Slayer Reclaims The Metal Crown With Its New LP

Ladies and gentlemen, the kings have returned. Just as Richard reclaimed his rightful place upon his return so has Slayer officially reclaimed its rightful place atop the metal pantheon with its new album Repentless. The album, which is currently slated to be released in stores and online this Friday, September 11th, is a welcome return for the band. That is especially the case considering everything that the band has faced since the release of its last album, 2009’s World Painted Blood. First the band parted ways with drummer Dave Lombardo early in 2013 due to a boiling over of internal tensions between himself and his then band mates. Then in May the band lost guitarist and founding member Jeff Hanneman when Hanneman passed away. Facing such a double whammy in one year would likely have been cause for any lesser band to call it quits. Slayer isn’t any lesser band, though. If anything facing such adversity has only made Slayer’s members stronger. That is clear in the twelve tracks that make up the body of Repentless. The album’s title track and first full song is one example of just how strong the band still remains. With its mix of full throttle thrash metal and thought-provoking lyrics that are supposedly about Hanneman, this song is certain to be a fan favorite. ‘Take Control is another example of what makes Repentless one of those rare albums that really lives up to the hype. Its mix of adrenaline-fueled musical content and seeming socio-political commentary in its lyrical content makes it just as hard-hitting as any of the album’s other compositions. Much the same can be said of ‘Implode’ save for its musical content. In regards to its musical content, it doesn’t come right out at audiences unlike ‘Take Control’ and ‘Repentless.’ Even with that progression, it still boasts a certain heaviness that when coupled with the song’s lyrical content still makes it one more example of just how much Slayer’s fans have to look forward to in this the band’s twelfth new full-length studio recording. It is hardly the only other song that could be used to exemplify why Repentless has been so highly anticipated. From one fan to the next, every fan will find his or her own example(s) of why this record more than lives up to its hype. Considering that, it can be justifiably said of Repentless that it is one of this year’s best new metal/hard rock albums.

One would think that having been making music and touring the world over countless times over the course of the past three decades plus, Slayer would have lost at least some of its strength since its original formation. But as the band’s new album Repentless proves quite the opposite. That is even with all of its lineup changes and other obstacles. This record shows from its short instrumental opener to its closer ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that the band hasn’t lost a step over that time. The album’s title track is just one example of how much Slayer still has to offer audiences. The song, which has been said to be about former guitarist Jeff Hanneman, takes the band’s signature full-throttle sound with some thought-provoking lyrical content to make it a song that is sure to make it a fan favorite. Front man Tom Araya screams over Kerry King’s razor-sharp shredding and drummer Paul Bostaph’s impeccable time keeping, “My songs relive the atrocities/Can’t take society any f*****’ more/Intensity, anarchy, hatred amplified/Playin’ this s*** is all that keeps me alive/I leave it all on the road/Livin’ on the stage/This is my life/Where I kill it every day/So take your shot/bottom’s up/This is no lie/I’ll be beating this guitar till the day I die.” This verse in whole makes easy to see how the song would be in reference to Hanneman as it perhaps attempts to capture his mentality as his personal struggles began to get the better of him. Araya notes in the song’s chorus, “I hate the life/Hate the fame/Hate the f*****’ scene/P****** match of egos/F*** their vanity/Aint’ got time/I don’t want anything from you/Feeding on my tolerance is all you f*****’ do/No looking back/No regrets/No apologies/What you get is what you see/We’re all killing ourselves a little more every day.” That line in which Araya notes, “I don’t want anything from you” strengthens the argument that the song is about Hanneman. The intensity of the song’s musical content set against that lyrical content solidifies it even more as it projects the seeming mentality of someone who was really angry at everyone and everything. Regardless of whether or not the song is in fact centered on Hanneman, it can be said that the song’s combination of musical and lyrical intensity makes it a hard-hitting work and in turn one example of why Repentless lives up to its expectations and then some.

Repentless’ title track is an excellent example of why it lives up to its expectations and then some. It is just one example of why the album proves so impressive, too. ‘Take Control’ is another example of what makes Slayer’s new LP such a solid new effort from one of metal’s elite. Speaking in terms of its musical content, it is another full throttle, balls to the walls thrash anthem that is just as sure to be a fan favorite as the album’s title track. King shows why he is one of the top axe men in the metal community here with his work on the guitar while Bostaph is once again flawless in his time keeping. One can’t ignore Araya’s vocal prowess here either. Araya puts to shame even some of the top names in the metal community with the power in his deivery. Of course the musical content is just one part of the whole of ‘Take Control.’ The song’s lyrical content plays just as much of a part in its overall enjoyment as its musical content. As Araya screams, “My voice is a weapon/The bombs are away/My mind is the trigger/So fire away/The world in a crossfire/Of panic and fear/The war is upon us/I say it starts here.” The bombs in question are the words to his voice being the weapon from which the bombs are discharged. And the bombs get quite powerful later in the song as Araya screams, “Why do they call it the land of the free/Political banter-that’s if you ask me/Diffusing the problem/The question is how/With imminent conflict/The answer starts now/I can’ say/We’re not the reason for the world’s decay/Here to stay/We’re just the ones who won’t go away.” It can be inferred from this verse alone that the song is a commentary about the current state of the world and Slayer’s place in the world especially considering the band’s reputation. That argument is made even stronger as he screams in the song’s chorus, “We will take control/Of this abortion called society/I despise the mediocrity/We are the torch that lights the fuse/A social terror with nothing to lose.” It is as if Araya is saying that the band, rather than being the band that so many have tagged it to be, is a force to motivate people to make a change. This is of course just this critic’s own interpretation. Others could have their own take on these lyrics. Regardless, the fact that the song’s lyrical content could potentially generate such discussion and thought is more than enough reason for listeners to hear this song. Together, the song’s musical and lyrical content make even clearer why ‘Take Control’ is one more solid representative of Repentless’ success. It still is not the last example of what makes Repentless such a solid new effort from Slayer. ‘Implode’ is one more example of why Repentless was well worth the wait.

‘Implode’ is one more way in which Repentless shows itself proves to have been worth the wait. The main reason for that is the same as that of the previously noted songs–the combination of its musical and lyrical content. ‘Implode’s’ musical content stands out against ‘Take Control’ and ‘Repentless’ primarily in that the band doesn’t just jump right into the song. Rather, it starts out with a somewhat slower tempo before eventually building into that all too familiar full throttle, adrenaline-fueled sound that makes up the majority of the songs on this record. What’s really impressive about this is the fact that the band doesn’t waste too much time in building up to that full-throttle sound. There are far too many bands out there that can’t seem to get that balance just right. Thankfully Slayer has not one of those bands as is exhibited here. Moving on to the song’s lyrical content, it is hardly the most optimistic piece. However, one can’t help but agree with Araya to a point as he screams, “sick of this s*** called policy/Life support for a dead economy/Brain dead leaders of the world conspire/Acting with malice only fuels the fire/No wonder people of religion obsess/All it wants a man to do is confess/Arrogance will never let the fools concede/You know you’re gonna have to stand and watch them bleed.” Araya’s commentary in the song’s lead verse is quite similar with him noting how the world is essentially doing itself in. While the sentiment presented within these verses is, again, not quite optimistic, it brings everything full circle, illustrating expertly Araya’s earlier statement in ‘Take Control’ of Slayer being that force that ignites the flame within listeners so as to get them to make a change. It could even be argued that it can be linked to the vantage point of ‘Repentless,’ too as it points out those negative things that drove that song’s subject so angry. Considering this, it is clear why ‘Implode’ is one more important and impressive addition to Repentless. Together with the likes of ‘Take Control,’ ‘Repentless,’ and the rest of the album’s songs, it is yet another example of why Repentless was well worth the wait. Together with the rest of the album’s songs, it serves that much more to show also why Repentless is one of this year’s best new metal/hard rock records.

Slayer’s fans have waited five years for the band to release its next album. in the world of the music industry, five years is an eternity. And considering the obstacles that the band had to overcome only a couple of years ago, fans couldn’t help but wonder if they would ever hear from Slayer again. Luckily for them, the band didn’t let said obstacles stop it. Instead, as fans will hear in the likes of ‘Implode,’ ‘Take Control’ and the album’s title track, the band obviously instead used its obstacles to create what is one of its strongest records to date. Those three tracks are collectively just a glimpse of why Repentless lives up to its expectations. Fans will agree in hearing the album for themselves that any of the album’s songs could be used as examples of why this record is such a success. Considering this, the album in whole can be said to be one of this year’s best new metal/hard rock records. It will be available this Friday, September 11th in stores and online. Fans can order Repentless online now and keep up with all of the band’s latest news online now at:

Website: http://www.slayer.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SlayerBand

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com. 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.

“Blood In Blood Out” Is Exodus’ Best Record To Date

Courtesy:  Nuclear Blast America/Nuclear Blast Records

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast America/Nuclear Blast Records

Exodus is one of the metal community’s most legendary acts.   The Richmond, California-based band has been making pure metal for the masses for well over three decades. In that time, the band has seen its highs and its lows, like any band out there. This past October, Exodus reached another high when it released its latest album Blood In, Blood Out. The album, the band’s tenth full-length studio release is arguably the band’s best work to date. One could say that that is thanks to the return of front man Steve Souza. It could also be that the band produced this album itself, essentially keeping full creative control within the band’s ranks. Regardless the end result of Blood In, Blood Out is an album that every purist thrash metal fan will thoroughly enjoy and an album that is just as deserving of a spot on this year’s list of the best new metal albums as those from Overkill, Anti-Mortem, and fellow thrash metal kings Machine Head among so many others. The album’s lead single and title track is proof of that. The song is a battle cry of sorts from the band letting audiences know in on uncertain terms that Exodus is most certainly back. ‘Collateral Damage,’ the album’s third track is more proof that Blood In, Blood Out is the band’s best work to date. It is a socio-politically charged piece that attacks those in the higher echelons of the world’s political and economic machines. On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, the band offers up a piece in ‘My Last Nerve’ that every listener will appreciate. It goes after those people that are so quick to make life miserable for everyone around them. All three of these pieces are clear examples of what makes Blood In, Blood Out Exodus’ best album to date and one of the year’s best new metal albums. If they are not enough for listeners, there is also a commentary on the inhuman acts of violence committed against innocent lives by certain Muslim extremist groups in ‘Honor Killings’ another social commentary in ‘Salt The Wound’ and even a rather interesting commentary on the atrocious acts of the BTK Killer among much more throughout this album. Again, these songs taken into consideration with the others noted here (and those not noted) result in an album that every metal purist will appreciate.

It goes without saying that Blood In, Blood Out is the best work that Exodus has released in the course of its three decades-plus long life. It is a thrash record that takes audiences back to thrash metal’s heyday. That is evident right from the album’s lead single and title track. The song is the perfect lead-off for the album with the pummeling attack of drummer Tom Hunting and shredding of guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus. Front man Steve Souza adds his own touch with a vocal style that easily matches that of Overkill front man Bobby Ellsworth. He sings in this song, “We’re throwing down the gauntlet/Chomping at the bit/About to lay down the law/Show you all the way/Bear witness to Genesis/Of the violence the way it was back in the day/We’ve been here from the start/With a one track mind/We kept the hate alive/Always had the power/Now is zero hour/Tonight we’re gonna fight like it’s 1985.” The reference to 1985 is an obvious reference to the band’s 1985 debut record Bonded By Blood, to which many fans have compared this record stylistically speaking. It could also be argued that it’s a pun in reference to a famous Prince song. That opening verse is a statement to all of the purists and psuedo-metal bands out there that currently permeate the metal community. Souza goes on with his attack singing in the song’s chorus, “Dive in or bow out/If you have the pedigree/Welcome to the family/All in or all out/Half way, no way/Give it all you’ve got/We wrote the book so you’d better know the plot/New breed, old creed/Let’s see what you brought/This s&*$ has turned into a rout/Blood in, Blood out.” Souza and company leave nothing to doubt here. This is a full-on first salvo from Exodus in its new album. And it hits its target full force. Audiences can check out the song’s official companion video online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c69S3pD8qI. The official lyric video is also available online via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfu94oJ1so8.

Blood In, Blood Out’s lead single and title track was the perfect choice to re-introduce the band to the metal legions around the world. It is a full-on musical assault from the band, proving right off the top why this album is the band’s best work to date. Another good example of what makes this album such a hit for fans is the album’s socio-politically charged opus ‘Collateral Damage.’ As with the album’s lead single, this piece is another excellent throwback to thrash metal’s heyday. That same dual-guitar assault coupled with Tom Hunting’s drumming and Steve Souza’s shredding vocal style drives the song from start to finish. The song’s socio-politically charged lyrics make the song even more hard-hitting. Souza sings in this song, “Blitzkrieg, insurgence/Under the thumbs of the powers that be/Conflict, tension, unlawful detention/They don’t give a f&*) about you or me/We are all just collateral damage/the s%&$ they step in on their way/Just puppets used to their advantage/To chew up and throw away.” Yet again, Souza and company leave no doubt as to the message being sent here. It’s a nice change of pace from all of the bands out there whose members love to write in metaphors, thus leaving many to misinterpret said bands’ songs. There’s just as little doubt left in the song’s closing verse as Souza sings, “Illuminati of the one percent/We chase their carrot on a string/Wall street deceit all stuck on repeat/Peons serving to the kings/To them it’s all just a natural selection/A birth right of gluttony/Like a kind of Immaculate Conception/Of inbred conformity.” Taking that verse and the song’s opening verse into consideration, it’s obvious that this song is a protest and a call to action. The band is bringing to people’s attention what is going on around us and to us as a result of the people in the world’s upper echelons of politics and economics. The band’s members are saying that people need to be aware of this and start standing up to those people and their institutions that are controlling the world. Such a powerful message set against an equally powerful musical backing makes Blood In, Blood Out even more of a hit for fans of this veteran thrash metal band.

The socio-political commentary contained in ‘Collateral Damage’ and the full-on musical assault of ‘Blood In, Blood Out’ are both key examples of what makes this album Exodus’ best work to date. There is also a commentary in ‘My Last Nerve’ that will impress audiences just as much as those previously noted songs. The commentary in question goes after those people that seem to live to make the lives of everyone around them miserable. Musically speaking, this song isn’t the full throttle attack of ‘Blood In, Blood Out’ or ‘Collateral Damage.’ But even being a little bit slower, it still boasts as much power as those songs and those not noted here. Souza sings in this piece, “I’m so irritated/Being kicked to the curb/Every time you open your mouth/You try to get in the last word/Those who live in glass houses /Should not be throwing stones/It all comes crashing down/You never left well enough alone.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “So many excuses/Always laying the blame/You’re always pointing the finger/Adding fuel to the flame/Another slander, another slur/Another hollow apology/So many verbal abuses/Believe your own mythology.” These are words to which anyone can relate metalhead or not. Everyone has dealt that person or even those people who will step on everyone else to get to the top. Those that will throw others under the bus every chance they get. They are the same ones that make every excuse as to why it’s everybody else’s fault that this or that event goes awry. This is a universal topic. And the members of Exodus have handled it expertly in this song both musically and lyrically. It is just one more reason that Exodus’ fans new and old alike will enjoy Blood In, Blood Out.

‘Blood In, Blood Out,’ ‘Collateral Damage,’ and ‘My Last Nerve’ are all excellent examples of what makes Exodus’ tenth full length album well worth the listen by any metal purist. They are collectively just a sample of what makes this album so enjoyable by any purist metalhead and thrash metal fan. The politically charged attack of ‘Honor Killings’ is another example of what makes this album so hard hitting. The band tackles the atrocities committed by the various Muslim extremist groups in the Middle East against innocent lives in this song. And ‘Salt The Wound’ is lyrically along the same lines as ‘Last Nerve.’ There is even an interesting commentary on the equally atrocious acts of the BTK Killer and the shocking revelation of who turned out to be in the end. In the grand scheme of things, it is a commentary about how we as people think we know someone but in reality we really never know as much as we might think. Whether it be that song, the politically charged ‘Honor Killings,’ the social commentary of ‘Salt The Wound’ or the topics covered in the album’s other tracks, every listener will agree that every one of these songs (including those not noted) combine to make Blood In, Blood Out Exodus’ best album to date, especially when considered alongside the songs’ musical content.

Blood In, Blood Out is available in stores and online now and Exodus is currently on tour in support of the album. The band is scheduled to perform at The Palladium in Worcester, MA today and at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ tomorrow. It will make stops in Philadelphia and Cleveland over the weekend. Audiences can check out Exodus’ latest tour dates and keep up with the band’s latest updates online now at:

Website: http://www.exodusattack.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/exodusattack

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.

Anti-Mortem Makes A Solid First Impression On Its Debut LP

Courtesy:  Nuclear Blast America

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast America

Anti-Mortem’s debut record New Southern is one of the best new hard rock records of 2014. The band’s debut record, which is available now in stores and online, has taken the best elements of Black Label Society, Hellyeah, and Pantera—just to name a few—and has blended them together to make a record that clearly shows why the band signed with what is one of hard rock’s “big three” labels in Nuclear Blast Records. For those that might be curious, the other pair of labels that comprise that “big three” are Metal Blade Records and Century Media Records. The band grabs listeners right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Words of Wisdom’ and doesn’t let go until the final strains of the album’s closer. Along the way, the band more than makes its argument as to why it deserves to be on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. Case in point the band’s latest single ‘Truck Stop Special’ and the southern rock sludge of ‘Black Heartbeat.’ These songs are just a few examples of why Anti-Mortem’s New Southern has earned a spot at least on this critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock records. Audiences will agree that any of the songs on this record show why the band deserves such an honor from any critic.

Anti-Mortem proves to audiences why its debut record is one of the year’s best new hard rock records right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Words of Wisdom.’ The comparisons to Black Label Society and Hellyeah are instantaneous thanks to the heavy guitar riffs of Nevada Romo and Zain Smith, and front man Larado Romo’s searing vocals. In an era when it seems that crunching down-tuned guitars and indecipherable cookie monster growls seem to be leading the way in the rock world, this combination of musicianship is a breath of fresh air even in the rock community. Of course the equally pounding drumming of Levi Dickerson and bassist Corey Henderson’s solid low end aren’t to be forgotten, either. They add their own depth to the song’s musical side as Larado Romo sings (Yes, he actually sings to a certain extent unlike so many rock vocalists today), “I was told my whole life/Don’t do this/Don’t do that/Force your opinion on me/Like it was fact/You tried to hypnotize/And teach me to act/the truth is you lied/And there’s no going back.” He and his band mates go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “You wonder/What’s under/What’s underneath my skin/You wonder what is under/Underneath my/I see no reason why/We should lay down and die/No words of wisdom.” There is no cryptic hidden message here. This song is a full-on, horns-high hard rock anthem. And it will have any true fan of the genre singing along with pride. That pride doesn’t lessen at all even after this song ends. That’s evident in another of the album’s highest points, ‘Truck Stop Special.’

‘Truck Stop Special’ is southern sludge rock at its finest. What can be said of this song but it is destined to be just as much a favorite for audiences both on the album and in a live setting. It’s a powerful song both musically and lyrically. Lyrically, Romo comes across as singing about making the most of life. This argument could be made in noting the song’s chorus. Romo sings in the chorus, “You can’t live your life, no/With your head in the sand/You can’t waste your time, son/On a fool’s errand.” That argument is made even stronger as he sings in the song’s second verse, “No money to drown in/No hope to hang/Trouble’s the way I’m living child/When there ain’t no fame/Our education boy/I’ll show you how to be yeah/To never want nothing son/To take all you need.” In the song’s final verse, Romo goes on to note how the last to a given point suffer the possibility of losing everything. He is speaking metaphorically here saying that those that waste their time in life are in danger of negative consequences. Overall, he is saying people shouldn’t waste their lives and let life pass them by. That carpe diem message of sorts next to the song’s solid driving musical makes this song one more of so many of New Southern’s many high points.

The members of Anti-Mortem show time and again throughout the course of New Southern’s twelve tracks and forty-six total minutes just why the band’s debut record is so deserving of being added to any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. ‘Truck Stop Special’ and ‘Words of Wisdom’ are both prime examples of why it deserves to be on that list. There is one more song that could be noted among the many standout tracks on this album proving that argument. The song in question, ‘Black Heartbeat’ comes almost halfway through the album. The song focuses on broken relationship, lyrically. But it doesn’t come across in the typical ‘oh woe is me’ style of so many songs. It really captures the mixed emotions of anger and pain felt by someone that has been on the receiving end of a broken relationship. And Romo makes no bones about the song’s subject matter as he sings, “It’s safe to say/It’s over now/At least until you call/Sometimes I wonder why I care/And loved you at all/Go on and pretend/It’s not your fault/Your cold black heartbeat/Has come to a halt/So use me/Abuse me/To get what you need/Confuse me/Lie to me/Your damage has been done/You can’t take advantage of my love anymore/No trust/Don’t wanna see/Then just walk out the door.” Some out there might not like the comparison, but one could almost compare this piece to Theory of a Deadman’s song ‘Get What You Deserve.’ The two songs are very similar both in terms of their themes and musical sides. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. ‘Get What You Deserve’ is rather scathing in its own way just as this song proves to be. And it comes from a similar vantage point. It’s one of those pieces that when one is going through a separation of any kind will most definitely empower listeners and help them to get through such times. Ergo, ‘Black Heartbeat’ will have done its job. And in turn it will have proven once more just why New Southern more than deserves to be considered one of this year’s best new hard rock records.

All three of the songs noted in this review are prime examples of why New Southern deserves a spot on every critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. They are also prime examples of why this album deserves a spot on the CD rack of every purist hard rock and metal fan. They aren’t the only examples of the album’s solidity. Every song on this album could be used for this argument. That’s truly saying something. The album is available now in stores and online. It can also be purchased at any of the upcoming live performances on the band’s current concert schedule. The band will kick off a summer tour at Strummer’s in Fresno, California on Tuesday, July 8th. Audiences can check out the band’s current tour itinerary online now and even buy New Southern at the band’s official website, http://anti-mortem.com. The band’s current tour schedule and updates are also available via Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/AntiMortemUSA and http://twitter.com/antimortemusa. 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.