Crowbar’s New LP Gets Well Above A Zero

Courtesy: MNRK Heavy

Veteran metal act Crowbar officially returned this week with its latest album, more than five years after the release of its then latest album, The Serpent Only Lies.  The band released its new album, Zero And Below Friday through MNRK, formerly eOne.  The 10-song record is a powerful new offering from the band musically and lyrically speaking. Both items will be examined here.  When they are considered along with the album’s production, which will also be examined here, the collective makes the album in whole another impressive new addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.

Zero and Below, the 12th album from stalwart metal band Crowbar, is a strong new offering from the group.  The album impresses will impress the band’s established audiences just as much as it will more casual fans of the band’s familiar sludge metal sounds.  Speaking of those sounds, they (and the album’s overall arrangements) are just part of what makes the album appealing to the noted audiences.  From beginning to end, the album’s arrangements continue to present the band’s familiar heavy, thick, sludge metal sounds, which are topped off by front man Kirk Windstein’s familiar groaning screams.  Few if any metal vocalists out there past or present sound like him, which makes the arrangements all the more engaging and entertaining.  Right from the album’s outset the heaviness hits listeners like a ton of bricks in ‘The Fear That Binds You.’  What’s so interesting in this song is that to an extent, listeners can argue that there is a touch of comparison to works from Hatebreed tied into the mix.  It makes for an interesting new composition from the band.  As the album progresses, the band’s trademark heaviness blends with a touch of blues-based metal in ‘Chemical GODZ’  There is almost a certain sort of Superjoint Ritual comparison here to be more exact. The band even tries its hand (successful at that) at some faster stuff in the form of ‘Bleeding From Every Hole.’  Simply put, the band shows through the album’s musical content, a clear evolution in the approach that it took this time out.  It is reason enough for audiences to take in this record, and certainly not the only reason, either.  The record’s lyrical content adds its own appeal to the presentation.

The lyrical content featured in Zero and Below is important to examine because as intense and heavy as the record’s musical arrangements are, they actually help translate the emotion in the songs’ lyrical themes.  The album’s opener, ‘The Fear That Binds You’ reminds audiences that we don’t know what the future holds, but even despite that uncertainty, we cannot give up.  Windstein delivers that message as he writes, Everything that you thought was good/Can quickly fade/And you’ll find the blackest, darkest, deepest hole you’ve made/Breaking it down/The fear that binds you/Breaking it down/The answer finds you/Survive/No more borrowed time.”  The message seems relatively clear here.  It comes across as that noted reminder for people to look past the darker, more emotional moments and life’s uncertainties.  It is a familiar theme and just as welcome here as in any other case from any other band.

‘Confess To Nothing,’ one of the album’s early entries, presents what seems like a message about overcoming addiction.  More specifically, it seems to address heroin addiction.  This as Windstein writes in the song’s lead verse, “You feel the frost/The chill is touching you/That needle speaks/Stand and walk away/Hand of doom/It reaches out for you/Don’t grab ahold/Live another day/Don’t back down/Live to win.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “You’re sweating now/Your pulse begins to rise/It’s got a hold on you/Never compromise/Your soul weak and growing old/Focus your mind/Don’t destroy it now.”  From there he again reminds listeners to not back down.  Whether it is in fact a story of overcoming addiction or dealing with another sort of negative situation, the fact here is that the band is reminding audiences to not give in and remain positive.  So again, this continued message of determination is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. 

‘It’s Always Worth The Gain,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  In the case of this song, Windstein writes again of pushing on through life, stating, “Your hunger better always burn/You’re never guaranteed a turn/The weak are always pushed away/Never underestimate/No one knows their final fate/’Cause I have earned mine every day/Taking one step at a time/March on.”  This reminder will resonate with audiences just as much as those in the other songs examined here.  When each message examined here is considered along with that of the album’s other songs, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  All things considered here, the album’s lyrical content proves just as important as its musical arrangements.

As much as the overall content presented in Zero and Below does to make the album engaging and entertaining, it is only part of what will keep audiences listening.  The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.  That is because of how much is going on in each composition.  Between the heaviness and power of Windstein’s vocals and the intense power of the songs’ instrumentations, the songs have a lot going on both in terms of volume and activity.  Thanks to the work of those behind the glass, each item was expertly balanced with the others in each work.  The end result is that the utmost power is brought out of each song, and by connection, audiences’ engagement and entertainment remains throughout the album.  This creates a powerful general effect for the album that when considered with the album’s content, makes the record in whole one of the best of the year’s new hard rock and metal albums.

Zero and Below, the latest album from Crowbar, is another strong new offering from the veteran band.  It is a presentation that will engage and entertain the band’s established audiences just as much as casual fans.  That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements are important in that while they continue to exhibit the band’s familiar heavy, sludge metal style and sound, also show some growth from the band.  They show the band’s willingness to take some chances.  The record’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical arrangements.  That is because of the messages that it delivers (and seems to deliver).  The messages (and seeming messages) present what come across as very positive themes.  Those themes, together with the album’s musical arrangements, give audiences much to appreciate.  The production of the overall content rounds out the album’s most important elements.  It ensures that each song presents the most powerful impact possible.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Zero and Below one more of the best new hard rock and metal albums so far this year.

Zero and Below is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Crowbar’s latest news at:




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Confess’ New Single Presents An Intense And Intensely Positive Message

Courtesy:  Opposite Records

Courtesy: Opposite Records

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

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

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

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

‘See You Other Side’ is a powerful new work from Iran’s Confess. The intensity of the song’s musical content will make any metal purist proud; especially those purists that are fans of the thrash and hardcore realms. The song’s lyrical content gives the song even more punch. Both elements assembled together, they make ‘See You Other Side’ a message that given the chance could inspire listeners both in the band’s home country and in countries around the world and in turn begin to help turn the tide in the war on terror just as much as entertain. Audiences can, again, hear ‘See You Other Side’ now online via SoundCloud at More information on the band’s new single is available online now along with all of the latest news from the band at To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Anselmo’s Solo Debut One Of 2013’s Most Brutal Metal Records

Courtesy:  Housecore Records

Courtesy: Housecore Records

Philip H. Anselmo has returned.  And along with his band mates in The Illegals, he has never sounded more intense.  There are those that upon hearing this album have instantly tried to compare this record to Anselmo’s work with Pantera, Down, and Superjoint Ritual.  Here’s the thing.  Anselmo’s solo debut is nothing like the work that he did with those bands.  He even noted in an interview concerning the record that he wanted to do something completely different.  Go figure, the opening number on this record is titled, ‘Music Media Is My Whore.’  And the very fact that the album’s title is Walk Through Exits Only should tell listeners right off the bat that he intended to do something completely different than he had previously done on this record.  That would seem to be the point of the album’s title at least.

Those that can let themselves get past the expectations of this album being more of what he has done before will appreciate it for what it is.  It is a record that mixes elements of death metal and grindcore to make a work that simply put, is brutal.  While it only consists of eight tracks, all eight songs on this album are sure to impress those that are open minded enough to accept them.  Drummer Jose Manuel Gonzalez manages his duties with the power and precision of a jackhammer.  And guitarist Marzi Montazeri is just as sharp whether soloing or playing his role as guitarist.  The only comparison that can possibly be made to that of Montazeri here is Slipknot guitarist Mick Thompson (#6).  On a side note, it would be interesting to hear the two perform or record together.  Along with bassist Bennett Bartley, the quartet’s metal onslaught is complete throughout the course of the album’s eight tracks.

The musical side of Walk Through Exits Only is certain to impress those that are open minded enough to accept Anselmo’s new project for the departure that it is.  The time signatures are all over the map.  There are straight speed metal songs placed alongside more technical pieces.  A prime example of this is the placement of ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ being bookended by ‘Betrayed’ and the album’s title track.  ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ is one of the album’s more technical songs.  It helps to break up the momentum of the other pairing of songs, keeping listeners’ ears much more easily. The other songs have more of a thrash/speed metal vibe that is certain to make any purist metal head proud.  This is just one of a handful of examples that runs through the album’s sequencing.  Audiences will find even more examples of that balance on their own in picking up this record.  Speaking of balance, credit where credit is due.  The balance of the music and vocals add to the album’s brutality. 

 The production values on this record deserve their credit, too.  Anselmo co-produced the record alongside Mike Thompson.  And the partnership between the pair played a major role in the album’s success.  There is a certain power about the record all the way around.  Anselmo’s vocals and the output from his band mates are balanced quite well, allowing all involved to really come through.  The total output is a sound that while it carries influences from other bands, is still its own.  And it is that identity that will ultimately show through and make this a record that any metal head and any devoted Phil Anselmo fan will appreciate in the end.  It is available now in stores and online.  Fans will get their chance to see the band perform songs from the album live, too.  The band will perform Wednesday, July 31st at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  That performance will be followed up by a performance at Wooly’s in Des Moines, Iowa this Friday, August 2nd.  All of the latest tour dates from Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals are available now online at and Anselmo’s official website,

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KingShifter’s Debut LP Takes The Top Spot As 2013’s Top New Hard Rock Record

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

2013 has been a good year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Holy Grail, Black Sabbath, and Sevendust have made this a great year for the metal masses the world over.  Now with the release of its debut full length LP via Pavement Entertainment, Wichita, Kansas based KingShifter has just made the hard rock landscape that much more interesting.

KingShifter’s debut full length release, 26 Tons is an aptly titled record.  This eleven-track record is a heavy-hitting wrecking ball of hard rock.  From start to finish the album’s energy lets up only once.  That one time is in the near minute and a half acoustic piece, ‘.00125 lbs. (The Year of the Rat).  Other than that single moment, every other song on this record makes it one of the best debut records from a rock band (either mainstream or indie) in a very long time.  Its combination of hard hitting guitar licks, drums, and equally scathing lyrics make it a record that any purist metal head will appreciate.  And it all starts early on in the form of, ‘Revolution Generation.’  Front man Sprout sings about what’s happening to the country today.  From the epidemic of companies and doctors working together to sell their drugs, to the issue of school violence, Sprout runs the gamut.  Along the way he and his band mates wave a defiant musical flag declaring, “If we don’t do anything now/We’re soon to be doomed/We’ve got to stand strong/We shall not be moved/We are Americans/And we have proof/That we survived/The taxes, fiscal cliffs, and all of the wars/We’re here to tell you now/We won’t take it anymore!”  The song’s declaration of pride and self-empowerment is a call to arms and an anthem for a whole new generation.  And given the right support, could very well be the opening salvo in what breaks this band into the mainstream.

If ‘Revolution Generation’ isn’t enough example of what makes this a solid debut from KingShifter, then perhaps the equally hard rocking and defiant (yet far shorter) ‘STFU (& Die Already)’ will.  This punk styled piece comes in at just under two minutes long.  In that short time, this song hits just as hard as ‘Revolution Generation’ and any of the album’s other songs.  It is an intense song that goes after the news media—Sprout sings, “Television/I wanna burn it down”—and all of the negativity that clots television today.  In connection, he notes in no uncertain terms the effect that television has on people and his displeasure on the matter.

KingShifter’s debut record has plenty of social commentary and hard rock.  For all the commentary that it offers, there is some lighter material on this record, too.  Case in point, ‘Downin’ Booze – Raisin’ Hell.’  This song is a party song.  It’s an anthem for the blue collar workers across the country.  The influence from hard rock supergroup HellYeah is quite obvious both lyrically and musically in this song.  This is clear in the song’s second verse as Sprout sings, “I’ve been inside/Of this dirty cage/Locked inside for five whole days/I’ve gotta ease my mind/And leave that bulls*** behind/This ******’s gonna go on a rage!”  With such high energy lyrics and equally high energy music, this song is more than certain to become just one of so many fan favorites and fan anthems both on KingShifter’s record and at its live shows. 

The songs noted here are just a few examples of what listeners can expect from Kingshifter’s upcoming debut record.  There is much more that audiences will appreciate throughout the album.  So much more could be written of 26 Tons.  But to do so would require more time and space than is available.  Simply put, given the chance by radio programmers and by Pavement Entertainment, 26 Tons could make Kingshifter one of the next big names in hard rock.  The album will be available in stores and online Tuesday, September 3rd.  Fans can hear just some of the band’s music now online at the band’s official Reverb Nation page,  There’s even a music video from the band on its page, too.  Audiences can also check out the band’s music on its official MySpace page,  And to keep up with all of the latest news from the band, fans can follow the band on Facebook at and on its official website,

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Phillip Anselmo Announces Debut Solo LP, Tour Dates

Courtesy:  Housecore Records/Herfitz PR

Courtesy: Housecore Records/Herfitz PR

Philip Anselmo will release his first ever solo album on Tuesday, July 16th.  The Down front man and former Pantera and Superjoint Ritual front man will release Walk Through Exits Only on his own label, Housecore Records.  The label is an imprint of MRI/Megaforce.  Anselmo’s solo debut was co-produced by Anselmo and Michael Thompson.  The material for the record had been recorded over the past couple of years at Anselmo’s New Orleans studio, Nodferatu’s Lair with his band, The Illegals (Marzi Montazeri—guitar, and Jose Manuel “Blue Gonzales—drums). 

Anselmo discussed the album in a recent interview.  He explained in the course of the interview that in writing and recording it, he didn’t want it to sound like so much fare that comprises the metal community today.  He explained that it is as straight forward as a metal record can be.  “It wasn’t about doing a paint-by-numbers thrash or heavy metal record,” he said.  “It’s an angry album that only I could do.  I don’t see anybody else out there screaming about the same shit I’m screaming about.  On this album, there isn’t any wordplay, there isn’t any hidden message, it’s all right there in front of you.” 

A tour is already set in support of the upcoming album.  It will begin on Wednesday, July 31st at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, OK.  The current slate of tour dates is available below.  To keep up with all of the latest updates on Anselmo’s tour and more, audiences can go online to and “Like” it. 


31   Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, OK



 2   Wooly’s, Des Moines, IA

 3   First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

 4   House of Blues, Chicago, IL

 6   House of Blues, Cleveland, OH

 7   The Intersection, Grand Rapids, MI

 9   Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI

10   Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ONT Canada

11   Heavy MTL Festival, Montreal, QC Canada

13   The Palladium, Worcester, MA

14   Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park, NY

16   Best Buy Theatre, New York, NY

17   Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA

18   The Fillmore, Silver Spring, MD

20   The Masquerade – Heaven Stage, Atlanta, GA


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