‘The Grinding Wheel’ Shows Overkill Is Still “Grinding” It Out Successfully

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

The countdown to the year’s end is officially on, and that means for the music industry, the push is officially on to start assembling those annual year-end “Best Of” lists.  One of the lists that this critic in particular has seen overflowing with impressive titles is that of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  New releases from the likes of Prong, The Haunted, Dragonforce and so many others have easily proven themselves deserving of a spot on that list by any critic.  No critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums would be complete without the inclusion of Overkill’s latest album the Grinding Wheel.  Released this past February, this 11-song, 64-minute album is an offering that reminds audiences once again why even after more than 30 years, Overkill is still one of the elite acts in the hard rock and metal realms even.  That is even as the band continues to embrace the mantra of if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  The old school thrash riffs that have made the band a constant fan favorite throughout its life combine with equally interesting lyrical content here to prove why this record is one more of the year’s top new hard rock and metal offerings.

Anytime that Overkill releases a new album, it will find its way onto critics’ lists of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.  The New Jersey-based thrash outfit’s 18th (yes, 18th) full-length studio recording The Grinding Wheel is no exception to that rule.  That is proven right from the album’s outset in ‘Mean, Green Killing Machine.’ The song’s arrangement boasts riffs in its verses that easily lend themselves to some of the greatest classic thrash works from fellow thrashers Exodus, Metallica, Megadeth and others of that ilk.  In the same breath, the combination of front man Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth’s vocal delivery with those riffs also conjures thoughts of so many classic Judas Priest songs.  The inclusion of the song’s more blues-based hard rock arrangement in its bridge adds even more interest to the song.  The sudden change between those two wholly separate styles is, needless to say, stark.  Yet at the same time, it still is not enough to ruin the song, musically speaking.  It only makes it that much more interesting.  Keeping that in mind, it is only one part of what makes this song proof of what makes The Grinding Wheel yet another standout record from Overkill.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss as its musical arrangement.

Ellsworth sings here, “Somewhere out where no one knows/Rusts a cool revolution fight/Way out there where no one goes/And it’s got to keep moving/Got to keep getting it right/So here’s to the piston charged/Combustible delight/The single-minded supercharged/That’s got to keep moving/Got to keep getting it/A call to arms/A call right through the dream/A call to action/Blow up the in-between/Feed, feed your engine/Feed, feed the wolverine/Feed, feed the tension/Mean green/Killing machine/C’mon, C’mon say what my name is/Mean green killing machine.”  Ellsworth goes on in the song’s further verses to deliver what seems like commentary perhaps about the world’s religious and business leaders, leading to the belief that perhaps while not a politically charged song, it is a lyrical worked aimed at reminding listeners to not just give in to the things being force-fed to them.  That is just this critic’s own take and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Ellsworth could easily have been making a wholly different statement.  That ability of these lyrics to create so much discussion in itself is even more proof of the importance of the song’s lyrical content.  When that content is joined with the song’s rich musical arrangement, the end result is a song that clearly exhibits what makes The Grinding Wheel yet another solid offering from Overkill.  It is hardly the only of the album’s songs to support that statement.  The album’s title track is one more example of what makes The Grinding Wheel another standout album from one of metal’s true elite acts.

‘The Grinding Wheel’ proves just as much as ‘Mean Green Killing Machine’ what makes Overkill’s latest album so enjoyable in part to its musical arrangement.  As with the previously discussed song, this composition also boasts an arrangement that is pure thrash at its finest.  It lends itself just as easily to comparisons to works from Judas Priest as the album’s opener, too.  Considering this, it goes without saying that this song’s musical arrangement is just as solid as those presented in the rest of the album’s songs.  That being the case, the next sensible step here would be to examine the song’s lyrical content.  This song’s lyrical content is just as intriguing as that in the album’s opener and the record’s other songs.  Ellsworth sings here, “A bed of nails/Cold, dark, deep refrigeration/I hear it calling me/A broken rail as he drools over the congregation/I hear it calling me/Now I won’t tell you how to live your life/I never saw the point in thinking twice/I turn the wheel by day, by night/Raise your flag/Here’s to the liberation.”  The song goes on in similar fashion with equally cryptic statements throughout that are just as certain to leave listeners talking and thinking as the song’s lead verse.  Again, that ability to so easily engage listeners, even just through its lyrical content, is another way in which the song proves an important part of the record’s whole.  When it is joined with the song’s musical arrangement, the two elements in whole support that statement even more.  Even considering this, it still is not the last of the songs included in this record that shows what makes the album stand out.  ‘Shine On,’ which comes early in the album’s run is one more example of what makes the record stand out.

‘Shine On’ is another key example of what makes The Grinding Wheel stand out, as with the previously discussed songs, in part due to its arrangement.  The up-tempo, guitar-driven arrangement.  The arrangement presented here is a polished composition that lends itself directly to comparisons to some of Metallica’s greatest thrash style works.  Even as the song turns more doom-sounding bridge, that slower–yet no less heavy–section is a perfect fit that gives listeners just enough time to catch their collective breaths without losing them.  It is only one part of what makes this song another key addition to The Grinding Wheel.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss as its musical arrangement.

The lyrical content presented in ‘Shine On’ is important to discuss because of its seemingly anthemic nature.  That anthemic nature is inferred, at least to this critic as Ellsworth sings in the song’s chorus, “We got no patience, but we get through/We got no patience, but we got you/All of the paraders shout no fear/All of the hurricaners with their fists up in the air/Someone else gave the order to the band/Someone else ignored us/Left the cat out in the rain/One more fire before I die/One more fire, get me high/Climb on down to the fire/Climb on down to the flame/Leave your battles behind you/Shine on Doomsday/Shine on Doomsday.”  This all comes across as the band paying tribute, lyrically, to its fans, inspiring audiences to never give up on anything in life as they thank their fans for their dedication.  Again, this is only this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Either way, this song’s lyrical content comes across as a loud, proud statement from the band.  When that seemingly loud, proud statement is joined with the song’s equally heavy, driving musical arrangement, the whole of the song shows why it is an important addition to the album’s whole.  When the song is joined with the other songs noted here (and those not noted), the album in whole shows clearly why it is another powerhouse offering from Overkill, and an easy candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Overkills’ 18th full-length studio recording The Grinding Wheel is a presentation of a band that more than 30 years into its life is still successfully grinding it out.  Yes, that awful pun was fully intended.  That is due to the solid, heavy musical arrangements presented throughout the course of the album’s 64-minute run time.  The record’s arrangements are everything that the band’s legions of fans have come to expect from its records throughout the years.  What’s interesting about them here is how polished they sound in each case.  The album’s collective lyrical content will have listeners thinking and talking just as much as its musical arrangements. From seeming commentaries (of sorts) to fist-pumping anthems and points in-between, the songs’ lyrical content gives listeners plenty to be happy about, too.  Keeping thin in mind, The album in whole proves to be a work that any Overkill fan will appreciate and agree deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on The Grinding Wheel is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.wreckingcrew.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OverkillBand

 

 

 

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Tommy Victor Is In His Prime On His Latest Prong Recording

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV Records

Later this month, Prong will release its latest album to the masses, and the record, Zero Days, is one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal offerings.  The record, the 12th full-length studio recording from Tommy Victor and his ever-rotating roster of fellow musicians, is everything that audiences have come to expect from Prong – heavy yet infectious riffs and grooves, and equally hard-hitting lyrical content. That is evidenced early in the album’s run in the form of ‘Divide and Conquer,’ which will be discussed shortly.  The full-on thrash riffs and social commentary of ‘Forced Into Tolerance’ shows just as much as ‘Divide and Conquer’ what makes this record another enjoyable offering from Prong.  It will be discussed later.  ‘Self Righteous Indignation’ also serves, with its musical arrangement and lyrical content, why this record represents everything that Prong’s fans have come to expect from the band.  It is hardly the last of the songs included in this record that serves that purpose, too.  The record boasts 10 other songs that could just as easily be used to show why Prong has crafted another solid offering in Zero Days and why it is.  The whole of the album’s 13 songs shows the album to be, again, one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Veteran hard rock outfit Prong’s latest album Zero Days is everything that Prong’s fans have come to expect from the band and then some.  The album, Tommy Victor’s 12th album under the Prong moniker, utilizes a solid mix of musical arrangements and hard-hitting lyrical content to make it one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

That is evidenced early on in the driving composition ‘Divide And Conquer.’  The melodic hard rock arrangement at the song’s center harkens back to some of the best songs included in the band’s 1996 album Rude Awakening and its forebear, Cleansing (1994).  That is evidenced through the song’s straight forward guitar arrangement and Victor’s own vocal delivery style.  Drummer Art Cruz’s own work behind the kit adds to that feel even more as does that of bassist Mike Longworth.  The whole of those parts makes this arrangement one of the album’s best musical compositions.  The songs’ lyrical content builds on the foundation created by the arrangement and strengthens the song even more.

The lyrical content presented in ‘Divide and Conquer’ strengthens the foundation created through the song’s musical arrangement because it hits just as hard as the arrangement with its commentary. Victor sings in the song’s lead verse, “There’s no relief/There’s just regret/Want to forget/Just can’t believe/Really don’t want any part of that/Just another bad experience/For what’s positive or negative/Maybe it’s all just relative.”  He and his band mates go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “You can’t go through life without these conditions/Divide and conquer/You can always rely on opposition/Face the sorrow/You can’t go through life without some division/Divide and conquer…”  This comes across as a message about accepting the good and bad in life rather than just the good.  This is of course only this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel.  That interpretation is made just as much as Victor sings in the song’s second verse, “You only see what you gotta get/You cannot get what you cannot see/Always forced into compromise/Always have to make the sacrifice/Things are not what they seem to be/Living in a false reality.”  From here the song returns to its chorus before making its way to its end, reminding listeners that negative will always come with positive, and that people should expect both sides in life; that only seeing one side is close-minded.  Again, this is only this critic’s own interpretation.  Hopefully it is somewhere in the ballpark of being right.  Regardless, it can be agreed by everyone that whatever the message, it definitely is hard-hitting.  When that message is coupled with the song’s driving musical arrangement, the urgency of understanding the message is driven home even more, making this song both musically and lyrically a work that so many people (especially in today’s world) should hear, proving why it is such an important addition to Zero Days.  It is not the album’s only stand out song.  ‘Forced Into Tolerance’ is another of the songs that serves to show why Zero Days is another solid offering from Prong, despite what some critics might have people believe.

‘Divide and Conquer’ is one of the best examples of how much Tommy Victor and company have to offer audiences on its latest album Zero Days.  Its driving musical arrangement and equally hard-hitting lyrical content couple to make the song a work that will entertain audiences while also leaving them thinking quite a bit.  The impact from the song’s musical and lyrical content makes it only one of the album’s best additions.  ‘Forced Into Tolerance’ hits just as hard as ‘Divide and Conquer.’  Just as with the aforementioned work, that is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement, which instantly conjures thoughts of Slayer, Hatebreed and others of that ilk.  That speaks for itself.  Considering that, the next step here is to examine the song’s lyrical content, which at least to this critic seems to be a commentary about the bigotry and racism that has become far too prevalent across the nation ever since the rise to power of the nation’s current “leader.”  That is inferred right off the top as Victor sings, “Forced into tolerance of what we disdain/Being irrational is how we exist/Someone goes around and it makes no sense/They are labeled and then disgraced/Caught in the ignorance and try to explain.”  He goes on to bring out the foolishness of the hateful views that are being expressed by singing, “I don’t care if you exist…Don’t f****** tell me it is what it is.”  He goes on in similar fashion from here with the same musical and lyrical fire, indicting those close-minded masses of the nation (and the world possibly) pointing out the dangers of their views, and the foolishness of those views.  It is a powerful statement both musically and lyrically that will be timely as long as such people and views exist in the world.  Considering this, it is clearly evident why this song is so important to the overall presentation of Prong’s new album. It is not the last of the record’s key compositions either.  ‘Self Righteous Indignation’ is yet another of the album’s most important songs.

‘Divide and Conquer’ and ‘Forced Into Tolerance’ are both key additions to Prong’s 12th full-length studio recording.  That is thanks to the songs’ powerhouse musical arrangements and the equally hard-hitting commentaries contained within each song.  The whole of those elements within each song makes each song a clear example of what makes Zero Days such a strong new effort from Prong.  They are not the album’s only key works, though.  ‘Self Righteous Indignation’ is yet another of the album’s most important works.  As with the previously discussed songs, that is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement, which can easily be compared to works from the likes of Fear Factory, White Chapel and other similar acts with its heavy, crunching, down-tuned guitars, pounding drums and equally heavy bass line.  Keeping this in mind, it is only one part of what makes the song stand out so distinctly from the record’s other tracks.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical arrangement.

The lyrical content presented in ‘Self Righteous Indignation’ seems to this critic at least as a commentary about those people who think themselves so much better than everyone else.  That is inferred as Victor sings in the song’s lead verse, “A victim/Of the system/Who gives a damn about your needs/Won’t listen/To criticism/Disgust for everyone who cheats/My heart is cold/I cannot pray/I can’t look way/What may unfold/Your dismay/Just total disdain/Self/Righteous/Indignation.”  That seeming commentary continues in the song’s second verse as Victor sings, “No wisdom/So distant/A great sense of psychic grief/existence/Of symptoms/distaste for everything that’s cheap/It’s always known/All the demands/The helping hands/have no control/What you don’t have/Gets way out of hand.”  Once again, this is all just this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  It only seems to this critic that this song, lyrically, addresses those people who have that unnecessary God complex of sorts.  Sadly, there are far too many people of this sort around the world, and if that is indeed what Victor is addressing here, he does quite the job of addressing the matter.  Keeping that in mind, the song’s musical arrangement expertly couples with the power in the song’s lyrics and Victor’s own powerhouse vocal delivery.  It delivers a message of pure anger aimed at those people in question; a message that, again if that is the intended message, definitely hits home in a big way, showing once more why this song is such a key addition to Zero Days.  It is hardly the last of the songs that could be examined to show what makes Zero Days such a strong new effort from Prong.  Any of the other 10 songs that fill out the rest of the album could be examined just as easily as this work and the previously discussed works.  Considering this, the whole of this record shows Prong at its prime; a work that will definitely impress any of the band’s fans new or old.  They make the record a work that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Prong’s latest full-length studio recording Zero Days shows Tommy Victor at his prime along with the band that he founded so many years ago.  It is a record that shows despite all of the band’s lineup and label changes, is still as relevant and powerful today as it was in its infancy.  That is exhibited from start to finish through the album’s powerhouse musical arrangements and its equally hard-hitting lyrical content.  The two elements together make the album in whole one of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  It will be available Friday, July 28 via Steamhammer/SPV Records.  More information on Zero Days is available online now along with all of Prong’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.prongmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/prongmusic

 

 

 

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Ellefson Partners With Pro Tone Pedals To Release New Pedal

Courtesy: Pro Tone Pedals

Courtesy: Pro Tone Pedals

Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson does not rest easily on his laurels.

The musician turned entrepreneur announced this week a new partnership with Pro Tone Pedals to create a new guitar pedal.  The pedal, dubbed the “Dawn Patrol Chorus,” came to being after Pro Tone Pedals representatives approached Ellefson and proposed the idea.

Ellefson stressed the new, signature pedal will be a welcome addition to any bassist’s resources, adding he already used the company’s “Chorus” pedals when the organization’s representatives came to him with the idea.

“When Pro Tone approached me with the idea of making some signature pedals,as a bass player, Chorus is one of my go-to effects live, an ace weapon in my arsenal, and in many regards, helped me transition to my signature tone from studio to live on classics like ‘Dawn Patrol,’ Ellefson said.  “So the idea of developing a great chorus pedal was really a no brainer.  Dennis and the Pro Tone team are technical wizards and developed the Dawn Patrol to my exact specifications, and together we’ve developed a high quality, hand-built stompbox pedal that I’m positive will find a special place in any bassist’s rig.”

Ellefson’s new partnership with Pro Tone Pedals makes him just the latest name to make the company live up to its name.  Animals as Leaders bassist Tosin Abasi and Reeves Gabrels use the company’s signature pedals.  Jeff Loomis, Fear Factory, Alice in Chains, Prong, Deftones, Living Colour, Overkill, 30 Seconds to Mars and many others also use the company’s products.

Pro Tone Pedals was founded in 2004.  The company, now based in Charleston, South Carolina, has developed its reputation from making custom designed pedals.  Its employees’ dedication to customer service has garnered it affiliations with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Arch Enemy, Whitechapel, the Cure, Fear Factory, Ministry, Prong, Overkill and others.

The Dawn Patrol Chorus will be available at an introductory price of $189.99.  More information on the new pedal is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.protonepedals.com/ellefson

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

 

 

 

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

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

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

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

 

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

 

  1. Amon AmarthJomsviking

 

  1. MetallicaHardwiredTo SelfDestruct

 

  1. All Hail The YetiScreams From A Black Wilderness

 

  1. NonpointThe Poison Red

 

  1. SpellcasterNight Hides The World

 

  1. WovenwarHonor is Dead

 

  1. ArtilleryPunishment By Perception

 

  1. ProngXNo Absolutes

 

  1. AnthraxFor All Kings

 

  1. DestrageA Means To No End

 

  1. WhitechapelMark of the Blade

 

  1. DevildriverTrust No One

 

  1. Oni – Ironshore

 

  1. Primal FearRulebreaker

 

  1. HatebreedThe Concrete Confesional

 

 

 

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Goth, Industrial Fans Will “Celebrate” ‘The Ghost Parade’

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

This past October, underground industrial/goth metal outfit Gabriel and the Apocalypse released its latest full-length studio recording The Ghost Parade.  The Minneapolis, MN-based quintet’s new record is a good fit for anyone that is a fan of Otep and to a lesser extent Prong, Nine Inch Nails and other acts of that ilk.  That is due both to the album’s musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  The songs mix together Nine Inch Nails’ industrial elements with the hard-edged sound of Prong and Otep (even front woman Lindy Gabriel sounds eerily like Otep front woman Otep Shamaya at points) for a record that musically speaking, will easily entertain its key audiences.  Lyrically speaking, the record covers a number of topics, too including politics, world issues and more.  All things considered The Ghost Parade is a record that Gabriel and the Apocalypse’s fans will soundly celebrate.

Gabriel and the Apocalypse’s latest full-length studio recording (and its Pavement Entertainment debut) Ghost Parade is a record that the underground goth/industrial act’s fans are sure to celebrate.  Between its musical arrangements and its lyrical content, it presents plenty for fans to appreciate.  The album’s opener ‘March Of The Dolls’ is a prime example of how the album’s musical arrangements and lyrical content come together to make the album stand out.  In regards to its musical arrangement, the song is a powerhouse composition with a sound that takes the best elements of Otep, Fear Factory and (believe it or not) Type O Negative and binds them together into one work.  The end result is a work that will surprise audiences in the best way possible.  That is because of the manner in which the arrangement balances those elements.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘March of The Dolls’ is important in its own right to the song’s overall presentation.  It balances a number of different influences throughout the course of its nearly three-and-a-half-minute run time, and does so expertly, too.  That in itself is certain to keep audiences entertained.  While the song’s musical arrangement plays its own important role in its presentation, it is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.  Gabriel sings in the song’s lead verse, “You want/You need/To beg and to please/Get on/Your knees/I’ll make you believe/I want/I need/I love/The taste/My sweat/Is smeared across your face/My god/My god/It’s all/The same/Another sinful/Another save/But I can’t/Resist/Cuts down my wrist/I put it back together/What matters is the ending.”  It’s a rather dark statement to say the very least.  What is interesting here, though is that considering such a statement, it would have been easy for the band to go more in the standard, brooding goth direction with the song’s arrangement.  But instead it went the aggressive route.  In hindsight it seems to serve the defiance seemingly exhibited in that lead verse.  The song’s second verse is very similar to its first with only one real minor change, which comes in the end of the verse.  The real power that matches the song’s musical arrangement comes in the song’s final moments as Gabriel sings, “I’ve found myself…in the Ghost Parade…What do you think of me now?”  That last group of lines is especially interesting because it has been noted that The Ghost Parade is a personal record for the band’s front woman.  That final statement perhaps illustrates how personal it is for her.  It is almost as if she is saying through this song, she has grown and become someone new through all of the negativity that she has experienced in life, so “how do you like her now?”  It is a bold, powerful statement that when coupled with the song’s musical arrangement becomes even harder hitting.  Considering this the song in whole proves to be just one example of what makes The Ghost Parade a record that the band’s fans will celebrate.

‘March of the Dolls,’ with its powerhouse musical arrangement and equally interesting lyrical content is solid proof of why Gabriel and the Apocalypse’s fans will celebrate the band’s new album The Ghost Parade.  It is just one of the songs that serves to show what makes the album stand out. ‘Colour of Winter’ is another of the album’s songs that serves to make it stand out.  This song is the polar opposite of ‘March of the Dolls’ both in terms of its musical arrangement and its lyrical content.  Speaking first about its musical arrangement, this piece is that dark, brooding composition that goth fans will appreciate.  It is driven largely by the work of drummer Zach Williams and guitarists Jake LaCore and Joey Connelly.  Keyboardist Figgles McGee (no, that’s not a joke) adds an extra touch to the song, too.  The end result is a work that instantly conjures thoughts of works composed by Marilyn Manson and his band mates.  That is especially the case when Gabriel’s vocal delivery is joined with the work of her band mates.  It is only one part of the song that should be discussed.  The song’s lyrical content adds even more depth to its presentation.

The brooding musical arrangement at the heart of ‘Colour of Winter’ is its own key element to the song’s presentation.  As noted already, the combination of Gabriel’s vocal delivery and the work of her band mates gives the song a feel that instantly conjures thoughts of Marilyn Manson.  The brooding doesn’t end with the song’s musical arrangement, though.  There is just as much of that in the song’s lyrical content, too.  Gabriel sings right off the bat in such morose fashion, “I’m alone in the world today/I can’t take it/But I feel it anyway/It’s not enough that it was/It’s not enough cause it’s gone/I can’t breathe/I can’t stay here/I’ll numb myself all the way.  She goes on to sing about “burning yesterday,” “sinking into the void” and other brooding matters.  Simply put, there’s a lot of deep emotion expressed in this song’s lyrical content; emotion that, again, goth fans will appreciate.  When that deep emotion is set against the song’s equally brooding musical arrangement, the end result is one more of the album’s most standout compositions.  It is one more song that shows why fans of Gabriel and the Apocalypse will celebrate this record just as much as goth and industrial fans.  There are still other songs that serve to support that statement, too, including ‘Mazarine.’

‘March of the Dolls’ and ‘Colour of Winter’ are both key examples of what makes the Ghost Parade a record that Gabriel and the Apocalypse’s fans will celebrate.  That is due to the songs’ musical arrangements and their lyrical content.  Each song presents its own identity through its arrangement.  One arrangement is an aggressive, full-force composition that greatly enhances the defiant statement presented in the song’s lyrical content.  ‘Colour of Winter’ is the polar opposite (no pun intended) of ‘March of the Dolls.’  Both musically and lyrically, this song is the kind of work that any goth fan will appreciate just as much as the band’s more seasoned fans.  While both songs show clearly through their musical and lyrical content what makes The Ghost Parade a piece that audiences will celebrate, they are not the only songs that will do so.  ‘Mazarine’ shows in its own unique way what makes The Ghost Parade stand out, too, beginning with its musical arrangement.  This song’s arrangement is a mid-level hard rock piece that boasts a hard rock/industrial hybrid sound.  It isn’t the full-throttle piece that is presented in ‘March of the Dolls’ or even the more brooding ‘Colour of Winter.’  Rather it could be argued to be the closest to mainstream accessibility that the band reaches in this album.  Keeping that in mind, this arrangement could be the best chance that the band has at mainstream success in this album.  Of course the song’s arrangement is just one half of what makes the song stand out, just as with the other discussed songs.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘Mazarine’ is a key part of what makes this song stand out.  It is perhaps the closest that the band comes to mainstream accessibility with its new album.  As important as the song’s arrangement is to its presentation, its lyrical content proves to be important in its own right.  Lyrically speaking, it will likely have audiences thinking and talking more than any other of the album’s songs.  At one point she sings what seems like an ode to someone else, but at other times the song seems to touch on a wholly different matter.  When that metaphorical language is coupled with the song’s semi-mainstream musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes a work that would fit easily alongside the likes of Lacuna Coil, Evanesence and so many other more mainstream goth/industrial acts.  It is just one more example of what makes The Ghost Parade stand out.  When it is joined with ‘March of the Dolls,’ ‘Colour of Winter’ and the rest of the album’s offerings, the album in who proves without a doubt to be, again, a work that goth and industrial fans in general will appreciate just as much as the band’s more seasoned fans.

The Ghost Parade is a work that regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Gabriel and the Apocalypse, will appeal to goth and industrial fans in general just as much as it will the band’s more seasoned fans.  That is evident through all three of the songs discussed here.  It is also evident in the album’s other offering.  All things considered, The Ghost Parade is a work that goth and industrial fans will celebrate” right alongside the band’s fans.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on The Ghost Parade is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.gabrielandtheapocalypse.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/GATA_band

 

 

 

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Metal Purists Will Appreciate UDR Music’s Wacken 2015 Recording

Courtesy: UDR Music

Courtesy: UDR Music

The Wacken Open Air Festival is one of the most renowned hard rock concert festivals if the music industry.  The festival started 26 years ago in the city after which it is named.  Late this summer UDR Music celebrated the festivals 25th anniversary – marked in 2015 – with the release of the festival’s 25th anniversary recording.  Considering that the recording presents the show lineup from the festival’s 25th anniversary, its title is a little bit misleading.  That aside, it is still an enjoyable experience for any purist member of the metal nation worldwide.  That is due in no small part to the lineup presented in the recording.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bands’ performances are just as important to note in the recording’s presentation as is the recording’s presented lineup.  That will be discussed later.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available rounds out the most important of the recording’s elements.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the recording’s presentation.  All things considered, Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of this year’s top new overall live recordings.

Live at Wacken 2015 – ­26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of 2016’s top new overall live recordings.  It is hardly the first live recording that the festival’s organizers have ever released.  Even with that in mind, it is still an enjoyable recording for the festival’s fans and for the purist metal legions around the world.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s featured performer list.  A total of 107 bands performed on Wacken 2015 between the Bullhead City Circus, Party Stage and double main stage.  It goes without saying that considering that mass of metal, there’s no way that UDR or the fesitval’s organizers could have possibly featured every one of those bands.  Regardless, the featured performer list included in this recording is still impressive in its own right.  That list includes the likes of Judas Priest, Danko Jones, Uli Jon Roth, In Flames, Annihilator and so many others.  Simply put, the perfomer list featured in this recording pulls from a number of metal’s sub genres and from so many eras of metal’s history.  It goes to show the respect that the festival’s organizers and fans have for metal, its history and culture.  Sure, it would have been nice to have Dream Theater included in the featured performer list, or maybe Hellyeah, or even Prong (yes, even Prong performed at Wacken 2015).  But the performer list included in this recording is still impressive in its own right in the end.  Considering this, it should be clear why it is such an important piece of the recording’s presentation.  It is just one of the important elements to note.  The featured acts’ stage presence in their performances is just as important to note here as the acts themselves.

The acts that are featured in UDR Music’s new Wacken Open Air Festival recording are important in their own right to the recording’s overall presentation.  That is because while hardly every one of the bands that performed at the festival, they represent a wide swatch of the metal community and its history.  That means the recording will reach just as wide of an audience.  While the recording’s featured performer list is clearly an important piece of the recording’s presentation, it is hardly the recording’s only important element.  The bands’ stage presence in their performances plays an important part in the recording’s presentation, too.  Rob Halford and company prove the importance of the bands’ performances right from the recording’s outset.  They take the stage and own it with ease.  Halford is at the top of his game both in terms of his vocal talent and his very presence.  Glenn Tipton is just as enjoyable to take in as he works his way through the band’s performance of ‘Painkiller.  On another note, the members of Running Wild are just as impressive as they work through the high-octane ‘Under The Jolly Roger.’  Skindred’s performance of ‘Proceed With Caution’ will have home audiences on their feet just as easily as it did the audience in attendance of the festival.  That is because of the fire and energy exuded by the band throughout its performance.  It is just one more example of the importance of the bands’ performance to the festival recording’s presentation.  One could just as easily cite the performances from My Dying Bride, In Flames, and Death Angel as proof of that importance, too.  All things considered, it is safe to say that every single performance featured in this recording will keep home audiences just as entertained and engaged as the audiences that got to enjoy the festival in person.  Even with all of this in mind, the bands’ performances still are not the last element to note in examining this recording.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available are just as important to note as the previously discussed elements.

The bands that were featured in Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell and their performances are both key elements in examining the festival’s recording.  The featured performer list presents the past, present and future of metal while also presenting a solid cross-section proving what has made the festival so respected for now 26 years.  The featured bands’ performances are so important to note because they will keep home audiences just as entertained and engaged as the audiences who had the honor of experiencing the festival in person.  While both elements are clearly important both alone and collectively to the recording’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The platforms on which the recording has been made available are just as important to note as the previously noted elements.  Audiences will be happy to know that the recording has been made available on separate 2 DVD/2 CD and 2 BD/2 CD combo pack.  The DVD set averages approximately $22 and the BD set $23.  Considering that, the various platforms and their prices are relatively affordable for audiences.  The only downside to the sets is that their set lists don’t exactly match.  Not every song featured in the recording’s DVD and BD presentation is included in the recording’s CD platform.  To that end, it is the recording’s only major negative, which is actually a good thing.  That means that the recording’s varied platforms and other discussed elements more than make up for that one negative, as unavoidable as it is to note.  All things considered, Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell proves in the bigger picture to be one of 2016’s top new live recordings as well as one of the year’s top new live DVD/BDs and CDs.  It is available now in stores and online.

Live at Wacken 2015 26 Years Louder Than Hell is one of 2016’s top new live recordings.  That is the case even considering that it does have at least one unavoidable negative.  The recording’s featured performer list and the featured acts’ performances partner with the varied platforms on which the recording has been made available to make the recording an enjoyable experience for any purist member of the metal nation worldwide.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from UDR Music is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.udr-music.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/udrmusic

 

 

 

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Prong’s Latest LP Is “Absolutely” One Of 2016’s Best New Hard Rock And Metal Albums

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPC

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPC

2015 was quite the busy year for the hard rock and metal community. From the year’s opening to its end there was little downtime for hard rock and metal fans. New albums from the likes of Slayer, Sevendust, and Between The Buried and Me, and new EPs from the likes of Amaranthe, The Devil Wears Prada, and Adrenaline Mob kept those noted audiences entertained. And they are just a small sample of all of the hard rock and metal albums that were released last year. Now with the New Year upon us the hard rock and metal community have picked right back up where they left off last year. Already new releases from the likes of Primal Fear, Dream Theater, Anthrax, and Megadeth are set to be released in the next few weeks or so. Even Metallica allegedly has a new album in the works. Though at the time of this post it has no set release date. So while the weekly sales ads from Best Buy and Target are typically bare around this time of year in terms of new music releases, that emptiness is deceiving at least to a point. There are already plenty of records due out before the usual March push. One of those records not already noted comes from veteran guitarist/vocalist Tommy Victor. The album X – No Absolutes is Victor’s latest release under the Prong moniker. The album bears an ironic title. That is because it is absolutely a great start to 2016 for Victor and his current band mates and for the hard rock and metal community in whole. The main reason that this record is such a great start to the year both for Prong and for the hard rock and metal community is the album’s musical content. That will be discussed at more length shortly. The lyrical content presented throughout the thirteen-song record is just as important to the record’s whole. Victor presents some interesting concepts in each of the record’s compositions in terms of their lyrical content. The combination of both noted elements makes X – No Absolutes a record that is absolutely some of Tommy Victor’s best work to date as the lead creative force behind Prong. Of course they are just part of what makes this record so impressive. The album’s overall sequencing rounds out its presentation. The solid sequencing will keep listeners engaged from start to finish. That is thanks to the fact that the album’s energy barely lets up save for a couple of points. That will be touched on at more length later. All things considered X – No Absolutes proves in the end to be a record that is absolutely one of Prong’s best records to date and one of the year’s absolutely best new hard rock and metal albums.

Prong’s latest full-length studio recording is an aptly titled album. That is because despite its title, it is a record that is full of absolutes. It is absolutely one of the band’s best albums to date. That is thanks in large part to founding member and front man Tommy Victor’s attention to detail. Being absolutely one of the band’s best albums to date, it is also an absolutely easy choice for any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums even though the year has just started. The main way in which it proves itself to be such an impressive new album is its overall musical makeup. Whether or not audiences are familiar with Prong’s extensive body of work–front man/founder Tommy Victor has released ten full-length albums, one cover album, at least two live recordings, and any number of singles and EPs–they will find that in terms of its musical makeup there is plenty to like about the album’s musical content. From start to finish, this record is loaded with plenty of old school thrash riffs a la Anthrax, Metallica, and Megadeth. There is also a more modern sound somewhat akin to perhaps that of Fear Factory in the form of ‘Belief System.’ Listeners will note that similarity thanks to the song’s heavy, crunching, down-tuned guitars and equally pummeling drums and bass line. For all of the full-on energy presented over the course of Prong’s new album there is at least one moment that stands out here. That moment comes in the form of the album’s mid-point ‘Do Nothing.’ In comparison to the rest of the album’s offerings, this melodic hard rock piece is reserved in comparison to the rest of the album’s offerings and in comparison to every other song that Victor has composed for and included in Prong’s previous records. Considering this it could be said of this song that it is the most radio-friendly Prong song that Victor has ever composed. It could be the song that finally breaks Prong into the mainstream after so many years. Of course that is provided it gets the right support from rock radio programmers. The same can be said of ‘With Dignity.’ This song boasts a very mainstream sound unlike anything that Victor has composed for any of Prong’s previous albums. If the noted sounds aren’t enough for fans, there is still plenty more to like such as ‘Ice Runs Through My Veins.’ This song’s sound would make it a good fit on Prong’s 1996 album Rude Awakening.’ ‘Worth Pursuing’ takes listeners way back to the days of ‘Prove You Wrong’ and ‘Beg To Differ’ as will ‘Without Words.’ Regardless of which song(s) listeners choose as their favorite(s) from this record, it can be said of the album’s varied sounds more than make it an album that every Prong fan should have in his or her own music library. Collectively, the various sounds presented throughout this album prove to be just one part of what makes X – No Absolutes absolutely some of Tommy Victor’s best work to date and the album in whole one of Prong’s best albums to date. Of course they are just part of what makes it such an impressive album. The album’s lyrical content is just as important to its overall presentation as its musical content.

The musical content presented throughout the course of X – No Absolutes is an undeniably important part of the album’s overall presentation. There is material that will take audiences back to Prong’s earlier years alongside more modern, mainstream material. There’s even plenty of old school thrash metal for listeners regardless of their familiarity with the band’s body of work. All of that material gives listeners more than enough to appreciate about this album. Of course it is just part of what makes X – No Absolutes an absolutely impressive new album from Prong. The album’s lyrical content plays just as important of a part in its presentation as its musical makeup. That is evident right from the album’s opener ‘Ultimate Authority.’ In terms of its lyrical content, it comes across as something of a socio-politically charged piece. That can be argued thanks to Victor singing in the song’s chorus, “The consequences of the will of the right/Disharmony within the law of the light/Deserving everything that you’re owed…The ultimate authority/Correction that is due.” He goes on to sing in the chorus’ reprise, “Ultimate authority/You’re exceptions to the rule/Ultimate authority/Corruption that is due/Ultimate authority.” While these aren’t the song’s only lyrics, they do paint a picture that is vivid enough to leave listeners talking. The picture in question definitely seems to lean in the direction of it being that of a commentary. That is just this critic’s own interpretation of course. So it should not necessarily be taken as gospel. It could easily be centered on another topic. Regardless, the fact that Victor could craft such a thought-provoking set of lyrics here is more than enough proof of why its lyrical content is just as important to the song (and the album in whole) as its musical content.

The lyrical content behind ‘Belief System’ is another example of why this album’s lyrical content is just as important to its overall presentation as its musical content. Musically speaking, this is a heavy song very much in the vein of Fear Factory and other acts of that ilk. The song’s lyrical content sees (or hears) Victor singing, “The will to survive/Ever striving/The will to succeed/Forever climbing/Never arriving/To fulfill my need/There’s no defeat/There’s no retreat/I must to succeed/No compromising…something to believe in/There’s no retreat.” This is just one part of the song’s lyrical make up. but it leaves little to no doubt as to the message that Victor is trying to get across here. It is a message of self-determination. It tells listeners to never give up in life no matter what. There is always something to believe in. Such a positive message coupled with equally fiery musical content makes this song an even harder-hitting piece that is certain to be a fan favorite.

‘Belief System’ and ‘Ultimate Authority’ both show in their own way why the lyrical content presented throughout Prong’s new record is such an important part to the album’s overall presentation. Both take on different topics. And both do so in relatively clear fashion, too. It shows that Victor doesn’t stick to just one topic or another at any point throughout the album. This remains the case throughout the record, too. ‘With Dignity’ proves that. Victor sings in this song, “Somehow I will find a way/Somehow I will find escape/I’ll find a way/Won’t attach myself again…I’ll find a way not to entice myself again/Somehow I’ll find a way…How do you summarize/That you’ve been living a lie/Walk away with dignity/It’s best to step aside/Fight for a better life/And reappear/Walk away with dignity.” These deeply introspective lines alone are certain to generate their own share of discussion among listeners. Is this Victor coming from some personal experience or is it something else? He goes on to sing, “Right here I hope to remain/Right here I am not afraid/Hope to remain in a place that will amaze/Into a place that we came/Replacing all that you say/I hope to remain in a state that’s self-contained.” These lines make this song come across as a rather personal composition. It would definitely be interesting to hear from Victor himself to learn the exact topic at its center. It almost comes across as Victor writing (and singing) about having been in a very tough place in life at one point and just needing to step away and gather himself before making his return. Once again, this is only the interpretation of this critic. It does not mean that this interpretation is the right or only interpretation. With any luck it will prove to be the correct interpretation. Regardless, the fact that it is such a deep piece in terms of its lyrical content shows once more why the album’s overall lyrical content is just as important as its musical content. It is hardly the only remaining example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, too. Any of the other ten songs presented in this album could be cited as examples of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, too. Together with the album’s musical content, both elements show clearly why X – No Absolutes is absolutely an easy, early pick for this year’s best new hard rock and metal albums and why it is also absolutely one of Prong’s best records to date. Of course it still is not the only remaining element to note in the album’s presentation. The album’s sequencing is just as important to note as its musical and lyrical content.

The musical and lyrical content presented over the course of Prong’s new album are both key elements in the album’s overall presentation. While they are both important to the album’s presentation in their own way, they are just part of the album’s presentation. Its sequencing cannot be ignored in a close examination. As previously noted, Prong offers something old and something new in its new album both in terms of its musical and lyrical content. That mix of material is balanced quite well from beginning to end, too. The balance of the album’s heavier, more adrenaline-fueled musical content to its more ” reserved, mainstream” sound keeps the energy at just the right levels throughout. The lyrical content presented in each song will keep listeners just as engaged. That is because Victor tackles so many different topics from one song to the next, never sitting too long on just one topic. Because he doesn’t, he leaves listeners waiting to hear what is in store next. In turn, listeners will remain just as engaged as they will with the album’s musical side. Keeping all of this in mind X – No Absolutes presents to listeners an album that is almost unlike anything that Tommy Victor has ever presented under the Prong moniker. That is not a bad thing, though. It is an album that presents the band at its most focused point. That focus reveals an album that is one of Prong’s best records to date and a record that is absolutely an easy, early pick for this year’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and heavy metal albums.

Tommy Victor and his current band mates in Prong have crafted in its new album X – No Absolutes a record that is rather ironically titled. That is because it is an album almost unlike anything that the band’s fans have ever heard from Tommy Victor. That is just as obvious in the album’s musical content, which presents familiar older sounds as well as more modern and even mainstream, radio ready songs throughout its thirteen-song body. The album’s musical content gives audiences something relatively new, too. That is because the topics presented throughout the record run the gamut from seemingly very personal (as in ‘With Dignity’) to the socio-political in the album’s opener ‘Ultimate Authority’ to the positive in ‘Belief System’ and points in between along the way. The sequencing of all of this material rounds out the record’s presentation. The album’s solid sequencing keeps the album’s energy expertly balanced from one song to the next. That applies mainly to the album’s musical content. The album’s sequencing even plays into the album’s lyrical content. The topics that are presented and their energy will keep listeners just as engaged as the songs’ musical content. The end result of that attention to detail results in an album that will keep listeners engaged from beginning to end. In listening to the album all the way through, listeners will agree that regardless of their familiarity with Prong’s body of work, this work is some of the band’s best work to date and absolutely one of the year’s best new hard rock and metal offerings. X – No Absolutes will be available Friday, February 5th. More information on the album is available online along with all of Prong’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.prongmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/prongmusic

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.