‘Tu’ Is A Strong First Musical Salvo From Alien Weaponry

Courtesy: Napalm Records

New Zealand has, in recent years, started making a name for itself in the music community.  That was thanks to the breakout success of the hard rock band Like A Storm.  Early this summer, yet another band from New Zealand started making a name for itself in the form of Alien Weaponry.  The young, up-and-coming metal outfit released its debut album Tu June 1 through Napalm Records.  In the months since its release the record has earned its own share of acclaim thanks to its musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  Much the same can be said of the album’s lyrical content.  Both items will be addressed here, along with the album’s overall sequencing.  Each item is key in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Tu a solid debut for Alien Weaponry that shows great promise for the band’s future.

Alien Weaponry’s debut album Tu is one of the biggest surprises of this year’s hard rock and metal community.  It is a strong debut for the New Zealand-based band.  That is due in part to the album’s musical arrangements.  From start to end, the arrangements lend themselves so easily to the best works of Sepultura and Soulfly. The album opens with a familiar tribal sounding spoken word track in ‘Whaikorero’ that, again, presents that comparison to the band’s Brazilian counterparts.  That spoken word intro gives way to a full on aural assault that even more lends itself to comparisons to the noted bands.  The familiar thrash sound continues as the album progresses into ‘Holding My Breath,’ which is itself a very heavy song lyrically just as much as it is musically.  The heaviness continues on into ‘Raupatu’ and ‘Kai Tangata,’ which is musically yet another very close work to those of Sepultura and Soulfly.  The same applies to all of the works that make up the second half of the record.  Right to the end, listeners get a sound from the band’s arrangements that while familiar is still unique to the band, giving audiences plenty just from this aspect to appreciate..  The familiar yet unique musical arrangements featured throughout this album are key in their own way to the album’s presentation, but are certainly not the album’s only selling point.  Its lyrical content is just as noteworthy as its musical content.

The lyrical content featured throughout the course of Tu is important to discuss because, again much like Sepultura and Soulfly, is rife with sociopolitical commentary from start to end.  The album opens, in fact, with the spoken word track ‘Whaikorero,’ which addresses the invasion of Queen Victoria’s military forces in the now infamous Invasion of the Waikato.  That invasion was led by Lt.-Gen. Duncan Cameron and was the biggest conflict of the 19th Century New Zealand Wars.  It involved British Colonial military forces and members of the Kingatana Movement.  The British Colonial forces defeated the Kingatan forces after nine months of combat, leaving them in poverty, but in 1995, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Waikato-Raupatu Claims Settlement Act of 1995 returning some land to members of the Waiakto-Tainui Tribe as well as financial compensation as a means to make a certain peace with those peoples.  Odds are that most audiences were unaware of this conflict prior to learning about it from the members of Alien Weaponry.  To that end, it stands out, along with the likes of ‘Ru Ana Te Whenua,’ ‘Raupatu’ and Whispers’ because of that outright commentary.

On an equally sociopolitical level, but not as intense as the other noted songs, audiences also get a commentary about the dangers of social media in ‘PC Bro.’  This song tackles the impact of social media on society today.  Front man Lewis de Jong sings in the song’s lead verse, “Flickering screens against glassy dead eyes/Have now become the norm/They live their lives through others’ eyes/Willing more and more/That you lose to the pressure/The watching eyes of the masses/Kill common sense/The media rules you/They are bored with your life/You need to make it right/To satisfy the fixated idiots that see your every move.”  He adds later in the song, “When will they see/That your life is a lie.”  This is pretty much spot on.  Given it is hardly the first time that any act has taken on the issue of social media and its negative impacts, but even with that in mind, it is still important to keep that reminder out there in hopes that people will eventually realize what social media has done and continues to do to the world.

The social and political commentary does not end with ‘PC Bro.’  The band takes on the very prominent issue of mental health with ‘Holding My Breath.’  De Jong sings in this song’s lead verse, “Before you judge me/Take a good hard look at yourself/You don’t know me/But you’re draining me of mental health/A lie based on popular opinion/I want to die ‘cause I can’t be forgiven/Locked in a room/Void of humanity/I’m in a black hole/suffering endlessly/Opening my eyes is worse than death/That’s why I keep on holding my breath.”  This is someone who is battling terribly, the effect of emotional and mental abuse, clearly.  This song is meant to bring to light, the very real and very serious concern of what people go through.  They point out here to people who are suffering from those negative thoughts that they are not alone.  It is a warning to everyone that people hold in those feelings so people need love.  That is of course this critic’s take on this song.  Hopefully it is somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  If it is, then keeping it in mind along with the other songs noted here and the brutal musical content presented throughout the album, the record’s musical and lyrical content collectively does a lot to make the album stand out.  The musical and lyrical content is just a portion of what makes the record noteworthy.  Its overall sequencing is just as important to address as its general content.

The sequencing of Tu is so important to address because that work plays just as much into keeping listeners engaged and entertained as the album’s content.  It is clear in listening to the album from start to finish, the album’s energy never lets up.  The heaviness even in the simplicity of the album’s spoken word opener gives way to the already noted full-on heaviness of ‘Ru Ana Te Whenua.’  ‘Holding My Breath’ offers listeners its own intense thrash metal sound, as does ‘Raupatu.’  The same can be said of ‘Kai Tangata,’ which immediately follows ‘Raupatu,’ and ‘Rage – It Takes Over Again.’  From that point on, the energy and fire lets up little, if any.  In other words, those behind the glass and the boards made certain that listeners would have an album in Tu that ensured itself one of those rare albums worth taking in from start to end without stopping just as much through its sequencing as through its content.  Keeping all of that in mind, the album in whole proves to be a solid start for Alien Weaponry, and a record that makes the band the heir apparent to the throne of Sepultura and Soulfly.

Alien Weaponry’s debut album Tu is its own powerful first musical strike from the up-and-coming hard rock band.  It is a work that makes this band the heir apparent to the thrones of Soulfly and Sepultura with its musical and lyrical content.  That is due in large part to its collective musical and lyrical content.  When that is considered alongside the album’s sequencing, the whole of the elements makes Tu a record that puts the rest of the metal and hard rock community on notice that Alien Weaponry is locked, loaded and ready to go for years to come.  The album is available now through Napalm Records.  More information on Tu is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and tour dates at:




Website: http://alienweaponry.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlienWeaponry




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Sepultura To Stream Upcoming Concert

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

Sepultura is making lemonade out of lemons.

The veteran thrash outfit was recently banned from performing live at The Palace – hamra in Beirut, Lebanon.  According to a news release sent Tuesday from Nuclear Blast Records stated the band was enacted by the nation’s general security office.  No reason for the ban was noted in the release.

The ban, the first ever in the band’s history, forced the band to cancel its performance at the noted venue.  It did not, however, keep the band from performing for its fans in Beirut.

As a result of the Beirut incident, the band announced through the news release, its May 2 performance in Dubai will be streamed online through the band’s official YouTube channel. The concert is scheduled to stream live at 10 p.m. Lebanese time, 9 p.m. CET and 3 p.m. EST.

The band’s members offered thanks to the staff of the Embassy of Brazil in Beirut for their support, Skull Session and Sepulnation around the world for covering the developing situation.

Sepultura’s upcoming live dates are part of an ongoing effort to promote its 2017 album Machine Messiah, which was released January 2017 through Nuclear Blast Records.  Machine Messiah spawned two singles — ‘I Am The Enemy‘ and ‘Phantom Self.’

Sepultura released eight studio interview sessions leading up to the release of Machine Messiah.  The videos are listed below.

Watch the Machine Messiah studio diaries here:

Studio Diary #1: www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Lp7ge8Q3w

Studio Diary #2: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8vneH5RKt4

Studio Diary #3: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrkNouSAxT4

Studio Diary #4: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol2arUukE30

Studio Diary #5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0SveiuE_AY

Studio Diary #6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNa9K7GvcH4

Studio Diary #7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NdCDS0IM60

Studio Diary #8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHBU2wCu1JY

More information on Sepultura’s upcoming live streaming show is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:


Website: http://www.sepultura.com/br

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sepulturacombr


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Project 86 “Among” Rock and Metal’s Best On Phil’s Picks 2017 Top New Hard Rock & Metal Albums

Courtesy: Project 86/TAG Publicity

For those about to rock, we salute you!

Yes, everyone knows that phrase from AC/DC’s classic song by the same name.  As popular as it is, it is more than just a song lyric and title.  It is a statement of honor for the acts and audiences who span the rock community.  This year, as with every year prior, there are so many bands to honor as the year nears its end, including hard rock and metal bands.  In case it hasn’t become clear by now, this article focuses on this critic’s choices for the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  As with every list before, compiling it was not an easy task.  New releases from Project 86, Arch Enemy, Iced Earth, and so many others made this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums very crowded.  That is putting it lightly.  Between well-known mainstream acts and their lesser-known independent counterparts, the two sides collectively offered so many impressive new albums.

Topping this critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums is Project 86’s latest album Sheep Among Wolves.  The band’s 10th full-length studio recording in 20 years, this record takes all of the best elements of the band’s past — both musically and lyrically — and uses them to craft a work that is just as memorable and engaging as its predecessors.  Also on this year’s list from Phil’s Picks are new albums from — as already noted — Iced Earth and Arch Enemy — as well as new offerings from Overkill, Act of Defiance, Prong, Adrenaline Mob, Blacktop Mojo and others. As with every list, this list presents this critic’s Top 10 titles plus five additional titles for a total of 15 records.  That being noted, here for you is Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Hard Rock & Metal Albums.


  1. Project 86 — Sheep Among Wolves
  2. Prong — Zero Days
  3. Act of Defiance — Old Scars, New Wounds
  4. Overkill — The Grinding Wheel
  5. Iced Earth — Incorruptable
  6. Blacktop Mojo — Burn The Ships
  7. Adrenaline Mob — We The People
  8. Marty Friedman — Wall of Sound
  9. Corroded — Defcon Zero
  10. Dragonforce — Reaching Into Infinity
  11. The Haunted — Strength In Numbers
  12. Doyle — As We Die
  13. Demon Hunter — Outlive
  14. 36 Crazyfists — Lanterns
  15. Arch Enemy — Will To Power

That’s all for this list.  Again, it was not an easy list to compile.  Acts the likes of Eve To Eve to Adam, Marty Friedman, Sepultura, Annihilator, Mastodon and so many others all deserve their own share of credit.  With that in mind, it becomes easy to see why no disrespect was meant to any one act or another here.  Every noted act released its own impressive album.  Only so many spaces were available, sadly.

2018 is already shaping up to be an interesting year in its own right, with new material from Ministry on the way alongside new albums from Judas Priest, Saxon, Machine Head, Corrosion of Conformity, Tool, Clutch and lots more.  Stay tuned for all of that in the new year.  To keep up with all of 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.

Verbeuren Named Megadeth’s New Permanent Drummer

Courtesy: Soilwork/Nuclear Blast Records/Adrenaline PR

Courtesy: Soilwork/Nuclear Blast Records/Adrenaline PR

It looks like the Megadeth drummer carouse has finally stopped spinning.

The band has announced that Dirk Verbeuren is the band’s new full-time drummer.  In taking on the new position Verbeuren has stepped down as a member of Soilwork.  In his place drummer Bastian Thusgaard has been tapped to take over drumming duties for the band.  Verbeuren has been performing with Megadeth in recent months, taking the place of Chris Adler (Lamb of God), who had originally filled in after Megadeth’s previous full-time drummer Shawn Drover left the band alongside guitarist Chris Broderick in 2014.  The pair went on to form Act of Defiance with vocalist Henry Derek and bassist Matt Bachand.

Soilwork front man Bjorn “Speed” Strid shared his thoughts on Verbeuren’s departure in a statement released to the press.  He was completely supportive of the decision both on the part of Megadeth and Verbeuren.  “In regards to the statement Megadeth released yesterday, confirming that Dirk will join them as their full-time drummer, I just want to take the time to wish Dirk good luck on this new venture and thank him for 12 great years together,” he said.  “Together we have created a beast of a band and have pushed the limits musically further than we ever could have imagined.”  Strid also made mention of Thusgaard’s new appointment with the band in his statement, noting “Meanwhile, I’m sure many of you have seen us at a festival in Europe this summer with our friend, Bastian Thusgaard filling in on drums and I’m sure we can all agree on what a monster he is. Thank you Bastian, you are absolutely killing it. Check out the remaining festival dates and come see us. We’ll be there. Thank you.”

Verbeuren was just as warm in his thoughts on his time with his now former band mates in his own statement.  He also offered up his thanks to his new band mates, and fellow musicians in making his transition.  “They say the biggest decisions in life are the hardest to make,” he said.  This decision falls under that category. As a drummer I’ve always enjoyed the evolution of my path. The past twelve years with Soilwork have been incredible, a portion of my life I honor with pride. When I was approached to join Megadeth- a childhood dream come true and something I never anticipated. I was beyond excited to even consider the realm of possibility. But truth be told, I couldn’t have rightfully made this step without the support and blessing of my Soilwork family. For that I owe a huge thank you to Bjorn, Sven, David, Sylvain and Markus. You have allowed me to see what lies ahead, and you’re my brothers in metal. Chris Adler, thank you for introducing me to Megadeth and for your encouragement and support. Dave, David and Kiko, I’m thankful for your warm welcome and thrilled to perform and create badass music with you guys. To the fans, this is a new chapter for us; I hope we can enjoy this ride together!”

In regards to what fans have to expect from Soilwork and its sound as it moves ahead Strid had the following to say:   “In the recent years Soilwork have found new ways of expressing ourselves and as much as of a cliché it is, I strongly believe that this is very much of a new era for us and that we still have so much left to say, whether it being with or without Dirk. This band has grown to be quite a metal collective and an institution that paves the way creatively and we hope that you, the fans, can feel the presence and the heart in our music still to this day. Believe me, it’s there. I can assure that you will forever get 100% Soilwork, as long as we release albums. We aim to surprise ourselves and the listeners by constantly developing our sound and songwriting, something I believe we have succeeded in doing and yet remained true to our roots. That is something to be proud of and we are. We appreciate all our loyal fans and are excited that so many of you share our musical vision.”

Soilwork has a string of festival dates currently scheduled for August.  Those live dates will be followed up soon after by a short string of UK dates with Arch Enemy.  It will have one headlining date on that schedule, too.  After that stretch the band will take some time off before launching a South American tour on September 9th in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.  The tour is currently scheduled to run through September 20th in Guadalupe Inn, Mexico.  The band will take off the rest of the year after wrapping that tour and will then go back out on the road for a European tour with Kreator, Sepultura, and Aborted beginning February 1st in Metz, France.  That tour is currently scheduled to run through March 4th in Essen, Germany.  The band’s current live schedule is noted in full below.


SOILWORK 2016 International Festivals and Headliners:
8.14.2016 Rasnov, Romania – Rockstadt Extreme Fest
8.19.2016 Dinkelsbuhl, Germany – SummerBreeze Open Air
8.20.2016 Saint-Nolff, France – Motocultor Festival
SOILWORK August 2016 UK Tour with ARCH ENEMY:
Tickets available from seetickets.com
8.21.2016 Norwich, UK -Waterfront w/ ARCH ENEMY
8.22.2016 Sheffield, UK – Corporation w/ ARCH ENEMY

8.23.2016 Cardiff, UK -Tramshed w/ ARCH ENEMY
8.24.2016 Southampton, UK – Engine Rooms w/ ARCH ENEMY
8.25.2016London, UK – The Underworld (tickets) (headline – NO ARCH ENEMY)
SOILWORK in South America:
9.9.2016 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Treato Odisseia
9.10.2016 Sao Paulo, Brazil – Clash Club
9.11.2016 Curitiba, Brazil – Music Hall
9.13.2016 Buenos Aires, Argentina – Uniclub
9.14.2016 Montevideo, Uruguay – MM Box
9.16.2016 Santiago, Chile – Blondie
9.17.2016 Lima, Peru – The Blood
9.18.2016 Bogota, Columbia – Auditorio Lumiere
9.20.2016 Guadalupe Inn, Mexico – Lunario
Presented by: EMP, ESP, Meinl, Metal.de, Metal Hammer, Metal + Wine, Metalnews.de, Musix, Nuclear Blast, Peta, Piranha, RTN-Touring, Tätowiermagazin, Visions.
2.1.2017 Metz, France – B.A.M.
2.2.2017 Tilburg, Netherlands – 013
2.3.2017 Munich, Germany – Tonhalle
2.4.2017 Hamburg, Germany – Mehr! Theater
2.6.2017 Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio
2.7.2017 Oslo, Norway – Rockefeller
2.10.2017 Helsinki, Finland – Black Box
2.11.2017 Tampere, Finland – Pakkahuone
2.12.2017 Tallinn, Estonia – Rock Cafe
2.13.2017 Vilnius, Lithuania – Siemens Arena
2.15.2017 Warsaw, Poland – Progresja
2.16.2017 Wien, Austria – Gasometer
2.17.2017 Wiesbaden, Germany – Schlachthof
2.18.2017 Berlin, Germany – Columbia-Halle
2.19.2017 Pratteln, Switzerland – Z 7
2.21.2017 Trezzo, Italy – Live Club
2.22.2017 Grenoble, France – Summum
2.23.2017 Barcelona, Spain – Razzmatazz
2.24.2017 Madrid, Spain – Riviera
2.25.2017 Toulouse, France – Bikini
2.26.2017 Paris, France – Bataclan
2.28.2017 Manchester, UK – Academy
3.1.2017 Dublin, Ireland – Vicar Street
3.2.2017 London, Uk – O2 Forum
3.3.2017 Balen, Belgium – Torhout
3.4.2017 Essen, Germany – Grugahalle

Death Resonance, Soilwork’s new compilation record, will be released Friday, August 19th via Nuclear Blast Records.  Audiences can pre-order the record online now here.  Audiences can also order the band’s most recent album The Ride Majestic online on CD, vinyl, and digital formats.  While ordering the band’s new music audiences can also check out the videos for a pair of songs from The Ride Majestic—‘Death in General,’ and ‘Enemies in Fidelity’—online, too.  The album’s title track is streaming online, too via YouTube.

More information on Soilwork’s upcoming tour dates, music, and more is available online now at:




Website: http://www.soilwork.org

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/soilwork




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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Steel Panther’s New Live BD A “Solid” Release For Fans

Courtesy:  DC3/Universal Republic/3 dimensions/AGPS Management

Courtesy: DC3/Universal Republic/3 dimensions/AGPS Management

Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, once said that death and taxes were life’s two constants.  If he were alive today, Franklin would change his tune and say that there are in fact three more constants in the twenty-first century.  Those constants are sex, drugs, and rock & roll.  Many bands have tried to live those constants.  Many have succeeded.  But few have truly lived those constants like the glam rockers of Steel Panther.  This California based band actually started in 2009.  Since that time, its members—Lexxi Foxx, Michael Starr, Satchel, and Stix Zadinia—have become the poster boys for everything that was at one point all that rockers lived for.  The band has already released two albums under its current moniker.  And now thanks to Universal Republic Records, audiences get a new chance to experience all the testosterone fueled, alcohol infused bombacity that is Steel Panther live in its new live release, British Invasion.

British Invasion was recorded live at the famed Brixton Academy during its most recent live tour in support of its most recent album, Balls Out.  Brixton Academy has hosted some of rocks biggest names including both Machine Head and Sepultura.  Now Steel Panther can add its name to the list of huge names that have performed there.  Fans of the aforementioned bands got quite the show with each one.  And Steel Panther’s fans get a show that they’ll enjoy in this new release, too.  Not only do fans get a full set from its performance at Brixton, but there’s also the bonus of five extra songs recorded live at the band’s performance at the Download 2012 Festival.  The audio and video mix on both of the main and bonus performance are quite clear.  And whether one has seen SP live before or not, audiences get a show that has all the over the top antics and music that audiences have come to expect from this band.  To sweeten the deal, the band and its label, Universal Republic Records, have included a booklet complete with lyrics to every song performed in the main set.

The booklet included with the Blu-ray is just part of what viewers will appreciate from this performance.  Audiences get out of this performance, a band that actually interacts with the audience in attendance.  And it’s not just your standard back and forth banter, either.  The entire band gets in on the act.  It’s little things like that that make a performance memorable.  Though of course, the band’s interaction with its audience is just half of what will make the band’s fans enjoy this recording.  There’s also enough T & A to make any college frat boy happy for quite some time.  The band even brings in some “adult entertainers” to help with its show in more than one song.  Add in the impressive audio and visual editing and mixing and fans get in this recorded performance a show that fans of Steel Panther will be watching time and again.  The band’s new DVD and Blu-ray are both available online and in stores now.  Regardless of whether or not fans manage to pick it up, they’ll still have the chance to see the band live as it’s currently touring in support of the new live release now.  Fans can get all the latest tour dates and news from the band now online at http://www.steelpantherrocks.com, http://www.facebook.com/steelpantherkicksass, http://twitter.com/#!/Steel_Panther, and http://www.myspace.com/steelpantherkicksass.

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.

Halestorm Holding Special Online Performance Today

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Halestorm has a very special treat for all of its fans today.  The band will be taking over the Warner Sound studios today.  The band will be performing live at 3pmEST/12PT for a very special Live Session performance.  Fans can check out the announcement from the band right here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfpxXV3HrVg.  And fans can go to The Warner Sound’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/TheWarnerSound

The PA based band’s performance is all part of its ongoing promotion for its most recent album, Strange Case Of…  The album was released April 10th via Atlantic Records and was produced by mega producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., Sepultura, Theory of a Deadman, etc.)  Those who don’t get the chance to catch the band this afternoon will still get plenty of opportunities to see the band live as it tours in support of its new album.  The band’s next live performance will be Thursday, November 8th at the Soul Kitchen in Mobile, Alabama.  It will also be making a stop in Asheville, North Carolina on Wednesday, December 12th at the Orange Peel.  Halestorm’s fans can get a full tour rundown and all the latest news from the band online at http://www.halestormrocks.com, http://www.facebook.com/halestormrocks, and http://www.myspace.com/halestorm

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