‘Hypoxia’ Is An Imperfect But Enjoyable New Offering From Projected

Courtesy: Rat Pak Records

More than four years after the release of its sophomore album, Ignite My Insanity, hard rock super group Projected returned last month with that record’s follow-up, Hypoxia.  Released June 24 through Rat Pak Records (which released the band’s first two albums, too), the 13-song (14 in the expanded edition) is an intriguing new offering from the group, which is composed of Sevendust members John Connolly and Vince Hornsby, Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips, and Tremonti guitarist Eric Friedman.  That is due in large part to its featured lyrical content, which will be discussed shortly.  While the record’s lyrical content ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment, its musical content is sadly imperfect.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production works with the lyrical content and musical content together to make the record a presentation that while imperfect, is still worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia, the third studio recording from hard rock super group Projected, is an interesting new offering from the quintet.  Its interest comes in large part through its lyrical content.  The album’s title track, which comes almost halfway through the record, does well to support that statement.  The song is a social commentary about people’s divisive interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Connolly talked about the theme and how it related not only to the song but the album in whole, saying, “When the pandemic happened, everybody was on social media all of the time. People were going off on each other and the whole world got crazy. It was 100% hypoxia.  Everyone was talking and nobody was listening.  I had to get off socials awhile because it messes your mood up.” 

This discussion is addressed directly in the album’s title track as Connolly sings, “Why is it every time that I hear you lie/You’ve got nothing to say to make your case/Why is it all the time that I hear you whine/You’ve got no one to blame/You’re sucking out the oxygen/You’re wasting all my oxygen/You’re sucking out the oxygen/You’re wasting all my oxygen/Talking to you makes my head go numb/Bring on your halfwit/Come on, come on with it/Hypoxia/Trying to deal with you makes me come undone/Here comes some bulls***/Come on, come on with it.”  This is that back and forth that Connolly was addressing.  The commentary continues in the song’s second verse as Connolly continues, “How do you find a way to spew meaningless hate/Youv’e got something to say every day/How can you live this way?”  Again, this is that commentary.  Just as Connolly said, this type of behavior really has happened ever since the pandemic happened and sadly is still happening to this day.  To that end, this is a theme and commentary that is certain to resonate with plenty of audiences.

On another note, ‘Stain,’ which is another of the album’s singles, presents its own engaging lyrical content.  In the case of this song, it comes across as being less about social media and more of a familiar commentary about someone who is in a rough place in life. A crossroads so to speak.  This is inferred as Connolly sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Love stains an everlasting hope/Hate burns a never-ending hole/Preacher man told me I should pray to God/But heaven seems such a long way to go/So I pray/If I had one last chance to change it/I’d give the world my best to save it/If I had no regrets to stain it/I’d give my everything to love again.”  This simple verse pretty much comes right out and makes the inferred theme clear.  This is someone who wants to believe people and be happy but finds it difficult to do so because those hopes and dreams have been damaged so much, clearly.  The inferred theme is continued in the song’s second verse as Connolly sings, “Spit out just exactly what you want me to be/The road I travel’s getting darker day by day/I don’t want to hear your lies/Take everything I have to give/So I pray.”  Yet again this is someone being at the pivotal moment, just wanting to know want someone(s) want him/her to be.  This is a situation in which so many audiences have found and find themselves daily.  To that point, it is a theme that will resonate just as much with so many listeners, further showing the importance of the record’s lyrical content.

‘My Addiction’ is yet another example of that importance.  As the song’s title indicates, it is a song about dealing with addiction.  This is yet another familiar theme in so much rock and hard rock that encourages listeners to conquer their addictions.  Connolly sings in the song’s lead verse, “Somehow I found what’s mine/I’m not a victim of it/I’m gonna rise above it/Some moments lost in time/I try to push on through it/And now I never lose it/Now I never lose it/I push through the end/Till I cross that line/Because when they bury me/Won’t lose this time…”  The last two lines of the chorus are difficult to decipher sans lyrics, but more than enough of the verse and chorus is understandable that audiences can easily note that the song clearly is in fact that of conquering whatever addiction one has.  The song’s brief second verse follows in similar fashion adding its own touch to the whole.  In the end, Connolly sings, “I won’t let go” before singing again about pushing on through it all.  The whole here is a powerful statement about determination to get through “this endless race.”  It all collectively is just as certain to resonate with listeners.  When it and the other themes examined here are considered along with the rest of the record’s lyrical content, the whole makes even clearer why the lyrical content featured in the album is so important to its presentation.  It more than makes up for the slight shortcoming of the album’s musical content.

The arrangements that make up the record’s body are infectious.  There is no denying that aspect.  At the same time though, so much of what audiences get in this record is what listeners have gotten from Sevendust for so many years.  There is even a clear Alter Bridge influence late in the record in the form of ‘My Addiction.’  From the heaviness and harmonies in the guitar and bass lines to the very specific vocal styling in each song, the whole of so much of this record really is nearly identical, again, to so much of what Sevendust has crafted in each of its albums.  If any of the arrangements featured here were to be played on the radio without announcement from the on-air talent, audiences would very likely think this was content from Sevendust. Add in that this is hardly the first time that the band has taken this creative avenue just as in its existing catalog, and it hurts the record to a certain point that much more. That is not to say that the record’s musical content dooms it by any means but taking that safe route certainly did not do much to help the band grow in its latest outing.

While the album’s musical arrangements seem to counter a statement made by Connolly made during a recent interview that he felt the record showed evolution and growth from the band, the production of those arrangements helps to keep listeners engaged, even despite the overt familiarity.  The production that went into the record ensured that as heavy as so much of the record is throughout, each musician’s performance is expertly balanced by that of his band mates.  The richness of each performance comes together from one song to the next to make each composition so hard hitting and in turn enjoyable even despite being so overly familiar.  To that end, it still manages to make the album mostly successful when considered with everything else.  To that end, the album proves itself worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia, the latest album from hard rock super group Projected, is an intriguing new offering from the group.  The album’s interest comes in large part through its featured lyrical content, which is certain to resonate with audiences from one song to the next.  From social commentaries to more personal stories and more, the themes here are content that is completely relatable.  As much as the record’s lyrical content does to make it engaging and entertaining, the record’s musical content is a little more questionable.  Once again audiences get musical arrangements throughout that really are overly familiar.  For the most part what audiences get here are compositions that are more along the lines of content from Connolly and Hornsby’s main band, Sevendust, than anything that really takes any chances.  In other words, it once again finds the group largely playing it safe.  Yes, the arrangements are infectious and engaging, but it would have been nice to have heard something less familiar.  The record’s production works with the arrangements to ensure each arrangement, even being so overly familiar, is still fully immersive.  It does this by making sure the instrumentation is properly balanced in each work and that the vocals are just as clear as the instruments.  It puts the finishing touch to the whole.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered they make Hypoxia maybe not perfect but still worth hearing at least once.

Hypoxia is available now through Rat Pak Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/ProjectedBand.

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

Walking With Giants’ Debut LP Is Set To Become Well-Known In The Rock World

Courtesy: PFA Media/Walking With Giants, LLC

Courtesy: PFA Media/Walking With Giants, LLC

“It’s about thinking in ways you haven’t thought prior. “Instead of succumbing to the constant influence of negativity, you look inside yourself, find a solution you’ve never tried before, and end up in a new place you’ve never been. It’s about finding a different perspective.” Those are the words of Walking with Giants founder and front man Gary Noon in discussing the title of the debut album from his new project Walking With Giants and the content contained within the record’s eleven tracks. The album, Worlds Unknown, will be released in stores and online tomorrow, January 15th via Walking With Giants, LLC. The record’s musical content might not necessarily take listeners to a place that they’ve never been. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It boasts a familiar 90s rock influence throughout, courtesy of some very well-known names—Morgan Rose and Clint Lowery of Sevendust, and Brian Marshall of Creed/Alter Bridge. While the album’s musical content might not necessarily leave listeners in a different place, the album’s lyrical content just might. As Noon explains about the album’s lyrical content that “I want people to walk away from the record feeling something different. “Maybe they can relate and want to apply it to their lives and situations and find some inspiration.” Whether or not listeners feeling something different after listening to this record, they will come out of it knowing that they have heard a record that easily holds its own against the current crop of offerings in the rock world today.

Walking With Giants’ debut LP Worlds Unknown is not exactly unknown to audiences in terms of its musical or lyrical content. However in listening through the whole of its eleven song, thirty-seven-minute run time listeners will agree that despite this it still proves to be a record that easily holds its own against the current crop of offerings in the rock world today. Any of the songs featured in this record could be cited to support that argument. One of the most notable of the songs that could be cited is the Clint Lowery-crafted opus ‘Heavy Hand.’ The song’s melodic rock sound fits easily alongside that of Sevendust, Theory of a Deadman, and other current major-name acts of that realm. Noon and Lowery’s dual guitar attack sets against Rose’s work behind the kit and Marshall’s solid bass line to make a solid foundation for the song. The song’s lyrical content builds on that foundation with a concept that Noon explains, “Lyrically, it’s a guy who’s having an argument with himself like, ‘What the hell kind of a person am I? One day, I feel strong. The next day, I feel totally inadequate.’ It’s the struggle of figuring out who you are.” He sings here, “Another day here/Lost without a voice/Invisible, expendable/We drop off one by one/What am I/The useless/What are you/The judge/Someday I’ll prove my worth/But you’re holding on to find a dream/The time has come for the world to see/The world to see/To find that place where I can be/Trust it’s not the end of me.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Chasin’ the praises that fill the void/Too logical/Regrettable/You’ve set out to destroy/What if this is useless/Then who am I at all/I am here for what it’s worth/Trying hard to find that dream.” The inner battle that the song’s main figure is fighting is clear in these lines. And when that inner emotional battle is set against the power of the song’s musical content, the whole of the creation is a song that becomes one of the album’s brightest. It is just one of the featured songs that makes this record stand out. ‘Guilty One’ also serves as a good example of what makes this album stand out.

‘Heavy Hand’ is a key example of what makes Worlds Unknown standout from its counterparts so far this year. It is a solid, heavy piece that will also have listeners thinking in hearing its lyrical content. It is just one example of what makes this record stand out, however. ‘Guilty One’ is another song that can easily be cited as one of the album’s high points. Right off the bat, the song conjures thoughts of Staind and Breaking Benjamin with its semi-gloomcore sound. Noon even sounds like eerily like Staind front man Aaron Lewis in this piece. The similarity is so close that in all honesty if a person heard this song and Noon’s vocals without knowing it wasn’t Lewis singing, one would actually think that one was hearing Staind. That is especially the case considering the song’s lyrical content. Noon sings in this song, “The ice runs through my veins/The cold it separates us/The chaos you create takes over/The more I see the less I’m giving up.” There’s no denying the stylistic similarity between these line and those presented in songs from the likes of Staind, Breaking Benjamin, and others of that ilk. That is proven just as much as Noon sings in the song’s second verse, “The choices that we’ve made/Your consequences follow/The safety net you bring helps no one/But the more I see the less I’m giving up.” Noon seems to be setting up a scenario of someone that has created a rather negative situation for himself/herself and others because of the mindset of said individual. The mood of the song’s subject is illustrated quite well through Noon’s vocal talents and those of his fellow musicians. The end result of both elements together here is yet another song that shows clearly why WWG’s debut release stands (and walks) tall among 2016’s early crop of new rock releases.

Both ‘Heavy Hand’ and ‘Guilty One’ are key examples of what makes WWG’s debut album stand out early in 2016’s fied of new rock offerings. As important as they are to the overall presentation of Worlds Unknown they are not the album’s only high points. ‘Solid Ground’ is the album’s final full song (as in complete with music and lyrics). it is both another of the album’s overall high points and an equally good way to close out the album. That is because it exhibits more recent influences (I.E. Alter Bridge) in its musical content. That should come as no surprise considering that Creed/Alter Bridge bassist Brian Marshall worked on the album and fellow Creed/Alter Bridge band mate Scott “Flip” Phillips worked on WWG’s debut EP only a couple of years ago. There is also a hint of Sevendust here in the song’s melodic rock sound. Again it should come as no surprise to audiences. Considering the influences of both bands in this song’s creation the song’s musical content shows in the end to be plenty of reason for listeners to hear this song. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as its musical content. Lyrically speaking, this song completely exhibits everything that Noon noted of the album attempting to get people to thinking ways that they never had. That is clear in the song’s lead verse and chorus in which Noon sings, “Don’t you know/You’re about to step off the edge of the life you know/You know/Long way down/You can try not to fall but you’re losing ground/You know/It’s a life you chose/Now I put my feet on solid ground/I found a reason that I’m living for/That I’m living for. he comes across as saying here that what happens to a person is the result of his or her choices and he is confident in his choices. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Don’t they say/That you’ve gotta get out and start seizing the day/You know/Time to go/Deep inside/Take a look at the person/The one you can’t hide/You know/It’s the way that you grow/It’s the life that you chose.” From there he and his band mates reprise the song’s chorus before hitting the song’s bridge and returning to the chorus one more time. What Noon comes across as saying in the second verse is that people need to stop and really take a good look at themselves and realize, again, that people make their own paths in life as a result of their choices. The urgency in the song’s up-tempo musical content serves quite well to drive home the importance of that message. The two elements come together to make a song that is the perfect closing statement from Noon and company and one more standout example of what makes Worlds Unknown a record that every rock fan–not just fans of Alter Bridge, Creed, and Sevendust–should know.

Walking With Giants’ debut album Worlds Unknown is an album that rock fans across the board should know. That is because its eleven songs (technically nine full songs) present influences from some very familiar names within the rock *ahem* world. The lyrical content presented within each of the record’s featured songs strengthens the record even more. The combination of both elements throughout makes Worlds Unknown a record that is set to become very well-known throughout the rock world. It will be available Friday, January 15th. More information on Worlds Unknown is available online along with all of Walking With Giants’ latest news at:

Website: http://www.wwgiants.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wwgofficial

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.

Rock Supergroup’s Debut LP Great For Fans Of Sevendust, Alter Bridge

Courtesy: ABC-PR

Sevendust guitarist John Connolly stumbled onto something quite interesting when he decided to join forces with fellow Sevendust member Vince Hornsby and Alter Bridge/Creed members Scott Phillips and Erock Friedman.  The hard rock supergroup’s debut album is a familiar mixture of sounds brought collectively from their own primary projects.  The pinpoint precise guitar work that Connolly honed throughout the years with Sevendust is evident throughout the course of this record.  And drummer Scott Phillip’s chops are just as sharp here as if he was playing with Creed or Alter Bridge. 

What is perhaps most intriguing about this record is not so much the fact that the album boasts quite the similarity to material from Sevendust, but that Connolly himself has proven to be quite the vocalist.  He actually has some very strong pipes throughout the entire work.  And the addition of Sevendust’s Lajon Witherspoon on ‘Bring You Back’ adds that much more flare to the song.  Connolly especially shows his vocal abilities on ‘12804.’  Whereas he showed his pipes could withstand the fiercest growls on other harder rocking songs, this ballad-esque tribute to legendary guitarist Dimebag Darrell shows that he really is the real deal in terms of vocal proficiency.  This slowdown is only momentary, of course, as the band instantly launches back into the more adrenaline laced sound in ‘The Crown.’  He shows that he’s just as talented as Alter Bridge front man Myles Kennedy both with his guitar work and his vocals on this song.  It’s just one more of the album’s many highlights. 

Another of the album’s real high points comes on its closer, ‘Breaking Me.’  After the musical onslaught of the album, this final piece will leave audiences breathless, but at the same time, feeling like they’ve experienced more than just an album.  Phillips’ pounding drums and the absolutely demolishing guitar work from Connolly is like something from Sevendust’s 2007 Album, ‘Alpha.’  On the other end, the album’s opener, ‘Hello’ sounds like it could have easily fit into Sevendust’s early albums.  The same applies to ‘Watch it Burn’ and the majority of this record.  Anyone that’s a fan of Sevendust, Creed and/or Alter Bridge will easily find something enjoyable of their own regardless of which track they try from this disc.  ‘Human’ is available in stores and online now.  Fans who want to check out the band’s music and all the latest from Projected can go online now to http://www.projectedband.com, http://www.facebook.com/ProjectedBand, http://twitter.com/projected1119, and http://www.youtube.com/projected1119.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Alter Bridge moves into the mix of the year’s best live shows

Courtesy: Alter Bridge Recordings/EMI Label Services

Good morning, everyone.  I hope your weekend is going well so far.  I promised earlier this morning that I’d have even more new reviews to come.  And I try my hardest to be a man of my word.  So this morning, I’ve got another new review.  Funny thing is that with this review, it’s now official that I’m going to have to shift my list of the year’s top live shows yet again.  That’s because of just how impressed I am by the topic of this review.  This morning, I offer a live set that has really set itself apart from the others that have already been released thus far.  This morning I offer to you, dear readers, the recently released double disc cd/blu-ray release from Alter Bridge, “Live at Wembley.”

So often, when it comes to choosing which live recordings to buy, audiences are forced to choose between the audio and video portions of the show(s) in question.  In other cases, fans are forced to wait and see if labels will even release given shows in more than one format.  It could be argued the reason this happens is labels’ fears of said releases’ success or lack thereof.  So in releasing “Live at Wembley” in a cd/blu-ray package, Alter Bridge Recordings and EMI Label Services were taking a calculated risk.  That risk has paid off.  What fans get in this dual disc package is a nearly two hour concert that spans its whole curent catalogue.  It doesn’t feel the least bit of its near two hour time, either.  The band keeps the energy moving throughout the concert, even in its slower songs, making that run time pass by with ease.  Add in a bonus tour documentary, and audiences get a great two piece/three-part live release that has officially made its case for being named one of the year’s best live recordings.

“Live at Wembley” is only the second live release from Alter Bridge.  But it’s also the best of the pair.  The recording documents the final show on the band’s 2011 European tour.  The very first thing that fans wil notice in this set is the stunning clarity of the show’s blu-ray presentation.  If ever there was an argument for switching  to blu-ray and HDTV, the clarity of the picture in this show is it.  It’s not all that makes the video portion of the show so impressive, though.  The show itself plays its own role.  Director Daniel E. Catullo III and his crew are to be highly commended for their work on recording the performance.  The work of the camera crew really caught the vibe of both the band and the audience.  Viewers could feel both sides feeding off of one another’s energy.  That served to make the show fly by.  Before audiences know it, the show’s over.  On top of all of that, the shooting took place from both on stage and in the crowd.  It makes audiences feel as if they’re right there with those who were there at the time of the show.  All combined, these are signs of a great live show. 

Speaking of the audience and band feeding off of one another, the way that the camera crew caught the audience clapping and swaying its hands in unison showed how much the audience appreciated the band’s performance.  It was moving to see how the band’s music brought so many people from so many different backgrounds together for one special night.  It just goes to prove music’s ability to unify people.  Those moments are many throughout the show.  But there’s something beautiful and moving about them, every time.

On stage, viewers watching the show at home see the result of the audience feeding off of the band.  Frontman Myles Kennedy takes that energy from the audiences and gives it back tenfold.  He proves to be the perennial frontman, especially during ‘White Knuckles.’  He comes across as a big kid when he gets the lighting crew to bring the lights up on one side of the audience and then the other.  It’s just one of many moments that make one compare his stage presence to that of Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger.  This is meant in a wholly complimentary manner.

As amazing as the Wembley show’s video portion is, it’s only part of what makes this set a triple threat.  The bonus tour documentary shows fans a side of the band that they might not have otherwise seen before.  As noted already, frontman Myles Kennedy comes across as a big kid at least once during the show.  Listening to him talk about how amazed he is to be where he is now serves to certify that description.  He and the rest of the band–Mark Tremonti (guitars), Scott Phillips (Drums) and Brian Marshall (Bass)–come across as being very humble, hard working musicians who do what they do more for the band’s fans than for themselves.  Hearing Myles and Brian talk about how serious Myles takes the matter of caring for his voice shows how serious he is about performing.  It’s a little bit funny hearing Myles talk about people think he’s being anti-social because he doesn’t talk much before a show.  Though it does make at least a certain amount of sense.  And it makes him that much more respected both as a vocalist and a musician.

Just as impressive as the band’s devotion to performing for its fans is how serious it takes being at the level at which it now sits.  Even as big as the band is, the band’s members talk about the honor of playing Wembley.  It’s compared to playing New York’s Madison Square Garden.  The point here was to highlight that the band realizes how far it’s come to be playing one of Europe’s most legendary venues.  Of course, for all of the seriousness caught in the documentary, there are lighter moments, too.  It’s funny hearing the band talk and laugh about how expensive things are overseas versus how expensive it might be here in the United States.

The bonus documentary has far more enjoyable moments than what is noted here.  Fans who watch it for themselves will see every one of those moments.  They will also get a wonderful high def visual experience in the video portion of the show and an equally enjoyable audio portion with the included cd.  All together, this double disc set is a triple threat in the ranks of the year’s live recordings.  It could be argued that considering both the extrensic and intrinsic value of this set, Alter Bridge has made a fully valid argument for having released one of the elite top live recordings of the year.

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