TesseracT Claims Top Honors In Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Hard Rock & Metal Albums List

Courtesy: Kscope records

This year has been a truly productive time for the metal community.  Veteran acts, up-and-comers and even the underground have produced offerings that have given the metal masses more than enough reason to put their horns in the air all year long.  The most notable acts who have released standout albums this year include, and are not limited to  from All Hail The Yeti, Judas Priest and Artillery just to name a few bands.

Keeping this in mind, rock and metal critics the world over will have to agree that developing a list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal offerings was a monumental task.  That was especially the case for this critic.  This critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums features new albums from bands from both sides of the Atlantic and from the mainstream and the underground.

Taking the top spot in this year’s list from Phil’s Picks is none other than the British prog-metal outfit TesseracT, Sonder.  The band’s latest offering is both musically and lyrically a truly in-depth offering that holds its own in the metal community and the prog community.

Second place this year goes to Florida’s own Nonpoint.  The band’s aptly-titled is a powerhouse offering from the veteran hard rock band that shows Nonpoint as a band at the top of its game both musically and lyrically.

Judas Priest takes the bronze this year with its new album Firepower.  This one was not an easy choice to make, as Nonpoint, Judas Priest and TesseracT are all outstanding bands in their own right.  Firepower harkens back to some of Judas Priest’s best work from days long gone, and is such a welcome album.  With lyrics that pay tribute to the military, that make a bold statement of standing up for one’s self and more, it is that much stronger, so it was not with ease that the album ended up in third.

Also featured in this year’s list are new albums from Artillery, All Hail The Yeti and Soulfly just to name a few more. As always, the top 10 albums are the main list while the five that follow are all honorable mention titles.  With all of this in mind, here is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Hard Rock and Metal Albums.


  1. TesseracT — Sonder
  2. Nonpoint — X
  3. Judas Priest — Firepower
  4. Between The Buried and Me — Automata
  5. Soulfly — Ritual
  6. Sevendust — All I See Is War
  7. All Hail The Yeti — Highway Crosses
  8. Exmortus — The Sound of Steel
  9. Artillery — The Face of Fear
  10. The Amsterdam Red Light District — Sapere Aude
  11. Ice Nine Kills — The Silver Scream
  12. Black Label Society — Grimmest Hits
  13. Unearth — Extinction(s)
  14. Atreyu — In Our Wake
  15. Zardonic — Become

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The Amsterdam Red Light District’s Latest LP Proves Again This Band Belongs In The Mainstream

Courtesy: Red Light Records

The Amsterdam Red Light District has finally returned. Early this month, the band released its latest album Sapere Aude. The band’s third full-length studio recording, this 10-song record is another solid new effort from the French four-piece and another work that shows the independent music scene has just as much to offer audiences as the mainstream realm. This is made obvious right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Nobody Moves Like You.’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘Carry On,’ the album’s mid-point — and possibly the album’s best offering –also shows what makes this record so strong. It will be discussed later. ‘Evil Stakeholders,’ the album’s penultimate track, is yet another example of what makes this album so impressive. It will also be discussed later. Of course it is not the last of the songs included in this album that shows its strengths. The other seven songs included in the album’s body are strong points in their own right here. Those songs, together with the works directly noted here, the whole of the album makes this latest effort from TARLD an easy candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new independent albums and hard rock/metal albums.

Sapere Aude, the latest full-length studio recording from France’s The Amsterdam Red Light District, is easily one of this year’s top new independent albums and one of its top new hard rock and metal albums. It is another of those albums that shows — over the course of its 35-minute run — that independent bands deserve just as much attention and credit as their more well-known counterparts. This is proven in this album right off the top in the album’s opener, ‘Nobody Moves Like You.’ In regards to its musical arrangement, it wastes no time at all grabbing listeners. Rather, the band launches almost immediately into the guitar-driven opus and keeps the energy full throttle right to the song’s end. That energy is a great compliment to the song’s lyrical content. That’s because,as it would seem, the song is one of those works that centers on a woman. That is inferred as front man Elio Sxone sings, “I see a smile growing up on your face/You can close your eyes, but your whole body shakes/Stop looking at me like this/And let your body feel the heat.” He also notes at one point in the song, “Nobody moves like you/You used to be so cool/What the f*** happened to you/You don’t feel different/But you don’t feel the same/I’ll give you something you don’t want to forget.” Considering all of this, the song seems to come across as the song’s subject singing to a woman to whom he perhaps had a connection but maybe no longer does. The Sxone’s energy in his vocal delivery, coupled with that of the song’s arrangement, hints at some pretty strong emotions of frustration and sarcasm; sort of as if this is someone saying, look at what you lost. It’s really an interesting work and certainly a strong first impression from the band this time out. It is only one of the album’s strong points, too. ‘Carry On’ is another of the album’s strongest offerings, if not its strongest.

‘Carry On’ is such an interesting work because as with the album’s opener, the pairing of its musical energy and lyrical content creates yet another powerful overall statement. As with ‘Nobody Moves Like You,’ this adrenaline-fueled rocker is very much a guitar-driven piece whose foundation is only strengthened even more by its rhythm section and Sxone’s powerhouse vocals. It is a song that will certainly appeal to fans of Stone Sour and Buckcherry. That sounds like an offbeat comparison, but those are the first bands to come to this critic’s mind. Interestingly enough, those influences work quite well here in keeping listeners engaged and entertained. This time out, the song seems centered on someone who has just been absolutely beaten down by the world and is struggling just to keep it together emotionally. This is inferred as Sxone sings, “I’m not the man I used to be/I am the one you never wanted to see/It’s not that I don’t like you, baby/It’s just that I hate everybody.” The seeming frustration doesn’t end here. He goes on to sing, “It comes alive when I lose control/My state of mind is so unstable/The only thing I know/You have to stop yelling at me when I try to talk/If you think I’m in trouble/Have you ever felt so paranoid?/The only thing I know/If something strange happens to me/You’ve got to keep control/This world makes me feel like I’m losing myself/If you’ve got a solution/I don’t need your help/Carry on.” Again, this seems to hint at someone who has just been torn down emotionally and psychologically. This is inferred even more in the song’s final verse in which Sxone sings, “I promise I’m not as bad as you think/If I don’t know myself, how can you know me anyway/My clear mind is doomed/F****** locked in a room.” This is a pretty strong statement, and one that is certain to reach plenty of listeners. What makes all of this so much more interesting here is that it’s not one of those brooding, goth songs that it could be, considering this wording. Instead, Sxone and his band mates have crafted a song that captures the frustration of someone angry over dealing with this seeming instability, someone who wants some form of stability. This makes the song all the more engaging for audiences, and in turn all the more clear an example of what makes the album in whole stand out. Even as strong as it is, it is not the last example of what makes Sapere Aude another enjoyable effort from TARLD. ‘Evil Stakeholders’ is one more example of what makes the album so impressive.

‘Evil Stakeholders’ speaks for itself just from its title alone. This is a sociopolitical commentary on the current state of the world. It expresses both musically and lyrically, anger and frustration at what the world’s political and other leaders have caused to happen to the planet’s people. Sxone sings here against a metalcore style arrangement, “I try to understand what they’re telling me on TV/Remote control in my hand/Are they watching me?/Spending our time like a flock of sheep/Mind your step/Keep your head up and follow me/Can’t you see that they try to split the world/Spreading their words/Tell us we can’t live together/How can’t you see/Look at me/I cannot breathe anymore/Who is right, who is wrong/How many tons of evil stakeholders/Now don’t you feel paranoid?” He goes on in similar fashion from here on out, even indicting those leaders for trying to bribe the masses to get the votes. Once more, Sxone and company have crafted another powerful statement here, a statement that is just as relevant today as it has ever been. A statement that likely will be relevant for decades to come, sadly. That statement, when coupled with its musical counterpart, goes a long way toward showing even more why the song stands out in this record, and why the record in whole stands out. It is a work that both musically and lyrically is certain to appeal to audiences around the world, yet still not the last of the album’s notable works. ‘Need,’ with its Prong-esque arrangement and commentary on capitalism and consumerism is another stand out effort, as is ‘Over The Fence’ with its defiant call to action against those who control the world and ‘Wild Life,’ which seems to encourage individuality versus being just another drone in the masses. Between those songs, the works more directly noted here and the remaining four songs not discussed here, it becomes clear what makes Sapere Aude a strong new offering from a great independent hard rock band.

Sapere Aude, the third full-length studio recording from The Amsterdam Red Light District, is a powerful new effort from the French hard rock outfit. It shows over the course of its 10-song, 35-minute run that independent acts deserve just as much credit and attention as any major name band. That is proven time and again here, as already noted, beginning with the album’s opener, which seems to center on a broken relationship that is anything but brooding. Rather it is empowering. ‘Carry On’ is another of those works that could have been brooding as it seems to center on personal emotional and psychological strife. Instead of being that brooding work that it could have been, is another impacting work that is certain to give listeners their own strength. That is because it lets them know they are not alone in their struggles. ‘Evil Stakeholders,’ with its blatant commentary on what’s happened to the world thanks to its political and business leaders and its equally stinging musical arrangement, helps the album stand out, too. There’s also the commentary on consumerism in ‘Need’ coupled with its Prong-esque musical arrangement, ‘Over The Fence’ with its defiant, fist-pumping call to action by the world’s people and ‘Wild Life,’ which seems to encourage people to stand up for themselves rather than just being another number, that stands out here. These songs, and the album’s other offerings taken into consideration, make Sapere Aude a great new effort from The Amsterdam Red Light District and — again — more proof of why independent acts deserve just as much attention and credit as their more well-known mainstream counterparts. It also collectively proves this record to be easily one of this year’s top new independent albums and hard rock/metal offerings. It is available now and can be ordered direct via the band’s website. more information on Sapere Aude is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Website: http://www.tarldtheband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tarld

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TARLD Could Be Around For A While Thanks To Its Sophomore Full-Length Studio Release

Courtesy:  Red Light Records

Courtesy: Red Light Records

French punk rock four-piece The Amsterdam Red Light District likely is not a band with which most American rock fans are familiar.  Over the course of almost ten years since its creation, The Amsterdam Red Light District has released two full-length studio albums and an EP.  The second of those full-length record, Gone For A While, was just recently released for the world to hear.  If the band’s latest album is any indication, The Amsterdam Red Light District will be around for a while rather than gone for a while.  That is the band will be around for a while given the chance by American radio programmers and open-minded audiences.  Those programmers and listeners that actually give this surprisingly enjoyable record a chance will hear an album that barely lets up from start to finish.  The frenetic energy established early on in the album’s opener carries throughout the course of the album’s roughly thirty-eight minute run time.  The only time that it lets up even the slightest bit comes halfway through the record in the short instrumental track ‘Final Boarding Call.’  That song runs just over ninety seconds.  But in that time it does plenty to help break up the record’s ten total tracks and in turn make Gone For A While a record that is a breath of fresh air within the realm of punk rock.  Right off the top, the band—Elio Sxone (vocals), Maxime Comby (guitars), Julien Chanel (drums), and Gregory Clert (bass)—sets quite the tone in the album’s opener ‘Time Flies.’  Both musically and lyrically, ‘Time Flies’ grabs listeners by the ear and the mind and refuses to let go.  Sxone waxes philosophical in this seemingly singing about letting go of all of life’s negatives and remembering life’s positives.  That supposed message set against the song’s manic energy makes it a wonderful first impression from the band on this record.  The seeming lyrical and musical positivity exuded by the band in the album’s opener is carried right over into the album’s second song ‘Just Have a Good Time.’  Lyrically, it presents something of a carpe diem message.  And again, that same wild energy presented in the album’s opener is quite prominent here with the song actually bordering between hard rock and punk.  It’s one more clear cut example of what makes this record stand out so brightly among all of the other hard rock and punk bands out there today.  If the energy and the messages of the first two songs on Gone For A While aren’t enough for listeners, then ‘Million Miles Away’ is sure to get listeners moving.  While it maintains the same musical energy of the album’s first two songs, it does change things up lyrically.   This time, Sxone covers the standard topic of a broken relationship.  But it isn’t one of those typical ‘Oh woe is me’ type of songs.  Rather it is a proud moment in which Sxone’s subject exits the relationship with pride.  The song’s musical backing adds quite a bit of punch to the song, too.  And while it is the third track in on the record, it is still just the beginning of the ride presented in Gone For A While.  By the time the album ends, listeners will agree that in Gone For A While, The Amsterdam Red Light District is sure to be around for a while.

The Amsterdam Red Light District has proven on its sophomore full-length record that given the right support from American listeners and radio programmers alike that this band is sure to be around for a while.  The band and its new album stand out from so many of the punk bands that populate punk’s various sub-genres from start to finish on this record.  The album walks a fine line between the worlds of punk and even hard rock without ever letting itself get bogged down into any of those sub-genres in question from start to finish.  This is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Time Flies.’  ‘Time Flies’ is such a strong start for TARLD due to the juxtaposition of its almost philosophical yet seemingly optimistic lyrics and manic musical energy.  Front man Elio Sxone sings against the song’s musical backing, “I found myself alone/I found myself in the desert/I had nothing but a piece of paper/I found myself alone/Can someone tell me what happened/Here is what I wrote to you in this letter/This is not the real world/If life seems so unreal to you/Keep your eyes fixed on the sun/Time flies but memories will stay with you.”  Sxone is speaking metaphorically, obviously. He seems to come across as saying, if life doesn’t feel like it should, then look for the positives in life (I.E. life’s memories).  That argument is made stronger as Sxone sings, “I can see many faces/Standing in the rain/Their lives seem to fade away/I’ve seen so many people/Waiting for someone who could save them/Looking for some better day.  He goes on to sing the previously noted chorus, reminding listeners “Time flies but memories will stay with you.”  Again, it seems as if Sxone is reminding listeners that no matter what, there will always be positives in life, even if they’re in the past.  Such a possibly positive message set against an equally powerful musical backing proves this song to be the perfect first impression from TARLD on its new album, an album that is anything but a sophomore slump.

TARLD sets a great tone for listeners with the opener Gone For A While.  The song mixes a musical backing that is sure to have listeners on their feet with a lyrical message that seems to send a positive message to listeners.  The end result is a song that every listener will love regardless of their familiarity with the band.  It is just as solid a first impression for those that are new to TARLD’s music as for those that have been following the band since its inception nearly a decade ago.  The positive vibe exuded by the band in its new album’s opener doesn’t let up after the song ends.  In fact, that same energy is carried over into the album’s second song, ‘Just Have A Good Time.’  This song leaves no question as to its message as Sxone sings about making the most of life.  He sings against the song’s full-on musical backing, “Not gonna be the one/To stay there/Waiting to the end/Not gonna be the one/Just talking to myself/Heaven can wait/We’ve got something to do tonight/So don’t be late/Don’t be late/You will not be the same when the morning comes.”  Simply put, Sxone comes across as expressing the sentiment that a single day can make all the difference in a person’s life.  And that would go right along with what seems to be the song’s overall theme of taking life by the proverbial horns.  He goes on to sing, “Jump into the crowd/We’re outside in the middle of the night/Just have a good time.”  It echoes the previous line’s sentiment of making the most of each day.  And again, set against the song’s thrill ride of a musical backing, the song is even more of a wonderful representative of what Gone For A While has to offer audiences.

Both ‘Time Flies’ and ‘Just Have A Good Time’ are excellent examples of what TARLD has to offer audiences in Gone For A While.  They are hardly all that the band has to offer audiences, either.  The album’s third track, ‘Million Miles Away’ is proof of that.  The song tackles the standard lyrical topic of a broken relationship.  But unlike so many other songs of its ilk, ‘Million Miles Away’ takes the road less traveled, presenting a man that has made a clean break in said relationship.  As Sxone sings in this song, “I’m driving this car a million miles away/A million miles away from you/There’s nothin’ you can do/I’m driving away from you/Because you know it’s over now/Put the pedal to the metal/I wouldn’t come back anymore/Cause tonight, tonight I’m on the road/And I will not be alone.”  Such a defiant tone in a song that tackles such a standard subject makes the song shine amongst all of those songs.  It makes the song well worth the listen by itself.  The song’s equally driving musical backing adds to the song’s edge, making it even more of a success.  Sxone goes on to essentially sing about how he is headed full steam ahead and not looking back as he sings, “Pretty girls, long legs/Tonight is gonna be perfect/Because you know we’re just men/Dancing with ladies all night long/We’re gonna tear this place down/And I will not be alone.”  There are other songs out there that take a similarly defiant tone in covering such a subject. But they are few and far between.  Even with there being other songs of this style out there, the more self-pitying style ballads still outnumber the more head-held-high moments.  That knowledge makes this song even more of a welcome addition to Gone For A While. It is one more addition that along with every one of the songs that follow makes Gone For A While an album that is just as enjoyable as any of its more well-known major label counterparts.

Gone For A While is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct via the band’s website at http://www.tarld.bigcartel.com/product/gone-for-a-while-lp-2014.  Audiences will also be able to purchase the band’s new album in February when it gets back on the road.  The band currently has a number of performance dates in Spain beginning Friday, February 27th.  The band’s current tour schedule runs nine dates from February 27th – March 7th.  Full details are TBA.  Audiences can keep up with those details and all of the band’s latest news online at:

Website: http://www.tarldtheband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tarldtheband

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.