Lord’s New Record Is A Covers Compilation That Is Actually Worth Hearing

Courtesy: Dominus Records

Independent rock band Lord released its latest record this week.  Its new covers compilation, Undercovers Vol. 1 released Friday through Dominus Records.  The 23-song (yes, 23 songs) comes less than a year after the trio released its then latest EP, Chaos Raining, and approximately two years after the release of its then latest new album, Fallen Idols.  This latest compilation stands out from so many other compilations already released this year in part because of its featured songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  The band’s take on the songs makes for its own share of interest and will be discussed a little later.  The songs’ sequencing puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation.  When this element is considered along with the other noted items, the record in whole proves that while it is largely a space filler between albums, is still a positive addition to Lord’s catalog.

Lord’s new covers compilation, Undercovers Vol. 1 is a positive new presentation from the longtime independent hard rock band.  The record’s appeal comes in large part through its songs.  The songs are important to note in that they are not just a bunch of songs that the band recorded specially for this compilation.  Rather, they are mostly covers that the band has recorded throughout its life and has only now made available together.  Simply put, they were brought together as a way to entertain the band’s fans in lieu of a live recording and even new live dates while promoters and venue heads decide their next steps for live music.  They are not just some random space-filler used to appease contractual obligations.

Bassist Andy Dowling explained the songs’ collection during a recent interview.

“Covers have been a big love of ours since the early days of Dungeon right up to and including now,” said Dowling. “Over the years in Lord these tracks have ended up on limited edition releases, bonus tracks in isolated parts of the world and other weird and wonderful places. These songs have been scattered over so many different places that even we struggle ourselves to remember where on earth all of these songs can be found.” 

“While bands around the world continue to navigate these uncertain times, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to release this collection of cover songs, as well as new recordings, to keep the LORD machine moving while we continue to write new music,” he added. 

Additionally, Dowling pointed out that two of the songs featured in the compilation —  Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’ and Judas Priest’s ‘Reckless’ – were the only songs specially recorded for the compilation.  Those two songs are only a small portion of the 23 (yes, 23) total songs featured in this recording, and are important because they are a highlight of the diversity in the collection.  The band also took on The Police (‘Message in a Bottle’) here, as well as songs from Bon Jovi, Helloween, Metallica, and Little River Band just to name a handful of other acts featured in the compilation.  The short and simple is that the bands covered here come from a wide range of genres.  From hard rock –Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax – to classic rock – Little River Band – to 80s hair rock – Bon Jovi – to prog – Queensryche, Symphony X – to mainstream pop and rock – The Police, Savage Garden – Lord takes on music from so many influences.  That diversity in the bands and music featured here helps to build the band’s reputation and at the same time, perhaps even introduce audiences to music to which they might not have otherwise listened.  If for no other reason, that diversity in the bands and songs will keep audiences engaged and entertained.  It is of course just one of the elements that make this recording so interesting.  The band’s performance of said songs adds to the record’s interest.

Lord’s take on The Police’s ‘Message in a Bottle’ is just one example of the importance of the band’s performances.  Lord’s take on the classic song is interesting in that while it stays largely true to its source material, it essentially amps up that original in a sort of 80s power metal style work.  That updated take — complete with machine gun-fast bass drum work, melodic guitar lines, and operatic vocals – shows that the song strangely enough works just as well in this case as in the original presentation.  It is not one of those woks that hits listeners in its first listen, either.  Rather, it will grow on listeners with each listening, highlighting its longevity.

The band’s take on a-ha’s ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’ is yet another example of the band’s performances here.  In the case of this performance, the band has opted more for an 80s hair metal style performance that makes for quite the contrast against a-ha’s keyboard-driven original composition.  There is the slightest touch of a power ballad early on in the original composition, what with the string arrangement, but that soon gives way to the band’s more familiar new wave approach, which is more present throughout the song.  Lord’s take on the song, as noted, is more of an 80s hair power ballad type work.  It gives a-ha’s original quite the unique new identity in this case with its amped up take on the song.  Where it ends up standing with listeners will be left for those audiences to decide.  That aside, it definitely makes for its own interest. 

W.A.S.P. is another of the bands whose work is covered in this compilation.  In this case, Lord took on the band’s hit song ‘Wild Child.’  In this case, the stylistic approach taken by Lord is largely the same as that of W.A.S.P.  The difference is that Lord’s cover is actually an improvement on the original.  It would seem here that is more due to the production.  The production makes the song sound so much fuller and richer here than the original.  It makes the song sound more modern with a throwback feel.  To that end, it is yet another example of the impact of the band’s performances here, and the importance thereof.  When it is considered along with the other performances noted here and the rest of the record’s featured performances, the whole of those performances makes for even more engagement and entertainment.  It is just one more example of what makes this compilation worth hearing.  The sequencing of the songs featured in this compilation rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of Undercovers Vol. 1 is important to examine because of its role in the record’s general effect.  The record starts in contemplative fashion with its cover of Savage Garden’s ‘To the Moon and Back’ but very quickly after, it picks up with its take of Iron Maiden’s ‘Judas Be My Guide.’  It is not even until the record reaches its midpoint in its take of Cutting Crew’s ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms’ that the album’s energy even remotely pulls back.  From that point on, the compilation’s energy remains relatively high, even as the band takes on what are some otherwise reserved songs.  Even in those cases, the band manages to amp up those songs, including their energies.  So overall, the sequencing ensures that the album’s energy remains relatively high throughout its 100-minute (one hour, 40 minute) run time.  That the record’s energy remains relatively high, and even gives a break point roughly halfway through ensures that the record will run fluidly throughout, ensuring even more, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  When that certain engagement and entertainment is considered with the impact of the band’s unique performances and the variety of songs featured here, that whole makes the compilation overall, its own standout presentation.  Add in the fact that this compilation marks the first time that the band has ever united the previously recorded covers in one setting, and the compilation gains even more appeal.  It shows that this was not just some randomly recorded presentation used to appease contractual obligations.  Between this and everything else noted, the record in whole proves to be a covers collection that is actually worth hearing.

Lord’s new covers compilation Undercovers Vol. 1 is an interesting presentation that rockers and even pop music fans alike will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to the songs featured in the recording.  The band does not just take on a bunch of hard rock and metal songs here, though there are a lot of those songs featured here.  The band also takes on songs from pop and pop rock acts, such as Savage Garden, The Police,  a-ha, and even Kylie Minogue.  That variety in itself makes for reason enough to hear this presentation.  That only two of the songs featured here were specially recorded for the compilation shows that this was not just some randomly thrown together presentation that was made to appease any contractual obligations for the band.  Rather, it was a way for the band to bring together so many of the covers that it has recorded over the course of its life.  That makes the presentation more special in itself.  The band’s performance of the featured covers makes for its own appeal.  That is because they give those originals their own unique identities from one to the next.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out the most important of the compilation’s elements.  That is because it ensures the record’s pacing remains stable throughout while also constantly giving listeners something interesting rather than redundant.  Each item noted here is unquestionably important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the record a work that despite being a covers compilation, still a presentation that is worth hearing, and at least once at that. Undercovers Vol. 1 is available now through Dominus Records.

More information on Undercovers Vol. 1 is available along with all of Lord’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.lord.net.au

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/lordofficial

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/lordofficial

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Johnny Nocash & The Celtic Outlaws Debuts ‘Burned Alive’ Video

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Independent country rock band Johnny Nocash and the Celtic Outlaws debuted the video for its latest single this wee.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Burned Alive’ Tuesday through The Pit. The video features Nocash and his band mates in two settings, walking along a dusty road and then enjoying some cold drinks and good music around a campfire. The simple approach ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment.

The musical arrangement featured in the band’s new single is of its own interest as it is a stark contrast to the band’s most recent single, ‘The Hex.’ That song does have heavy moments throughout, but its verses are noticeably more reserved, incorporating more of a Celtic rock sound than country rock. ‘Burned Alive’ features a distinctly more gritty, heavy sound whose overall stylistic approach and sound will appeal to fans of similar acts, such as Corrosion of Conformity, Texas Hippie Coalition, and Pantera.

The song’s lyrical content matches its musical arrangement, simply focusing on life on the road and performing live, thus the imagery used in the video.

Nocash said in a prepared statement, he hopes that audiences will appreciate the song.

“Our new single ‘Burned Alive; is a combination of the time we’ve spent on the road mixed with all of us coming together as a unit, a brotherhood if you will, to create something that moves people,” he said. “We feel that this will not only be received well from our fans now but will pull outside audiences in for a closer listen to what we have to say.”

‘Burned Alive’ is available to stream and download through Spotify and the band’s official Bandcamp page.

More information on ‘Burned Alive’ is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.johnnynocash.com

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

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Upon A Burning Body’s New EP Is Will Continue To “Build” The Band’s Name And Reputation

Courtesy: Seek & Strike

Hard rock band Upon a Burning Body is, it would seem, one of the hardest working bands in the hard rock community today.  Having formed approximately 15 years ago (which is not that long ago in music industry years), the band has released five albums and one EP.  The longest stretch that the band has gone between new albums is three years, which came between the band’s fourth album Straight From the Barrio (2016) and its fifth album Southern Hostility (2019).  Each of those albums has enjoyed its own level of success in terms of charting.  The band shortened its time between new records again this week with the release of its second ever EP Built From War.  The five-song record was released Friday through Seek & Strike Records – its second studio recording for the independent label.  The 17-minute record is a work that the band’s established fan base will appreciate jut as much as metalcore and metal fans in general.  That is thanks to its musical and lyrical content, as is evidenced in part by the EP’s first two songs, ‘5X3’ and ‘Built From War.’  Each song will be addressed here, along with the EP’s penultimate song ‘Living for the Weekend.’  All three songs do their own part to make this record work as well as it does.  When they are considered with the EP’s two remaining songs — ‘Chains of Agony’ and ‘Extermination’ – the whole makes Built From War an EP that is built for success.

Upon A Burning Body’s latest studio recording Built From War is a strong new offering from the band, which has already made quite the impact on the metal community in such a short time.  That is due to its musical and lyrical content, each of which is accessible in its own way.  The EP’s opener, ‘5X3’ is just one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements.  This song’s arrangement is a full-on assault on the ears, but in the best way possible.  It is a blues-infused heavy metal opus that wastes no time grabbing listeners by the ear with its heavy, driving guitars, time-keeping, vocals and bass.  The immediate thought that comes to mind in listening to the song’s musical arrangement is a work that takes the best elements of Hatebreed and Lamb of God and combines them into one whole for a work that will keep listeners’ adrenaline peaked.  That adrenaline is heightened through the social commentary that is clearly presented through the song’s lyrical content.

The social commentary in question is a statement about people’s obsessions with celebrity and fame in general.  This is pointed out in the song’s lead verse and chorus, through which front man Danny Leal screams, “Nothing’s free in this world motherf*****/This life is not what you see on your screen/Your 5×3 reality/Before you double tap on what you wish you could be/Understand it might not be what you think/You want it so bad/But you don’t know what it means/There’s no turning back/Once you’re in too deep/Can you handle it/Here’s the cold hearted truth/Only craving the money the power the fame will never satisfy you.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “This life is not just the views from the top/Because the higher your head gets the faster you’ll drop.”  This applies just as much to people’s obsession with celebrities and wanting to be famous as to wanting to be famous through YouTube and internet in general.  Given, this is hardly the first time that any band has ever take on the topic of people’s obsession with fame and celebrity, but it is no less gripping here as from any other act from across the musical universe.  When it is considered along with the fire in the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes just one of the EP’s most notable entries.  The record’s title track stands on its own merits.

The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Built From War’ is a full on thrash/groove composition that will keep listeners just as engaged and entertained as ‘5X3.’  The powerhouse guitars and time keeping works with the bass line and vocals to once again present that Hatebreed-meets-Lamb of God type of sound.  Even more to its credit is that the arrangement is not just a rehashing of 5X3.  It is its own, unique musical presentation that audiences will appreciate just as much as that song.  That pummeling musical arrangement is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content partners well with that merciless musical arrangement.

The song’s lyrical is a fist-pump-inducing statement that encourages listeners to defy all obstacles.  That message is made clear in the song’s lead verse and chorus in which Leal screams, “Are you the strongest of them all/Cross the lines of fate/Wipe the blood from your face/Forged in the heart of the fire/Fueled from failure/Made for more/Built from war.”  It is strengthened even more in the song’s second verse as he notes, “The power remains/The blood fueling rage/Don’t turn away/To rise you must fall/Tell me do you have the strength within you to be the strongest of them all.”  It is cemented in the song’s third and fourth verses, “Start the battle and end the war/Strength is the only way out/To be the strongest of them all/What are you built from/Are you the strongest of them all/Strength is the only way out/To be the strongest of them all.”  Again, little to no doubt is left here as to the song’s uplifting message.  It is a message of self-determination and strength.  When that welcome message is coupled with the song’s equally powerful musical arrangement, the result is a work that holds its own just as much as ‘5X3.’  It is just one more way in which the EP shines.  ‘Living for the Weekend’ is yet another song that makes the EP stand out.

‘Living for the Weekend’ stands out in part because of its own musical arrangement.  This song is not a cover of Fitz & The Tantrums’ song by the same name.  It just so happens that both songs have the same title, and while each is enjoyable in its own right, each is its own work.  It also is not a cover the song from The O’Jays, which is its own song, too.  Ironically, the song’s lyrical content is very similar in its approach, with the song’s lead verse stating, “Roll up your sleeves/And strap on them boots/Clocking in and out/It’s the work week blues/Got mouths to feed and bills to pay/All work, no play/Long days/They’re all the same/The f*****’ boss don’t even know my name/This 9-5/Gotta leave it behind/or break your f****** back/And keep your a** in line.”  The song’s chorus adds, “Thin lines, I’m walking all the time/F*** these deadlines/leave ‘em all behind/Hell yeah/All my worries are gone/With the music loud/And the grill’s on/Hell yeah, living for the weekend.”  The song continues on in similar fashion from there in its second and third verses, with the song’s subject lamenting about dealing with each day of the work week and needing a break.”  It’s a bit of a touchy subject right now considering how many thousands of people are out of work as a result of COVID-19, wishing they had a job, but it is still a song that will connect with its own share of listeners.  To that point, this and the song’s heavy, blues-based Hellyeah type arrangement make it stand out even more.  Keeping this in mind along with the impact of the other songs noted here and the EP’s other two songs not directly addressed, the whole of the EP proves itself a powerhouse presentation from Upon a Burning Body.  It makes Built From War a presentation that is built for success.

Upon a Burning Body’s new EP Built From War is a strong new presentation from the band.  It is one more example of why this band has remained so successful even despite being clearly one of the hard rock and metal community’s hardest working bands.  It shows this band is still running full steam ahead and is aimed to be one of the next leaders in the current generation of hard rock and metal bands.  That is evidenced through the EP’s musical and lyrical content, as the songs examined here show.  When those songs are considered along with the EP’s two songs not discussed, the whole of the record – the band’s seventh studio recording overall – proves itself a work that will continue to build the band’s name and reputation.  It is available now.  More information on the EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.uponaburningbody.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/uabb

 

 

 

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Annihilator Proves Again Why It Is Thrash Metal Elite With ‘Ballistic, Sadistic’

Courtesy: Neverland Music, Inc.

Thrash metal is alive and well.  This critic has pointed this out more than once during the course of this year.  New, successful albums released this year from the likes of Testament, Warbringer and Sepultura have supported that statement without any doubt.  They are just a few of the albums that have served to support the noted statement.  They are just some of those examples of what has made the thrash world so strong this year.  They also were not the first of the year’s major thrash albums.  Annihilator beat all of them to the punch on January 24 with the release of its latest album Ballistic, Sadistic.  The band’s 17th full-length studio recording, its 10 total songs make the album everything that audiences have come to expect from the veteran metal outfit, musically speaking.  This will be discussed shortly.  The album’s lyrical themes work with that noted musical aspect to add to the record’s appeal.  It will be addressed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be addressed later.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered, they make Ballistic, Sadistic another win for Annihilator and its fans.

Annihilator’s latest album Ballistic, Sadistic is a pure example from start to end of why this band has remained such a respected act both within the thrash and metal realms for more than 35 years.  That is proven in part through the 45-minute album’s overall musical presentation.  The album’s musical arrangements are, from one to the next, everything that audiences have come to expect from the band.  The shredding riffs are there as are front man Jeff Waters’ grinding vocals and drummer Fabio Alessandrini’s solid time keeping and fills.  From the full-throttle approach of ‘Out With The Garbage’ to the almost power metal approach of ‘Lip Service’ to the equally driving arrangement of ‘The Attitude,’ audiences get everything that they have come to expect from Annihilator on this latest offering from the veteran metal outfit.  What’s interesting to note in examining the arrangements is that for all of the familiarity present throughout the course of the 45-minute record, there are some aspects that audiences will find interesting in their own right.  That arrangement at the center of ‘The Attitude’ is just one of those moments that stands out.  The nearly five-minute song opens with what is best described as something of a doom sound with the slow, heavy guitars and equally impacting drumming.  This element lasts almost two minutes before the band launches into the more full-throttle, old school thrash sound for which it has come to be known.  ‘One Wrong Move’ is another  example of some changes from the band, that audiences will like.  Roughly halfway through the course of the nearly five-minute song, which in its overall presentation sounds a lot like old school Metallica circa 1991 (and old school Pantera for that matter), the song becomes decidedly subdued.  That change of tone is only temporary, though, as the song soon after, as the band gets right back to the song’s original heaviness after the brief respite.  Between these two changes, the more familiar aspects of the band’s musical work and the rest of the work not addressed, the album’s overall musical content creates a solid foundation for its presentation.  The record’s lyrical themes rest on that foundation, making the album even more appealing for audiences.

The lyrical themes featured throughout the course of Ballistic, Sadistic strengthen the foundation formed by the album’s musical arrangements.  That is because the themes in question are topics to which listeners can relate.  “The Attitude’ is just one of the songs that serves to support the noted statement.  The song comes across as addressing those people who live to make others’ lives miserable.  It is a familiar topic that has been covered many times from one act to the next and from one genre to the next.  But even in the case of this presentation, it still maintains its appeal to listeners.  Case in point is the song’s lead verse, which states, “Years of blood, sweat and tears/Under the belt/Disregard, disrespect for what you’ve been dealt/best defense, arrogance/You know it all/Enjoy your time while it lasts/Before you fall.”  The damning indictment of such behaviors from those people continues in the song’s second verse, “It’s dragging me down/Pessimist/What do you know/In a couple of years, wait and see/You’ve got nothing to show/telling me how/Teaching me how it’s done/Feel the need to educate everyone” and adds in the song’s third and final verse, “You’ll learn the lesson/Learn it well/Save your tears/I’d wish you luck/Don’t fuck a f***/get out of here.”  That final statement is the most telling, as the song’s subject clearly is taking on that negativist, telling that person that he/she is not wanted or welcome.  When that forceful statement is coupled with the song’s equally powerful musical arrangement, the whole of the song is certain to leave a lasting impact on listeners.  It is just one of the most notable examples of what makes the album’s lyrical content stand out.  ‘Dressed Up For Evil’ shows in its own way what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to its presentation.

‘Dressed Up For Evil’ does not come right out  and say it, but could very easily be considered a statement against none other than the “Mango Monster” himself, Donald J. Trump.  This is inferred right from the song’s outset as the song states, “Put on your best suit and pick out your tie/Cover up the hooves/A devil in disguise/Jump in your fancy car/Women, a plaything/Everyone’s inferior/All hail the king/Lake Damien from The Omen/A business camouflage/Hanging with your worshippers/Your phony entourage/Blending in with all of us/A smell of rotten flesh/Fending off the flies.”  The seeming statement about the wannabe dictator continues in the song’s second verse, “So condescending/Rotten to the core/Everyone’s beneath you/Put ‘em down some more/Tempting with currency/Preying on the greed/Extend the family/With demon seed/People are just property/Amassing your net worth/Building up the empire/Right here on Earth/Delusions, illusions/All a fantasy/No guilty conscience/A moral bankruptcy.”  The song’s third and final verse follows in similar fashion, but at least ends the song with a “happy” ending, stressing to that evil figure, “The reign is over/Good has overcome/Dealing with the aftermath/The healing has begun.”  One can only hope that the healing will begin come November when hopefully the giant cheeto will be gone from the White House.  Considering all of this, the song is a song that will certainly resonate with plenty of listeners.  It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.  ‘Lip Service’ is yet another way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.

The lyrical content featured in ‘Lip Service’ presents a certain intentional double entendre.  On the one hand, there is a clear sexual aspect to the song, as it states at one point, “Sweat dripping from the skin/’m dancing with the ultimate done/Like a sweet peach dipped in honey/With a taste that’s second to none/Down we go/It’s just what you need/Your pleasure and my treat/I got dessert to eat.”  Again, the sexual nature is fully evident here, but at the same time, one can consider that lip service meaning someone lying to another, there is a commentary here about just that.  People so often will pay lip service to others in order to get what they want.  That could be what is being addressed here in the bigger picture.  It could be a man trying to woo a woman.  It could be a brown noser sucking up to a boss.  Overall, the song’s lyrical content, with that seeming commentary and double entendre will certainly reach listeners and keep them just as engaged and entertained as the lyrical content featured in the album’s other noted songs and those not directly addressed.  All things considered here, the lyrical themes featured alongside the album’s musical content, make the album that much more enjoyable for listeners.  While the overall content goes a long way toward making it worth hearing, it is not all that audiences will appreciate.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of Ballistic, Sadistic is important to note because it does just as much to keep listeners engaged and entertained as the album’s overall content.  Clocking in at just over 45 minutes in length, a lot is going on in the album.  Yet even with so much happening, the album is well balanced in its energies and time.  The album’s two halves each run just over 20 minutes, with the longest of the record’s songs each running a little more than five minutes.  That means that at no point does the album let itself drag.  Even with the slight stylistic changes in some of the songs, each song still keeps the album’s overall energy moving throughout.  The result is a presentation that is just as appealing for its aesthetics as for its content.  Keeping that in mind, the album in whole proves clearly why it is another positive offering from Annihilator that is also among the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Annihilator’s 17th album Ballistic, Sadistic is another successful offering from the veteran thrash metal outfit.  That is proven in part through it musical arrangements which present plenty of familiar sounds and stylistic approaches alongside a little something new.  The album’s lyrical themes will connect with listeners just as much as its musical arrangements, as has been pointed out here.  The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Ballistic, Sadistic a presentation that the band’s established fan base will appreciate just as much as metal aficionados in general.  It is available now through Neverland Music, Inc.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.annihilatormetal.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/annihilatorband

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and ‘Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Junkowl’s Debut LP Is One Of This Year’s Most Unique New Hard Rock & Metal Albums

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Up-and-coming hard rock band Junkowl has made quite the name for itself since its formation in 2017.  Only two years after it got its start, the band won a competition earning itself a spot on the lineup for the 2019 Heavy Montreal Festival.  The annual two-day festival is Canada’s most renowned heavy music events.  This year, it was set to feature performances from the likes of Sepultura, Rammstein, and Deftones, just to name a few of the big names on the bill.  Thanks to COVID-19 the festival was postponed until next summer.  In past years, the festival has welcomed other major name acts, such as Slipknot, Overkill, and Rob Zombie.  Getting back on the subject, that Junkowl has been invited to perform at the renowned festival speaks volumes about its own reputation and talent.  Late last month, the band set out to keep its name growing when it released its debut album Making Out With My Death.  The 10-song record is a strong debut for the band.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  The album’s lyrical content also plays into its presentation, and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the album’s overall content, all three elements join to make the record a very powerful debut from Junkowl that hard rock and metal fans will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Junkow’s debut album Making Out With My Death is a powerful new offering from the independent hard rock band.  That is due in part to the record’s musical arrangements.  The album’s overall musical content exhibits a variety of influences throughout the course of its 34-minute run time.  Right from the album’s outset, audiences get a hint of a Tool influence in ‘Snakecharmer.’  Roughly a minute into the song, that influence gives way to something much heavier yet still very melodic in its own right in the vein of Dry Kill Logic, 36 Crazyfists, and All Hail The Yeti.  The fire in the song’s arrangement plays directly into the song’s lyrical arrangement, which is just as powerful in its own right and will be addressed a little later.  Front man Jesse Frechette’s screams work with each of his band mates – Dom Labrie (drums), Marco Larosa (guitar), and Samuel Matte (bass) – to make this arrangement a massively impacting first impression from the band and an equally impacting way to introduce audiences to the band.

The album’s sound changes distinctly in its second offering, ‘Quarantine Us All.’  This song’s arrangement is sort of a hybrid metal/punk approach that while it exhibits the noted influences in its own right, it also presents a stylistic approach that can be compared somewhat to Motorhead and various sludge metal bands.  That sounds like quite the odd combination of styles mixed into one, but the hybrid works surprisingly well here.  It will keep listeners engaged just as much as the album’s opener.  As the album makes its way into its third song, ‘Shake Me,’ it moves more into an aggro-rock style approach, showing once again, the variety of stylistic approaches taken in the album’s musical arrangements.  The sludge metal sound is even more prominent in the album’s fourth song, ‘Dead Hooker,’ while the Tool influence returns in the album’s midpoint, ‘Little Scum.’  Larosa’s guitar line and Labrie’s work behind the kit is reminiscent of the arrangement at the center of Tool’s song ‘Lateralus.’  Now it should be stressed that even with the similarity there, Junkowl’s arrangement is not entirely identical.  It holds its own identity.  So the band is to be commended for that.  What’s more, the Tool influence is only temporary once again in this case.  It eventually gives way to something much heavier roughly a minute into the song.  The duality of that approach, along with Frechette’s distinct vocal delivery style, makes this song just as unique as the rest of the album’s arrangements.  It’s just one more way in which the album’s musical content proves so important.

As the album enters its second half, the band opts for a more Depeche Mode-influenced work in ‘Crawling Up My Feet.’  What’s interesting here is that the manner in which the arrangement builds up conjures thoughts more of Marilyn Manson’s take on the song than Depeche Mode’s original composition.  The heaviness carries listeners on through the rest of the album from this point, letting up little if any, even in the album’s closer.  By the time the record ends, listeners will know they have experienced a unique overall hard rock presentation that will leave them wholly fulfilled even though the record’s run time comes in at just over half an hour.  It leaves listeners feeling like they have gotten the fullest offering from the band, at least musically speaking.  To that end, there is no doubt as to the importance of this album’s musical content.  The whole of the album’s musical content shows without doubt, its importance to the album’s overall presentation.  It is just one reason that hard rock and metal fans will want to hear this album at least once.  Its lyrical content plays its own part into its presentation, too.

The lyrical content that is featured throughout Making Out With My Death is just as heavy as its musical counterpart.  The album’s overall lyrical content is so heavy because it delves into some topics and possible topics that many acts (regardless of genre) are afraid to touch.  Case in point is the content featured in ‘Relapse.’  The song seemingly addresses someone trying to get over drug addiction, and does so in a very unafraid fashion.  This is inferred as Frechette screams in the song’s lead verse, I can’t come down/No, I can’t come down/I can’t come down/No, I can’t come down/*** damn, I’m finally free/Not too much left in me/Scrap of integrity/Too blurry, I can’t see/Breathe still, let go/Broken, I know/Think I might last/Hold tight, relapse/The bottle hits my lip/How easy I forget/Cocaine and cigarettes/Making out with my death.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “No, I can’t come down/Aching to break away/Oh, I am nothing but a stain/A lump of coal in your veins/I’ll only bring you pain/Breathe still, let go/Broken, I know/Think I might last Hold tight, relapse.”  The song’s chorus finds its subject screaming, almost painfully, “I can’t seem to come down.”  The pain that the subject is dealing with emotionally and physically is translated so well through this simple statement and its pairing with the song’s musical arrangement.  All thing considered here, no doubt is left as to the song’s lyrical topic.  What’s more the way in which the topic was approached adds to its strength.  It is just one way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to the record’s overall presentation.  The lyrical content (and its presentation) in the album’s opener, ‘ Snakecharmer’ is another key example of what makes the album’s lyrical content stand out.

‘Snakecharmer’ comes across as a song that addresses a situation involving domestic abuse and possibly that as a result of some mental disease that ends very badly.  The song opens with the subject stating, ‘Yeah/She’s sleeping in my bed/She knows every word that I’ve ever said/I breathe her in/She spits me out/Death echoes silent inside her mouth/Tell me this/Is your love worth bleeding, darling?/Or are you just another succubus?/Either way, I’m not sorry.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I swear I tried one thousand times to rip this demon from my mind/No matter how hard I scream/I still see her in my dreams/Tell me this, Is your love worth bleeding, darling?/Or are you just another succubus?/Either way, I’m not sorry/Kill, Fuck Blow your brains out/ Blow my brains out.”  As already noted, this story does not have a happy ending.  That mention of “I tried one thousand times to rip this demon from my mind” could allude to the subject dealing with the issue of fighting his own inner concerns, whether brought on by drugs or just mental instability.  That battle ultimately did not end well, as the song hints.  Again, this is a very difficult issue that while more acts are tackling, few are handling it in the fashion in which Junkowl did.  Keeping that in mind, it is another key point in addressing the album’s lyrical content, and not the last of the album’s most notable lyrical entries, too.  ‘Sickness Lives’ is another notable lyrical presentation to address.

‘Sickness Lives’ stands out lyrically because it, too, seems to take on the issue of addiction and dependency, too.  This is inferred as Frechette notes in the song’s lead verse, ““I’m sick of living dead in this prison/Wake up, fuck the system/Laughing alone in madness/Drinking away the sadness/Living dead in this prison/Wake up, fuck the system/Strung out on medication/What an abomination/I feel it growing inside/Petrified, paralyzed/It’s eating me alive.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I don’t want to be sober/Every day I’m growing colder/My heart’s become so heavy/Where is the end? Will someone tell me?/Screaming to block out the sound/This place is a fucking letdown/If I die before I wake, I pray with me this world I’ll take/I feel it growing inside Petrified, paralyzed/It’s eating me alive, down to the bone.”  Once again, here audiences are presented with what come across as a song that has to do with addiction.  The very mention of “Strung out on medication/What an abomination/I feel it growing inside” points to someone dealing with perhaps becoming addicted to certain medications, and the result thereof.  It is a powerful line that along with the rest of the song’s content, makes for its own very heavy statement that is sure to leave a lasting impact on listeners.  Keeping that in mind along with the other noted lyrical content and that lyrical content not noted (and the impact of each song), the whole leaves no doubt that this record’s lyrical content is just as powerful as its musical arrangements.  While the album’s overall content does a lot to make it appealing to audiences, it is just a portion of what makes the album worth hearing.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing used in the presentation of Making Out With My Death is just as important as its content to examine in looking at the album in whole.  The record’s sequencing keeps its energy stable and solid from start to end.  It has already been pointed out that the album opens with a very foreboding, Tool-esque sound that quickly gives way to something completely different and fiery.  As the album progresses, that fire never burns out, either.  It smolders at some points, but wastes little time burning bright again, keeping the album’s intensity at its height throughout.  By the time the record ends, listeners will know they have experienced something that is one of the most unique hard rock and metal (and independent) albums of the year.

Junkowl’s debut album Making Out With My Death is a powerful first offering from the independent hard rock band.  Its musical arrangements join influences from a variety of bands that make the songs in themselves and from one to the next, powerful just from this aspect.  The record’s lyrical themes are just as heavy as its musical content, as noted.  Its sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each noted item is important in its own way.  All things considered, they make the album a work that bodes well for Junkowl’s future.  Making Out With My Death is available now.

More information on Junkowl’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.junkowlmtl.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/junkowlband

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Nickelodeon, Paramount’s ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ 5-Season Set Re-Issue Is Imperfect, But Fun

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Paramount

This past May, Nickelodeon and Paramount brought the first five seasons of Nickelodeon’s hit animated series Spongebob Squarepants home once again in a massive 14-disc, 100 episode collection simply titled Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes.  It marked the first time the collection had been re-issued, and came a little more than a month ahead of the premiere of the series’ 11th (yes, eleventh) season.  Not even the network’s classic Nicktoons – as wonderful as so many of them still are today – lasted that long, with most running their course at four or five seasons.  That is an aside.  Getting back on track, this recent reissue of the box set, which was originally released to the masses in 2009 as part of the celebration of the series’ 100th episode’s airing, is a largely impressive reissue, albeit not perfect.  The set’s episode listing is its most obvious positive, and will be discussed shortly.  The set’s one negative, its packaging, will be discussed later.  Last but most definitely not least of note here is the bonus material included in the set.  Each element is important in its own right to the set’s overall presentation this time out.  All things considered, they make the first re-issue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes one of this year’s top new DVD & BD Re-Issues.

Nickelodeon and Paramount’s recent reissue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is a surprisingly enjoyable presentation for true hardcore fans of the beloved Nicktoon.  That is due in part to the set’s episode listing.  The 100 episodes presented in this collection make up the series’ first five seasons. Not a single episode from that first half of the series’ current run is missing either.  Even the roughly 2:30 short “Reef Blower,” which was part of the series’ very first episode is included here.  This is something important to note due to its tie to the set’s average price point.  Stores nationwide right now are carrying nearly every one of the series’ current seasons either in single-season sets and in some cases as bundle packs, that include single season sets together at a set price.  The cost of those sets eventually adds up.  In the case of the series’ first five seasons, the average cost of the sets runs approximately $50 both by themselves and in standalone form regardless of the outlet.  In the case of this set, its average price point is $34.73, with most of the major retailers – Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Amazon – selling it at a price point of 32.96.  Target is the only standout with a price point of $39.99.  Add in the fact that most of the noted retailers sold the set at roughly $38 in its 2009 release, that indicates a noticeable price drop this time around.  Considering all of this, audiences will see that this collection is, for the relation between its primary content and average price point, a welcome addition to their collections.  While this is clearly a positive for the set, it is not without at least one glaring problem.  That problem is its packaging.

The packaging in this set is problematic in that its 14 discs overlap each other, two to each side of the set’s plates.  While this may be a positive ergonomically speaking, the size of the set has not been reduced that much in comparison to the set’s previous release.  What’s more, by making the discs overlap in that effort to save space, it also greatly increases the odds of the discs being scratched both when they are taken out for play and when they are replaced.  To that end, this is just not smart packaging.  Audiences would probably settle for bulkier packaging if only for the reduced chance of the discs being damaged.  Even worse, this is not the first time that Paramount has gone this route in recent memory.  The company has used the same packaging method for its recent re-issues of Star Trek The Original Series: The Complete Series, The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series, I Love Lucy: The Complete Series, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series, Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series and The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series.  Considering this, one would have thought the people at Paramount would have learned their lesson by now, but apparently not, and that is disappointing.  Maybe if Nickelodeon and Paramount release a “mega-set” for the series’ second half, they will take this issue into consideration.  Again, while another method might be bulkier, it would be worth it if it meant decreased odds of discs being damaged.  Luckily, it is the set’s only negative and doesn’t completely ruin the collection.  The bonus material included in the set rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material included in this presentation of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is important to note because it is the same material presented in the set’s 2009 presentation.  The nearly hour-long VH1 special Square Roots: The Story of Spongebob Squarepants is the most important of that bonus material. It takes audiences through the series’ history up through its fifth season from its unlikely roots in series creator Seth Hillenburg’s early career at an aquarium to the religious right’s attempt to slander Spongebob to Hillenburg’s eventual departure from the series.  The 40-minute-plus doc presents the series’ humble roots on Nickelodeon to its surprising rise to worldwide fame all while looking ahead to its future, which obviously has proven to be quite bright.

As if that extensive history lesson isn’t enough, the set also includes a multi-lingual presentation of the series’ debut episode ‘Help Wanted’ as a bonus.  The episode includes the series’ theme song being sung in Spanish, Chinese, French, German and other languages for the opening segment.  The episode itself continues in a variety of languages, showing even more Spongebob Squarepants’ far-reaching popularity.

The “Life Lessons From Bikini Bottom” brings its own entertainment as it is in reality just a character profile of Bikini Bottom’s most beloved (and not so beloved) inhabitants. It’s a relatively short segment, running about five minutes, but is still entertaining thanks to the work of the editors who pieced the program together.  The timing of the profiles and the show clips makes for plenty of laughs even in this short presentation.

The short “Kick-Wham-Pow-Bob” music video, which crosses music from Pantera and video from the series, adds its own enjoyment to the set’s presentation.  No worries about hearing from the band’s former front man either.  The musical portion of the video is all instrumental.  Audiences will recognize the music as the same musical base used in the episode “Prehibernation Week.”

Each of the bonus elements discussed here is an important piece of this set’s presentation in its own way.  All things considered, they show in whole why the set’s bonus material is so important to its overall presentation.  When that material is joined with the set’s episode listing, its related price point, and even that one negative that is the set’s packaging, the whole proves to be a collection that while not perfect, is still enjoyable in its own right.  That packaging prevents it from being the year’s top new DVD or Blu-ray re-issue, but also doesn’t keep it from being one of the year’s best in that category.

Nickelodeon and Paramount’s recent re-issue of Spongebob Squarepants: The First 100 Episodes is one of this year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray re-issues.  That is the case even when one takes into account the set’s problematic packaging.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this set, other Spongebob Squarepants collections and all of the series’ latest news and more is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.nick.com/spongebob-squarepants

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

 

 

 

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Conquest’s ‘Under The Influence’ Is Not Just Another Covers Album

Courtesy:  Dark Star Records

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Early this past April St. Louis, Missouri-based metal outfit Conquest released its latest album Under The Influence.  The forty-three-minute covers album presents eleven songs from some of the band members’ favorite bands.  The songs themselves are, collectively, their own important part of the record’s presentation.  That will be discussed shortly.  They are not the album’s only key element.  The band’s take on the featured songs is just as important to note in this record’s presentation as the songs themselves.  That will be discussed later.  The album’s overall sequencing rounds out the record’s most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the album’s whole.  Altogether all three elements Under The Influence a covers album that any rock fan should hear at least once.  This applies regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Conquest’s body of work.

Covers albums are a dime a dozen nowadays in the music industry.  Nine times out of ten, they are space fillers used between new albums to tide over fans and fulfill contractual obligations for record labels.  Even worse, said albums are commonly thrown together rather haphazardly, much like all of the “hits” albums that are out there.  The end result in both cases are albums (if one even wants to call them albums—note the sarcasm) that are anything but memorable or even worth having in one’s personal music collection.  Enter Under The Influence, the new covers collection from St. Louis, Missouri’s hard rock outfit Conquest.  Unlike all of the covers (and “hits”—technically singles) collections out there on the market today this eleven-song compilation record is one that every rock fan should head at least once.  This applies regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Conquest and its body of work.  The record’s featured covers are in themselves just one of the elements that make this record worth hearing.  That is the case because the songs don’t just come from one of rock’s many sub-genres or another.  Rather it crosses those genres from beginning to end.  It also spans rock’s rich modern history with its presented songs.  It all kicks off with a pair of Judas Priest covers in the form of ‘Metal Gods’ and ‘The Ripper.’  That pair of songs is followed by a cover of Iron Maiden’s beloved ‘Wraith Child.’ The band gets even heavier from there with its own take on Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls.’  Things change even more dramatically in the band’s next offering, a cover of Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades.’  This one comes at just the right moment, too, as it is essentially the album’s midway point.  It isn’t even the album’s most interesting of the record’s inclusions either.  The album’s second half features covers of songs from Bon Jovi, Anthrax, Pantera, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, and even UFO.  To say that that is a broad swath of bands (and songs) would be an understatement.  Simply put, the eleven songs (and bands) that are featured in this covers collection is extremely wide.  The songs are just as diverse in their stylistic approaches as the bands are within their own rock sub-genres.  Keeping that in mind, it becomes clear as to why the songs featured in this record are so important to its presentation.  They don’t subject listeners to just one style of rock.  Rather, they cover so many different styles from so many ages of rock’s rich history.  They make up just one of the record’s most important elements.  The band’s take on each of the featured songs is just as important to note here as the songs themselves.

The songs (and bands) that are featured in Conquest’s new covers collection are collectively their own important part of the record’s presentation.  That is because they lift liberally from rock’s rich modern history.  The songs present a wide range of bands and rock styles from beginning to end.  That is just one part of what makes this record a rare covers collection that is actually worth hearing.  The band’s actual performance of the record’s featured songs is just as important as the songs themselves.  The band’s take on Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ is one of the band’s best performances in this record.  If one were to hear this take on the classic heavy metal tune without knowing it was Conquest, one would actually think that it was Metallica.  The band performed the song verbatim both lyrically and stylistically.  And front man Derrick Brumley may not sound just like James Hetfield circa 1984.  But listeners will be surprised at the similarity in the sound of the singers’ vocals.  The band’s take on ‘Ace of Spades’ is just as impressive.  One could argue in fact, that Conquest’s take on the classic rock anthem is just as good as Motorhead’s original recording.  It doesn’t bear the grittier, garage rock sound presented in Motorhead’s original composition.  But even with that taken into consideration it still pays honor stylistically to the original right down to the song’s familiar up-tempo bass line (handled here by bassist Rob Boyer).  One of the song’s biggest surprises is Brumley’s vocal delivery.  It’s not certain as to whether or not Brumley set out to emulate Lemmy Kilmister in this cover.  But interestingly enough listeners will note that there is a certain element of that gritty sound made so familiar by the late rock legend in Brumley’s own vocal delivery here.  It is a nice touch to the, and especially so if Brumley did not set out to try to sound like Kilmister.  The band’s take on UFO’s ‘Lights Out In London’ is another example of the importance of the band’s performances in this record.  It could actually be argued here that Conquest’s cover is even better than the original.  That is thanks to the bombastic guitar solos, Bruley’s powerhouse vocal delivery, and Tim Fleetwood’s equally solid work behind the kit.  Of course Boyer’s work on the bass here shouldn’t be ignored either.  The whole of the band’s work here makes the band’s take on the song a song that will have make every rocker out there proud.  It is just one more example of what makes the band’s performance of each of the record’s featured songs is just as important as the songs themselves.  They are hardly the record’s only key examples of that importance.  Audiences will take just as much notice of the band’s take on ‘Dead Or Alive’ ‘Wraithchild’ and ‘Cowboys From Hell.’  The prior pair of covers is much more bombastic here in the case of the original songs.  ‘Cowboys From Hell’ on the other hand is a relatively close take on the original.  All three will hold listeners’ ears and have them talking afterward just as much as the other noted covers and those covers not noted here.  All in all, the band’s take on each of the songs featured proves just as pivotal to the record’s presentation as the songs themselves.  They are not the record’s only important elements, though.  The album’s sequencing is just as important to its presentation as the songs and their performances.

The songs that are featured in Conquest’s new covers collection and the band’s take on each song are equally important to the album’s presentation.  The songs are so important to note because of the broad range of influences presented throughout the record’s forty-three minute run time.  The band’s performance of the songs is just as important to note as the songs themselves because of the similarities and differences between the originals and the band’s updated take on each song.  Those similarities and differences are certain to create their own share of interest and discussion among audiences.  As important as each element proves to the record’s whole they are not its only key elements.  The record’s sequencing is just as important to its presentation as those noted elements.  Audiences that pay close attention to the record’s sequencing will note that for the most part the record maintains a relatively solid energy level from beginning to end.  Though, the energy does pick up just enough at given points, so as to maintain listeners’ engagement.  It picks up first just past the record’s halfway point in the form of Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ before puling back just a little bit as the record transitions into its second half.  As the album nears its end the band picks things up once more in the covers of ‘Red Hot’ and ‘Cowboys From Hell’ before finishing off with the slightly slower (slightly at best) but no less heavy ‘Children of the Grave.’  Simply put, the band has balanced the record’s energy and even its varied musical styles from beginning to end thanks to its expert sequencing.  This ensures listeners’ maintained engagement, and in turn, entertainment.  Keeping this in mind, the record’s sequencing shows in the end why it is just as important to its presentation as its songs and performances thereof.  Each element is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, Under The Influence shows in the end to be a rarity of a covers album.  It doesn’t come across as just some contractually obligated space filler.  Rather it proves to be a collection of classic rock songs that Conquest’s fans will enjoy just as much as those of the bands featured throughout the record.  It is a record that succeeds at presenting a solid introduction to rock’s rich modern history all while entertaining rock fans of all ages.  It is a covers collection that is actually worth hearing at least once regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Conquest or its body of work.

Conquest’s latest studio recording Under The Influence is a record that every rock fan should hear at least once.  This applies regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the band or its body of work.  That is because it isn’t just a random, contractually obligated space filler record.  Its eleven songs present a solid introduction to rocks rich modern history.  That is thanks to the broad array of bands and songs that is presented here.  The band’s performance of each song is just as important to the record’s presentation as the songs themselves.  That is because they present new and familiar takes on the classic songs; takes that will keep listeners engaged and generate their own share of discussion among audiences.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.  Over the course of its forty-three minutes, the records sequencing expertly balances the record’s energy from beginning to end.  This ensures just as much listeners’ engagement.  Each element plays its own important part in the record’s presentation.  Altogether they make Under The Influence a record that very rock fan should hear at least once regardless of one’s familiarity with Conquest or its body of work.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Dark Star Records’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from Conquest is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://conquestmetal.com

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

 

 

 

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Conquest Offering Free Song Download

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Independent metal act Conquest is making some of its music available to the masses.

The St. Louis, Missouri-based band, which is signed to Dark Star Records, has made available for free download its cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Children of the Grave.’  It is available here.  But it is only available for a limited time.  It will be available only until next Monday, June 20th.  The band’s cover of the classic tune is included in the band’s album Under The Influence.  Front man Derrick Brumley explained recently where his love for both the song and for Black Sabbbath comes from noting, “These guys started it all. When I was 7 or 8 my brother’s girlfriend brought over their first album and I was completely blown away! She ended up leaving it at our house and it became mine. “Children ..” is the one song that has stuck with me over the years.”

Under The Influence is the tenth full-length studio recording from Conquest and its third for Dark Star Records.  It was released April 8th.  The album is a collection of covers of music from bands that influenced the band’s own members including: Judas Priest, Metallica, Motorhead, Pantera, and (believe it or not) Bon Jovi among many others.  It can be ordered online now direct via Dark Star Records’ online store.  More information on Conquest, it’s new album, free download, live dates, and more is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://conquestmetal.com

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

 

 

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.

Confess’ New Single Presents An Intense And Intensely Positive Message

Courtesy:  Opposite Records

Courtesy: Opposite Records

Generally when one thinks of Iran, one’s thoughts instantly lean towards all of the latest major news headlines–the nation’s deal to curb its nuclear output, terrorism, etc. So it goes without saying that when a band rises from what is said to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world and takes a stand against all of the negativity surrounding its home nation, it is a band well worth hearing. Enter Confess. The Tehran, Iran-based band has just released its latest single ‘See You Other Side.’ And in hearing the song, It is a powerful new statement from the band.

According to its official Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ConfessBand, it takes its influences from the realms of metalcore, NWOAHM, and Thrash. Each of those influences is clear in the band’s new single, which can be heard online now via SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/confess1. Right from the opening bars of the nearly five-minute opus, the band launches into a full on assault that hints at the likes of Hatebreed, The Haunted, Overkill, and a number of others. That is especially thanks to the work of front man and founding member Nikan Khosravi. According to the band’s official Facebook page, Khosravi handles lead vocal duties as well as guitars and bass. If that is indeed him on guitars in this song, then he is to be highly applauded as his work instantly grabs listeners and refuses to let go. It throws back to the great thrash numbers of the late 80s that once made thrash such a great subgenre of the rock world. Khosravi’s vocals are just as intense, conjuring thoughts of the one and only Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Superjoint Ritual) and to a slightly lesser extent, Crowbar frontman Kirk Windstein among others. DJ/sampler/engineer Arash “Chemical” Ilkhani plays his own important role along with the band’s recording drummer Samir “Outsider” Malikoglou. While Ilkhani’s role is not as large in this song as Confess’ other work, it still is important in its own right regardless. All parts combined here, ‘See You Other Side’ proves in regards to its musical content to be a piece that any hardcore fan will appreciate. It shows that great hardcore and great rock in general can come from any part of the world; even the most war-torn corners of the world.

Having noted the impressive nature of ‘See You Other Side’s musical content, the next logical step is to examine the song’s lyrical content. Khosravi noted of the song’s lyrical content that it is meant to be a response to all of the negativity surrounding the communities of the Middle East. They are meant not to be negative but to serve as a starting point to give listeners hope amidst all of the bleakness surrounding them. That is made clear right from the song’s opening verse as Khosravi screams, “Destruction of underestimation/Hope and dreams are weapons of the war/Rejection of conclusion/Wash away your eyes from the tears.” That verse alone speaks volumes. It comes across as saying that amid all of the strife and suffering, hope and dreams can be used to fight all of that negativity. Rejection of conclusion/Wash away your eyes from the tears is just as clear. He comes across as telling listeners to not give in to the sense of hopelessness and desperation brought on by everything going on. The irony here is that while these lyrics may be in response largely to the situation in the Middle East, they could apply just as much to any other part of the world.

The opening verse of ‘See You Other Side’ offers a clear understanding of the message being conveyed by Confess in its latest single. While its lyrics paint a picture that is clear enough, the song’s closing verse makes that message even more obvious as Khosravi screams, “Hating me for being someone’s loved one?/You never know what it feels like when your duty’s done/The negative thirteen/Plus the positive thoughts/My tongue is a trigger/And my brain is a gun/You’d better run/That’s right.” The line in which Khosravi notes a person not knowing “what it feels like” when his or her “duty is done” seems to verbally attack the suicide bombers and their twisted mentalities. His continued thoughts concerning the power of positive thoughts both emotionally and mentally in the verse’s closing line presents a message that is just as optimistic for listeners. That is especially obvious as he writes in the song’s previous verse, “My scars are bleeding out too fast/They are deep/Deep as my last breath/My mind’s bruised/I’ll start first global war of wrath/We feel the same as you/Try to send it back at last.” One can only assume that these lines make reference to the brainwashing that so many younger people in the Middle East go through by those extremist groups. That being assumed, it can be inferred that these lines set against the more optimistic vibe of the song’s closing lines that Khosravi is telling his listeners that they don’t have to listen to that brainwashing; that there is hope out there and better things than what the extremists are trying to get them to do. It is a good final message for fans in this song. Together with the song’s intense musical content, the song’s collective lyrical content makes the song a work that proves that even from the worst situations, great things can rise. It is a message that he entire Middle East needs just as much as other nations of the world. Given the chance, it will spread and it will rise, making itself and the band in whole the push that the world needs to win the war on terror once and for all.

‘See You Other Side’ is a powerful new work from Iran’s Confess. The intensity of the song’s musical content will make any metal purist proud; especially those purists that are fans of the thrash and hardcore realms. The song’s lyrical content gives the song even more punch. Both elements assembled together, they make ‘See You Other Side’ a message that given the chance could inspire listeners both in the band’s home country and in countries around the world and in turn begin to help turn the tide in the war on terror just as much as entertain. Audiences can, again, hear ‘See You Other Side’ now online via SoundCloud at http://www.soundcloud.com/confess1. More information on the band’s new single is available online now along with all of the latest news from the band at http://www.facebook.com/ConfessBand. 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 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.