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

 

 

 

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.

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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

 

 

 

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.

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.

Kill Devil Hill Announces New Drummer

Courtesy:  Street Smart Marketing

Courtesy: Street Smart Marketing

Kill Devil Hill announced this week the addition of former Type o Negative drummer Johnny Kelly to its lineup.  Kelly, who also performs with Danzig and his own band, A Pale Horse Named Death, takes the place of the bands now former drummer, Vinny Appice.

Appice released a statement on his departure.  “It’s been a great musical adventure from the beginning, but the time has now come to go our separate ways and continue to make music that we love,” he said of his decision.

KDH bassist Rex Brown had nothing but good things to say of Appice after Appice’s announcement that he would be departing the band.  “We all have a lot of love and respect for Vinny and have been honored to have jammed with him over the last few years – we wish Vinny well with all his future endeavors, it has been a blast!”

Kelly talked to the press on the announcement expressing his thoughts on taking on drumming duties for the band.  “I’m really excited about coming on board with Kill Devil Hill,” he said.  “I’ve been a fan since their debut and have known the guys for a long-time. It’s also clear that I have some really big shoes to fill. I’m ready for that challenge as I prepare for KDH’s next chapter – this is gonna be a blast!”

Kelly will get his first chance to display his chops live the weekend of Friday, April 4th – Sunday, April 6th.  The band will play Count’s Vamp’d in Las Vegas, NV April 4th.  That show will be followed by a performance at L.A.’s famed Viper Room on Saturday, April 6th and a show at the Gas Lamp in Long Beach, CA on April 6th.  From there, the band will head overseas for a handful of tour dates in Australia with Killswitch Engage from April 11th – 16th.

More information on Johnny Kelly’s addition to the KDH lineup, the band’s tour, its new album and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/KillDevilHillMusic.  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.

Hard Rock Supergroup’s Sophomore Record A Solid Second Effort

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Kill Devil Hill released in its second full length album last year, what proved to be one of 2013’s best Hard Rock/Metal albums.  The hard rock supergroup’s sophomore album is, as the old adage states, all killer and no filler.  What really makes this album so enjoyable for any purist metal head and hard rocker is that it is another of those albums that both new audiences and those that are more familiar with the band’s music will enjoy.  It is one of those albums that eventually will lead listeners to find their own favorite songs over time.  And over time, none of the eleven tracks from which listeners are offered ever lose their luster.  This is obvious right from the album’s opener, ‘No Way Out,’

‘No Way Out’ opens Kill Devil Hill’s second full length studio effort.  This song is a straight forward radio-ready rock song that any open-minded radio programmer will appreciate.  Guitarist Mark Zavon and drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio, Heaven & Hell) drive the song with their full throttle attack.  And bassist Rex Brown’s (Down, Pantera) grinding bass line late in the song gives the song even more depth.  It gives it more of a punch for lack of better wording.  Vocalist Dewey Bragg (Pissing Razors) can’t be ignored here, either.   His vocal style could easily be compared to a number of other well-known rock vocalists as he sings, “Infected by the power of corruption/Put out your fires with gasoline/No respect for the trust you’ve betrayed/You’re headed for the end of the line/Step by step…Justice will be served/The house of cards comes crashing down/Salvation at the end of the line.”  Bragg and company make no bones as to the message being sent here.  Here, audiences get a song about those that let power get the better of themselves.  This is made increasingly clear as Bragg sings in the song’s first verse, “Blinded by the fog of deception/Can’t you see that they’re selling you lies/Getting rich off the profits of others/Freedom’s well runs dry.”  This illustrates even more the topic covered in this song.  And it’s only the beginning from Kill Devil Hill on this album, too.

Another of the interesting points of Revolution Rise comes in the form of ‘Long Way From Home.’  This semi-acoustic song bears quite the Black Label Society.  As a matter of fact, it sounds like it could have come from the recording sessions for Hangover Music Vol. VI.  It obviously didn’t.  But its more reserved sound and introspective lyrics make for a welcome momentary break from the rest of the high octane songs that precede it on this record.  Bragg sings on this song, “Seems like only yesterday/How did I drift so far away/A prisoner of the distant sands of time/The damage done from days gone by/A tangled knot/We can’t untie/Memories we left so far behind/I’m a long way from home now/I’ve been gone so long/Will I ever find a way back to where I belong.” The song crafted here is obviously one of looking back on the past.  This is increasingly obvious in the song’s second verse as he sings, “Would the past forgive me now/If I could travel back somehow/Across the miles/Down that old familiar road/Chasing the stars with no regret/A darkened heart I still can’t forget/The little things we loved so long ago.”  There are those that might instantly say of this song that it’s just a standard song of self-loathing.  But the reality is that everybody has had a moment quite similar to the one (or ones) portrayed in this song.  Some will deny it.  But we have all had at least one such moment.  That ability of the song to reach so many listeners makes it one more of the many great songs that make up Revolution Rise.

Kill Devil Hill offers its fans plenty of reasons to be happy on its new album.  That has already been evidenced in just two examples of the album’s tracks.  For all of its commentary and personal, even Kill Devil Hill isn’t exempt from the standard songs based in issues of personal relationships.  In ‘Endless Static’, Bragg seemingly sings about the kind of lying backstabber that so many listeners have encountered at one point or another in life.  Again, here audiences get another song to which they can easily relate.  And the song’s energy only makes it that much more hard-hitting.  He sings, “Lately I’ve been hearing/You’ve been talkin’ smack/And smilin’ to my face all the while/You’re tellin’ stories like a common crook/As if it all rings true/But I see right through it/Screaming is so dramatic/Dreaming is in the static/All this make-believing makes me laugh out loud/Hiding behind your smile/Drowning in sweet denial…Why can’t you find the guts to say it to my face/Instead of hiding out behind the lies/The truth is I don’t even give a damn/The face of your deception/It’s your reflection.”  No one can deny that they have ever encountered such a person as the one described here.  And everyone can agree that they, too have felt the same kind of anger and aggression toward said person that is presented here.  It’s one more of so many songs that make Revolution Rise a record that any purist hard rock fan will appreciate.

Kill Devil Hill recently finished off a busy tour to finish off 2013.  But fans can always keep up with the latest tour announcements, news, and more from the band on its official website, http://www.killdevilhillmusic.com.  Fans can also go here to order the band’s new album while they wait on the next announcement of new tour dates from the band.  Fans can also get the latest tour dates, news, and more from the band on its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/killdevilhillmusic.  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.comm.