in the dark/Heavy petting with you/Cause you’re my woman/yes you are.”  It’s pretty obvious what he’s singing about here.  The Black Sabbath-esque bass in this song makes it something really amazing to hear.

‘Heavy Petting’ is one of very few slower songs on the band’s self-titled debut.  Fans of the band’s more up-tempo, adrenaline drenched songs get plenty of that in the Clutch-esque opener ‘Just a Fraction’, ‘Widow Maker’, and ‘Lying & Fooling.’  There’s even a touch of old school punk rock in ‘Vivid Wonder’ and ‘Out of The Eye.’  ‘Mistress Mistrust’ stands out on its own merits, too with its neo-classic rock (contradiction in terms there, huh?) vibe. 

Gentleman’s Pistols now have two records on the market.  The band’s second album bears some similarity to its self-titled debut.  And while it’s just as good as the band’s debut, fans can only say thank you to Metal Blade Records for re-issuing this record.  Very rarely does a band have such a positive impact on its debut, and follow that up with an equally impressive sophomore effort.  The short and simple of this re-issue is that for fans who have never heard the work of Gentleman’s Pistols, this record is a flat ten on a scale of one to ten.  In an era when so much rock is either dark, moody stuff laced with cookie monster growls, a band such as this is a welcome change of pace.  It goes back to the golden days of rock and roll.  What’s more, it proves even more why Metal Blade Records is the leader in hard rock and metal today.

The band’s album is available now.  It can be bought in stores and online at http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords/band/gentlemans-pistols.  Fans can get the latest news and more from Gentleman’s Pistols online at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gentlemans-Pistols/340601796105, http://www.myspace.com/gentlemanspistols, http://twitter.com/#!/gentspistols and http://gentlemanspistols.com.

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