Amon Amarth Conquers Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New Hard Rock & Metal Albums List

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The hard rock and metal community have collectively become a rather crowded field this year in terms of new albums.  It has made extremely difficult naming the year’s top new hard rock and metal records.  There have been that many outstanding records.  Metallica’s first album in eight years, HardwiredTo SelfDestruct is just one of the albums that has more than proven deserving of being on that list.  The same can be said of Amon Amarth’s latest offering, Jomsviking.  It is a rarity for the band, being a concept record.  The concept behind the record more than works.  And its musical arrangements work just as well.  On another note Prong, with its latest offering X No Absolutes has proven through its overall content (and sales) that it is another success for the band—and more specifically founder Tommy Victor, the band’s only original member.  So no doubt it belongs on the list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums, too as do so many others.  It was not easy for this critic to assemble this year’s list of new hard rock and metal albums considering how many outstanding albums were released in that collective field.  But a decision had to be made.  That decision is presented below.

As a reminder, the list, as with each of Phil’s Picks year-ender lists, presents Phil’s Picks Top 10 picks for the year’s best plus five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  Honorable mention is not mean in a negative fashion by any means.  They were each deserving of being named to the year’s best.  It was just that tough assembling a list of the year’s best, so the final list ended as presented here.  Without any further ado, here is the Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Hard Rock and Metal Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW HARD ROCK/METAL ALBUMS

 

  1. Amon AmarthJomsviking

 

  1. MetallicaHardwiredTo SelfDestruct

 

  1. All Hail The YetiScreams From A Black Wilderness

 

  1. NonpointThe Poison Red

 

  1. SpellcasterNight Hides The World

 

  1. WovenwarHonor is Dead

 

  1. ArtilleryPunishment By Perception

 

  1. ProngXNo Absolutes

 

  1. AnthraxFor All Kings

 

  1. DestrageA Means To No End

 

  1. WhitechapelMark of the Blade

 

  1. DevildriverTrust No One

 

  1. Oni – Ironshore

 

  1. Primal FearRulebreaker

 

  1. HatebreedThe Concrete Confesional

 

 

 

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Nonpoint’s New LP Is One Of Its Best Efforts Yet

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Nonpoint nation, rejoice.  Your favorite band (and a personal favorite of this critic) is back.  The band recently released its latest album The Poison Red via Spinefarm Records. The band’s tenth full-length studio offering, this record is one of the band’s best records to date.  That is due in large part to the obvious growth exhibited in the album’s musical arrangements.  The band has taken the heaviness for which it has come to be known throughout the years and incorporated it into fourteen songs that while stylistically similar to the band’s older works, still stand separate from those songs.  The album’s opener and lead single ‘Generation Idiot is one of the songs that serves to exemplify this.  Chasing White Rabbits’ serves to exemplify it just as much as does the defiant ‘Radio Chorus.’  All three songs show in their own right the musical and lyrical originality that has kept Nonpoint so respected for so long.  That is not to discount any of the album’s other offerings.  They do much the same as the songs more directly noted here.  All things considered The Poison Red proves to be one of Nonpoint’s best efforts to date.

Nonpoint’s latest full-length studio recording The Poison Red is one of the bands best efforts to date.  That is due to the fact that once again the band has taken its trademark heaviness and incorporated it into a whole new group of songs that stand on their own merits apart from the band’s previous albums.  The album’s opener and lead single ‘Generation Idiot’ is one example of this.  In terms of its musical arrangement it is most reminiscent (at least to this critic) to the songs featured in the band’s 2007 album Vengeance with its heavy, crunching metalcore style guitar line and equally sharp vocal delivery from front man Elias Soriano.  Thankfully, though it doesn’t just repeat any of those songs.  Rather, it just sounds like it would fit perfectly into that album. While the song’s musical arrangement expertly balances the band’s familiar heaviness with its own original approach, it is just one part of what makes the stand out.  The song’s lyrical content makes the song stand out just as much as its musical arrangement.  The song’s lyrical content is a social commentary centered on the current state of the world, or at least it comes across in such fashion.  That can be inferred as Soriano sings, “Once upon a time people talked to people/People didn’t text/What’s coming next/Just fod and sex/Sleep, repeat/Food and sex/Follow me/3 simple steps/You want it so damn easy/Want it handed to you on a golden plate/While the state of the world goes Watergate/And generation idiot accumulates.”  That is just a glance of what makes the song lyrically come across as a commentary.  The song’s opening verse makes that even clearer as Soriano sings, “Crossing stars driving expensive cars/Planning out own parades/Champagne wishes, golden dishes/People lining up just to scream your name/People living up to a standard made/People giving up just to give the blame/To the same damn people that are giving up/I say the same to people that are living up/It’s safe to say I’m not giving it a second thought/Just to waste it on a pivotal moment that I’m giving up.”  He goes on in the verse’s final line, singing “All back to back and then I’m packing up/Not looking for a handout/Gonna be out the door/And that’s how it’s gonna pan out.”  Every line comes across as conveying a message about how self-centered the current generation has become.  That is just this critic’s own take on these lines.  So it is not meant to be taken as gospel.  Regardless, the possibility of that message being there, coupled with the song’s musical arrangement shows clearly why the song stands out in whole.  In turn, it serves in part to show why the album in whole stands out, too.  It is just one of the songs that shows why The Poison Red stands out.  ‘Chasing White Rabbits’ is another example of what makes The Poison Red stand out.

‘Generation Idiot’ is a clear example of what makes The Poison Red stand out.  That is due to the combination of the song’s original musical arrangement and the seeming social commentary presented in the song’s lyrical content.  While they serve to make the song stand on its own merits, it is just one of the songs, in whole, that serves to make The Poison Red stand out.  ‘Chasing White Rabbits’ is another one of the album’s most standout compositions.  The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Chasing White Rabbits’ is very much unlike anything that the band has ever composed before.  That is because while it boasts the band’s familiar heaviness once again, the sharp edge for which the band has come to be known in its arrangements has been traded in here for a deeper, more melody-driven arrangement.  The song’s lyrical content is just as ear-catching as its musical arrangement.  In the song’s second verse, Soriano makes a powerful statement as he sings, “Why do we hassle with their castles/Their robes and golden tassels/When a hero isn’t measured by/The treasures that they hold/the heart is where we start/And courage is the end/A champion could be anyone/Enemy or friend.”  Soriano goes on to make a slew of Alice in Wonderland references including references to the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire cat, and even the caterpillar.  It is an interesting verse that is certain to leave listeners talking.  When this is all set against the song’s lead verse and its chorus, the song’s lyrical content comes across to this critic as sending the message that not everything in life is always as it seems good or bad.  This, again, is just this critic’s own take on the song’s lyrical content and should not be considered the only explanation.  That aside, the ability of the song’s deep lyrical content to keep listeners thinking and talking, and the depth of the song’s musical arrangement work together to show why it stands out just as much as ‘Generation Idiot.’  The two songs together show even more clearly why The Poison Red is, again, one of Nonpoint’s best efforts to date.  They are not the only songs that serve to show why the record stands out either.  ‘Radio Chorus’ is one more example of what makes The Poison Red stand out.

‘Generation Idiot’ and ‘Chasing White Rabbits’ are both clear examples of what makes The Poison Red stand out as one of Nonpoint’s best albums yet.  That is due to the combination of the songs’ musical arrangements and their lyrical content.  Both elements will leave listeners thinking and talking long after they end.  They are not the only songs included in the album’s body that will do this.  ‘Radio Chorus’ with its familiar sharp-edged guitar line and equally sharp vocal delivery from Soriano takes listeners all the way back through the band’s extensive catalogue.  Yet at the same time, it still stands on its own merits.  The song’s lyrical content boasts just as much of a shard edge as its musical arrangement with its clearly defiant message.  Soriano sings here, “This is what I am/Who I be/What I do and what I see/Is a person who sold their soul/Well that’s not me/Only thing I’m selling is what you see/This is going to be the type of conversation that person to person will personally affect you/Make impressions impossible to forget about/Get past/Or get us closer to a break through/Mask any emotions/Through motions of regretting you/Because all of the words/I never got to spit out.”  Soriano goes on in the same fashion, delivering his verbal attack to all of the naysayers out there and critics.  It is a powerful statement complimented quite well by an equally powerful musical arrangement.  When both elements are coupled together, the end result is a composition that is one of the album’s highest points.  When it is set against the rest of the album’s offerings, they come together to remind listeners, again, why The Poison Red is one of the band’s best records to date.

The Poison Red is one of Nonpoint’s best records to date, hands down.  That is due to the combination of the lyrical depth presented in each of the album’s featured songs and the balance of old and new in the songs’ musical arrangements.  Whether through the songs directly noted here or any of the album’s other offerings, the fact remains throughout that this record is one of Nonpoint’s best albums to date if not its best.  It is available now in stores and online, and at the band’s live shows.  More information on The Poison Red is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.nonpoint.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nonpoint

 

 

 

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Through Fire Announces New Live Dates

Photo Credit: Christopher Tierney

Photo Credit: Christopher Tierney

Through Fire has announced a new slate of live dates.

The up and coming hard rock act announced this week that it will join Sick Puppies on tour this fall beginning September 18th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The 11-date run is in support of the band’s latest release Breathe and will follow its upcoming tour with Nonpoint.  That tour launches next Saturday, July 30th in South Bend, Indiana and runs through August 10th in Newport, Minnesota.  Through Fire’s current tour schedule is noted below.

 

Upcoming shows:

(with Nonpoint July 30-August 10)

Jul 30 South Bend IN Club Fever

Jul 31 Springfield IL Boondocks

Aug 02 Waterloo IA Spicolis

Aug 03 Merriam KS Aftershock

Aug 04 Evansville IN KC’s B&G

Aug 05 Flint MI Machine Shop

Aug 06 Arlington Heights Il Home Bar

Aug 07 Columbia MO Blue Note

Aug 09 Des Moines IA Woolys

Aug 10 Newport MN Opinion Brewing

(with Sick Puppies Sept 18-Oct 5)

Sep 18 Rex Theater Pittsburgh, PA

Sep 19 A&R Music bar Columbus, OH

Sep 21 Druid City Music Hall Tuscaloosa, AL

Sep 22 Masquerade Atlanta, GA

Sep 25 Trees Dallas, TX

Sep 26 Granada Theater Lawrence, KS

Sep 27 The District Sioux Falls, SD

Sep 29 Wooly’s Des Moines, IA

Sep 30 Pop’s Nightclub Saint Louis, MO

Oct 03 Route 20 Outhouse Racine, WI

Oct 05 District Rockford, IL

 

Courtesy: Sumerian Records

Courtesy: Sumerian Records

Breathe was released Friday, July 1st via Sumerian Records.  It debuted at #4 on Billboard’s Top New Artist Chart.  The album’s lead single ‘Stronger’ hit the top spot on iTunes and on Sirius XM’s Octane.  Audiences can see the video for ‘Stronger’ online now here.  More information on Through Fire’s new tour schedule is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://throughfiremusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tfiremusic

 

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Romantic Rebel Added To Smile Empty Soul’s “Shapeshifter Tour 2016” LIneup

Courtesy: O'Donnell Media Group

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Romantic Rebel is headed back out on the road.

The band announced Monday that it will join Smile Empty Soul on the road this summer for the band’s “Shapeshifter Tour 2016.”  The tour launches this Friday, July 15th in St. Louis, MO.  It will share time on stage as support for Smile Empty Soul alongside The Everyday Losers, Shallow Side, and Beitthemeans on the tour.  Romantic Rebel’s upcoming live dates are in support of its upcoming EP Begin Again.  The band announced Monday that fans who come out to its live shows will be able to pick up Begin Again before its official release date, which has not yet been announced.

Singer KT Paige recently sat down to discuss the EP and what it means not just to her but to the band in whole.  She noted in her discussion the work put into the songs not only by herself but also by guitarist Alex Vincent, who co-wrote the record, and by producer Johnny K (Disturbed, Pop Evil, Finger Eleven, Sevendust, 3 Doors Down, Megadeth, Machine Head, Nonpoint, etc.), who helmed the EP and is also working with the band on its upcoming as yet untitled sophomore album.  “This EP is very special to us,” she said.  “Alex and I wrote these songs from the heart; about past experiences and struggles.  That said, we were very attached to them and didn’t want to see them change.  Johnny, being the multi-talented producer that he is, helped us take the songs we thought couldn’t get any better to a whole new level.  It’s amazing how a simple change in melody can make me feel even more emotional about a song than I had felt previously.”

While waiting for Romantic Rebel’s new EP to be released audiences can purchase the EP’s lead single ‘Too Far’ now online via iTunes.  The single’s companion video is currently streaming on the band’s official YouTube channel now.  More information on Romantic Rebel’s latest tour schedule is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.RomanticRebelBand.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/rr_the_band

 

 

 

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Nonpoint Premieres New Single; Announces Upcoming Tour Dates

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

The wait is almost over, Nonpoint fans.

Nonpoint will release its new album The Poison Red via Spinefarm Records. In anticipation of the album’s release, the band has premiered the album’s lead single ‘Generation Idiot.’  Audiences can hear the song, which harkens back to its 2000 debut album Statement  in terms of its musical arrangement, is streaming online now via Loudwire.  The song’s lyrical content tackles internet trolls and fake friends, noting in whole the power of communication and connection, including music.  In discussing the album in whole front man Elias Soriano noted that the song itself is just one of many deep stories told through the album.  “This record tells a lot of stories,” he said.  “Going from guts to glory. Chasing impossible dreams down the rabbit hole. Harsh and honest words with consequences attached. Uncovered rules for the weak, made by the wicked and heartless.  Recalling fight or flight moments with a deep breath. And it all starts with a warning to all the world’s generations past, present and future to look up, look forward and live their lives loose from social media shackles, online bullying, the devaluation of art and music, and to not be absorbed by the dramatic, megalomaniacal side of politics.  Life is right outside of your phone and newsfeed. Go live it and play this record while you do. It’ll all start to make sense.”
Fans can pre-order the band’s new album now online here.  The album’s full track listing is noted below.
THE POISON RED TRACK LISTING:
1. “Generation Idiot”
2. “Foaming At the Mouth”
3. “Bottled Up Killer Bees”
4. “Rabbit Hole”
5. “Chasing White Rabbits”
6. “Standing In the Flesh”
7. “Divided.. Conquer Them”
8. “Radio Chorus”
9. “Spanish Radio Hour”
10. “El Diablo”
11. “No Running Allowed”
12. “Promises”
13. “Be Enough”
14. “My Last Dying Breath”
Nonpoint will hit the road this summer in support of The Poison Red beginning July 23rd in Sharon, PA.  It also will perform alongside In This Moment as it promotes its new record.  The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.
TOUR DATES:
7/23: Sharon, PA | Quaker Steak and Lube
8/5: Sioux City, IA | Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

WITH IN THIS MOMENT:
8/12: Sturgis, SD | Iron Horse Saloon
8/13: Lincoln, NE | Bourbon Theater
8/14: Tulsa, OK | The Brady Theater
8/16: Memphis, TN | Minglewood Hall
8/17: Nashville, TN | Cannery Ballroom
8/19: Columbus, OH | Express Live
8/20: Fort Wayne, IN | Pierre’s Entertainment Center
More information on The Poison Red is available online now along with all of the latest updates on the band’s tour and news at:
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Hell or Highwater Announces New Record Deal; New Album On The Way

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Search & Destroy Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Search & Destroy Records

There’s good news for Hell or Highwater and its fans.

Three years after the release of its debut album Begin Again (Pavement Entertainment) the band has signed with Search & Destroy/Spinefarm Records. The new deal means that the band’s sophomore album Vista will be released this year via Search & Destroy/Spinefarm. Audiences can check out a video announcing the band’s new deal online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn-wPiJqWT8&index=1&list=PLfF_OpPMyx7Zsk3BAlznsfbgXSsO38oyw.

 

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Search & Destroy Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Search & Destroy Records

 

The band’s addition to the Spinefarm/Search & Destroy family comes as little surprise as front man Brandon Saller’s other band Atreyu is also a member of the Spinefarm/Search & Destroy roster. It is just one of the veteran acts that is part of the Spinefarm roster, too. Fellow veterans Nonpoint, Venom, and Anti-Flag are all part of the Spinefarm family as are up-and-coming acts such as Royal Thunder, Santa Cruz, and Ember Falls among others.

Saller recently discussed the Spinefarm/Search & Destroy roster in discussing signing with Spinefarm/Search & Destroy. “We’re so incredibly excited to be a part of the Spinefarm/Search & Destroy family,” he said. He went on to note the band’s anticipation for the release in the discussion saying, “We’ve been crafting this album for two years and can’t wait to share it with the world.”

Hell or Highwater’s new deal and album have been a long time coming. Ever since the release of its debut album more than three years ago the band has seen lineup changes, van wrecks, and a number of other challenges. And while audiences wait for the band’s long-awaited new album they can check out the video for the band’s new song I’ll Be Waiting’ via the band’s official website at http://www.hellorhighwaterofficial.com/.

 

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Search & Destroy Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Search & Destroy Records

 

More information on Hell or Highwater’s signing is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.hellorhighwaterofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hell0rhighwater

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.

Nonpoint Signs New Deal With Spinefarm Records

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

Spinefarm Records announced today a major new addition to its roster.

Spinefarm Records has added veteran rock band Nonpoint to its roster. Officials with Spinefarm Records announced that the band will begin work on its ninth full-length studio record early in 2016 and release the album via the upstart record label soon after. Nonpoint has built a worldwide following from the release of its debut album fifteen years ago all the way up to its most recent recording, 2014’s The Return all while making its way around the country and the world alike and facing a number of lineup changes along the way. Nonpoint front man Elias Soriano, who has fronted the band since its formation, spoke briefly on the band signing with Spinefarm. He noted that the band agreed to the deal with Spinefarm because the label shared the band’s drive for getting its music out there. “In the 15 years of being part of this big machine, filled with radio stations, labels and all-around crazies, it feels nice to sit down and talk about the future of your lifelong dream with a team that shares the passion and excitement that we do performing the music,” he said. “Spinefarm is home now. Hallelujah.”

Spinefarm GM Jonas Nachsin put into words the excitement and drive on the labe’s behalf saying, “”As our roster continues to build, we are very excited to have such a quality act join forces with us.” He added, “Nonpoint’s new music sounds amazing and along with their great team including Steve Davis, we are very excited to bring it to the world in the very near future.”

Before it heads back into the studio to start recording its upcoming album, Nonpoint will hit the road overseas alongside Fozzy. A Full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates is available online now along with the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.nonpoint.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nonpoint

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 reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.