Vokonis’ Latest LP Offers Listeners An Enjoyable Musical Odyssey

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Prog-metal outfit Vokonis has quietly made quite the name for itself in the past few years or so with its existing trio of records.  That name will grow in notoriety Friday when it releases its fourth album, Odyssey.  The six song record is a work that definitely holds its own against its metal and prog-metal counterparts, both more well-known and lesser.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements adds to the record’s success.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make the 40-minute album a must hear for any metal purist.

Vokonis’ forthcoming fourth album Odyssey is a unique addition to this year’s crop of new independent and hard rock/metal albums.  It is a record that provided the proper support, is certain to continue building the band’s name within the noted genres.  That is proven in part through the album’s featured musical arrangements.  Throughout the course of the album’s 40-minute run time, it incorporates a variety of influences in each arrangement to make its whole.  ‘Rebellion,’ the album’s opener for instance, opens with a guitar riff that would fit easily into any active rock radio programmer’s playlist.  As the vocals come into play, the guttural screams from front man Simon Ohlsson lend themselves to comparison to those of Crowbar front man Kirk Windstein.  The more melodic, clean vocals from Ohlsson’s band mates – Jonte Johansson (bass, vocals), Peter Ottosson (drums, percussion), and Per Wiberg (keyboards) – make for more of a Tool-esque sound.  The two stylistic approaches are vastly different, but used against one another, somehow manage to work.  The full-on wall of sound approach that the band uses here is also comparable to that of Crowbar.  It all sounds very raucous, but at the same time controlled in its chaotic approach.  It is just one example of how the album’s musical content plays into its appeal.

On a completely different note, the musical arrangement that is presented in the late entry ‘Hollow Waters’ lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Leprous, as well as to those of Crowbar.  The Leprous comparison comes in the choruses with their full yet somewhat ethereal sound.  It makes for a welcome change of pace to ensure listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  As with ‘Rebellion,’ this song’s arrangement is just one more example of what make the album’s musical content so noteworthy.  ‘Blackened Wings,’ the album’s lead single, is yet another example of how the power and variety in the album’s musical content makes it successful.

‘Blackened Wings’ is just as busy and loud as any of the album’s other arrangements.  Yet even in that controlled chaos, there is something so engaging.  The guttural death/black metal style screams set alongside the song’s death metal guitars lend themselves to comparisons to works from Between the Buried and Me.  The contrast of that sound to the cleaner, heavy, sludge metal style approach to the rest of the song makes for even more interest here.  The expert balance of those distinctly differing styles speaks highly of the production that went into the album.  This aspect will be discussed later.  Staying on the topic at hand, this song’s arrangement does just as much as those already examined and the rest of the album’s works, to show why the diverse influences and power in the arrangements make them so important to the album.  The whole of the album’s musical arrangements, including the clear Dream Theater influence exhibited in ‘Azure,’ creates a solid foundation for Odyssey.  Building on that foundation is the lyrical content that accompanies the album’s intense musical content.

The lyrical themes that are presented throughout Odyssey will make for just as much engagement as the musical arrangements that they join.  Case in point is the lyrical content featured in ‘Hollow Waters.’  The song’s lyrical content seems rather nihilistic on the surface, what with the mentions of the “Circle of sorrow/Closing in on you” and everything bad going on in the world.”  However, the song’s lyrical theme ultimately is one of hope.  This is pointed out in the song’s second verse, which states, “Cities will fall/Empires crumble/Hope can prevail/We will follow/Forests will burn/Under the scourge/Lead us again through these faraway lands.”  The message of hope is raised again in the song’s third verse, which finds Ohlsson singing, “Wrath of the scorned/Born of fire/Tainted fury leads to nothing/Let it all pass/Open yourself/Lead us away  through  these faraway lands.”  That positive message is delivered once more in the song’s final verse, stating, “The everlasting light/Is the flame of eternity.”  These notes and the rest of the song’s lyrical content join to form a unique approach to a welcome theme.  When that theme joins with the song’s already noted equally unique musical arrangement, it shows in whole why the album in whole is so powerful.

The lyrical content featured in the album’s title track is another example of what makes it such a strong new offering from Vokonis.  This song’s lyrical content seems (at least in the ears and mind of this critic) to deliver a message of living life and facing life’s challenges.  Again, this is only this critic’s interpretation.  The inference is made as Ohlsson sings about overcoming “the final step” and the “Beacon of tranquility” shining “upon us all/Light of serenity/Essence of the divine.”  It’s one more unique lyrical presentation from Vokonis on its latest outing that is certain to keep any listener engaged.  When this original presentation is considered along with the other content examined here and the rest of the album’s lyrical content, that whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of said content.  When the album’s collective lyrical content pairs with the record’s equally powerful musical arrangements, that body makes for even more engagement and entertainment.  Even with that in mind, it is only a portion of what make the album such a surprisingly engaging and entertaining work.  The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.

As was noted earlier, the songs featured throughout Odyssey each utilize a powerful wall of sound style approach, as well as other elements and influences.  Considering how much goes on throughout the album, those behind the glass had to pay exceptional attention to every minute detail.  Luckily, that painstaking attention to detail paid off from beginning to end.  The result is a record that even being so active and full, completely engages and entertains.  Keeping all of this in mind, the album proves to be a surprisingly impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.

Vokonis’ forthcoming album Odyssey is a strong new presentation from the already established prog-metal outfit from Sweden.  It is a work that serves as a strong starting point for those audiences who are less familiar with the band and its catalog and an equally new offering for the band’s established fan base.  That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements exhibit a wide range of influences, not just prog-metal.  That applies within each song and from one to the next.  The lyrical content featured throughout the album adds to its interest.  It is presented in truly unique fashion even as it touches on what seem to be some familiar topics.  The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.  It ensures that even as busy as each song is, the record’s arrangements do not become muddied and worn down in   themselves.  The result of the work put in through the album’s production is an album that will appeal aesthetically just as much as for its content.  It all makes the album a musical odyssey that any metal purist will be glad he or she took.  More information on Odyssey is available along with all of Vokonis’ latest news at:

Website: https://vokonis.bandcamp.com  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialVokonis

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.  

‘Timeless’ Is A Strong Start To Of Mice & Men’s Busy 2021 Schedule

Courtesy: Sharptone Records

Veteran metalcore band Of Mice & Men has quite the schedule planned for 2021.  The band, which released its most recent album in 2019 in the form of EARTHANDSKY, will release three EPs and a new album all in this year.  The band will kick off its busy schedule of new records Feb. 26 with the first of those new EPs, Timeless.  The three-song record is a strong start to the band’s schedule.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements add their own touch to the EP’s presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The EP’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the record’s musical and lyrical content, the whole makes the EP a strong start to a very busy year for Of Mice & Men.

OF Mice & Men’s forthcoming EP Timeless is a strong start for the band’s apparently very busy 2021 schedule.  The first of what will apparently be four new releases this year, the three-song record proves its success in part through its musical arrangements.  According to guitarist Alan Ashby, much of the music that the band has planned for release this year “began on the keyboard as opposed to the guitar.”  If in fact that is the case, then it does not show.  That is because the songs featured in this EP are very much guitar-centric works.  They are just as heavy as anything that the band has ever crafted.  At the same time, the arrangements also produce some variety for listeners to appreciate.  Case in point is the variance in the arrangements for the EP’s singles ‘Timeless’ and ‘Obsolete’ even through their similarities.  Each song’s arrangement is distinctly metalcore at its base.  There is no denying that.  Even with that in mind, the two arrangements do present some subtle differences.  ‘Obsolete,’ the EP’s lead single, exhibits more of a melodic metalcore approach while the EP’s title track – its second single – is a much sharper, more edgy composition.  That more melodic approach to ‘Obsolete’ lends that song’s arrangement to comparison to works from the likes of Killswitch Engage while ‘Timeless’ noted more defined sound likens it more to works from the likes of As I Lay Dying.  ‘Anchor,’ which closes out the EP, is the most unique of the record’s arrangements.  That is because it is so much unlike the arrangements  featured in ‘Obsolete’ and ‘Timeless.’  Rather, it is the EP’s most marketable and radio ready arrangement, blending elements of  Sevendust and Tool for its whole.  Its guitars, bass, and drums work with the keyboard line here to give the song a distinct melodic hard rock approach and sound that makes it a perfect fir for any active rock radio station’s current play list.  Front man Aaron Pauley’s vocals add to the impact, even showing influence from Tool front man Maynard James Keenan in the song’s more contemplative moments.  That against the more fiery moments in the song and Pauley’s delivery therein makes the song overall that much more enjoyable.  All things considered here, the musical arrangements that are featured in Timeless collectively for a solid foundation for the record.  That is because of the variance that they exhibit from one to the next.  For all that Timeless’ musical content does for its presentation, that content is just a portion of what makes the record stand out.  Its lyrical content builds on the foundation formed by its music.

The lyrical content that is featured in Timeless follows a central theme of existentialism.  Pauley himself has already pointed that out without doing so as he talked about the lyrical themes in ‘Obsolete’ and ‘Timeless.’  He noted of ‘Obsolete’ that the song’s lyrical content ruminates on our own obsolescence and our place in the world as time passes.  In  talking about the song’s theme he said, “It’s a song about questioning how future-proof one is in the grand scheme of things, and acknowledging that maybe we aren’t at all. I think we all wonder, to a certain extent, whether or not we’ll fit into the future, or how we would, or what that would look like,” he said. “Obsolescence is very prevalent in our lives. We see how quickly old phones become virtually useless, how quickly fads and trends come and go. It’s all too easy to ponder about when you’ll become a covered wagon, or a flip phone, or Myspace.”

Pauley’s comments about the lyrical theme of ‘Obsolete’ are solidified in noting the song’s lyrical content directly.  Pauley sings in the song’s lead verse, “For a thousand days I watched the vultures circle overhead/And I counted the ways the world would be blessed when I finally reached my end/And I felt the weight of the world pushing me into the soil below/And I felt the desert sun above, while I tried to drink water from a stone.”  While this verse is rather brooding, things do turn better, as is evidenced in the song’s chorus, in which the song’s subject states, “But I’m not ready to die alone/So can you wake me from my sleep/And show me now that this is just a dream?/’Cause I’m a whisper, once a scream/And I’m afraid of what’s in store for me/Becoming obsolete.”  He  contemplation continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “Another frozen frame/Another glitch inside my consciousness/So I pick my poison and just choke it down until I start to spin/And while the world just slowly turns, I fade like fog into the sea/While the mighty galleon burns around me, I slowly start to sink.”  The subject finishes the rumination here as states, “Maybe I’m not ready to be set free/Maybe these shackles are what I need/If you find the answers, come rescue me/But I can’t hold my breath” before telling others once more to “Wake me from my sleep/And show me now that this is just a dream/’Cause I’m a whisper, once a scream/And I’m afraid of what’s in store for me/Becoming obsolete.”  Considering the overly brooding nature of all of this lyrical content, it would have been easy for the band to have gone a more goth route here, but it instead opted to go in another direction.  That direction is more along the lines of showing someone who is torn in his thoughts, finding them racing in every direction.  Keeping all of that in mind, the song’s lyrical content does its own share to show what makes Timeless’ lyrical content as important as its musical arrangements.  It is just one of the ways in which the record’s lyrical content shows its importance.  That of the EP’s title track does its own share to show that importance.

The lyrical content featured in ‘Timeless’ is just as existential in its nature as that of ‘Obsolete,’ as explained by Pauley.

“‘Timeless’ is a song about becoming increasingly aware of impermanence, written through somewhat of a somber, yet romantic, lens,” said Pauley.  “At the beginning of the pandemic, I was watching a lot of black and white movies. One of my favorite movies is Casablanca. I wonder if any original copies exist. You know, although that movie is universally regarded as being timeless, the actual celluloid is so fragile. But I think we find a special kind of vibrance in life when we’re aware of our own impermanence.”

His comments here are made even clearer in the song’s lyrical content, which starts off stating, “Is this what it’s like to shed your skin/To be reborn?/Adrift in a sea of noise/Unable to remember what came before/The fragments replay/But they’re out of place/My voice/Distant/Like a stand-in/Just out of frame.”  The song’s second verse adds to the picture as it states, “Is this what it’s like to feel serene and unaware?/Like silhouettes on celluloid/We’re timeless but oh so impermanent/Becoming blurs in the negatives/But I swear to God we’re timeless.”  Simply put, what is being communicated here is a message that we realize the fragility and importance of life as we get older and look back.  So yes, it is more existentialist rumination, but it is a positive statement nonetheless.  It is a statement that is certain to resonate with listeners in its own right. It is just one more way in which the EP’s lyrical content proves so important to the record.  The lyrical content featured in the EP’s closer, ‘Anchor’ does its own share to show that   importance, too.

‘Anchor’ is the only single not yet released from Timeless, so no discussion is available from Pauley on this song, nor are readily accessible lyrics.  However, from what one can interpret without those lyrics, the song’s theme seems to center on its own existential topic.  At one point, the song’s subject notes something “pulling me down.”  At another point, there is mention of “Shifting the blame/Without another place to hide” before the song’s subject asks, “What lies ahead?/Is it another misguided, sad attempt/I’m  searching for anything/But I haven’t seen the sun in days.”  Again, not having lyrics to reference, much of the song’s lyrical content is difficult to translate.  However, from what one can translate, the lyrical content here would seem to be its own existential piece, which allegedly focuses on the subject’s attempt to find his place in the world and where he is headed.  That is just this critic’s interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  That aside, it still seems that the lyrical theme here is its own existentialist discussion, so it still follows that overarching lyrical theme, just in its own unique fashion, too.  Keeping this in mind along with the other ways in which the EP’s lyrical content follows that theme, no doubt is left as to the lyrical content featured in Timeless.  It does plenty in itself to make the EP engaging and entertaining, but still is not the last of the EP’s most important elements.  The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation.

Timeless’ sequencing is just as important to examine as that of any larger record, even being an EP.  The EP’s sequencing is  important in part because it ensures that even at only three songs deep, its musical arrangements change up just enough from one to the next, giving listeners quite the accent in that final number.  Additionally, the sequencing ensures that while all three songs follow the same central lyrical theme, the ways in which they follow that theme change from one to the next, making for even more appeal.  Last but most certainly not least of note is the way in which the sequencing balances the EP’s energy.  ‘Obsolete’ and ‘Timeless’ are each very high energy compositions, in regards to their musical arrangements.  Considering all of the energy that is exuded by those songs, the more deliberate, controlled approach to ‘Anchor’ gives listeners a welcome change of pace and stylistic approach.  Even with the change in style, the song still boasts its own strong energy, closing out the EP just as strongly as it opened.  When this is considered with the role of the EP’s sequencing in regards to its lyrical and musical content’s order, the importance of the EP’s sequencing becomes clearer.  When its importance is considered with that of the record’s overall content, all three elements join to make Timeless a presentation that is a good start to Of Mice & Men’s apparently very   busy 2021 schedule.  They additionally make the record just one more of this year’s top new EPs.  Timeless is scheduled for release Feb. 26 through SharpTone Records.

More information on Of Mice and Men’s new EP is available now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.ofmiceandmenofficial

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ofmice

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OMandM

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

Fates Warning Proves Its Pedigree Once Again With Its Latest LP

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Fates Warning is scheduled to release its latest album next week.  The album, Long Day Good Night is the best work to date from the veteran prog-metal band  The musical arrangements and lyrical content that make up the body of the 72-minute (one hour, 12 minutes) record support that statement.  It is the heaviest record that the band has made in its 35 year history, even in its more subdued moments.  Its lyrical themes are heavy in their own right, too.  That is shown early on in the 13-song record in the form of ‘The Way Home.’  This song will be addressed shortly.  ‘The Longest Shadow of the Day,’ the album’s penultimate (and longest) track is another example of how the record’s musical and lyrical content comes together to make the LP such a strong new offering from the band.  ‘When Snow Falls,’ which comes late in the record’s run, is another important addition to the album.  It will be discussed later, too.  All three songs noted here are key in their own ways to the whole of this record.  When they are considered alongside the ten other songs that make up the rest of the record, the whole of the record proves itself to be a solid return for Fates Warning and, again, some of the band’s best work to date.

Fates Warning’s forthcoming album Long Day Good Night is unquestionably a statement record from the band.  It is a presentation that reminds audiences why Fates Warning is one of the elite acts in the progressive metal world, with its combined musical and lyrical content.  That is proven in part early in through the song ‘The Way Home.’  The song’s musical arrangement forms its foundation, starting off in a very relaxed, almost ballad-esque fashion.  This approach is deceiving, as the band eventually changes directions approximately two-and-a-half minutes into the song, though.  The band shifts from the noted saccharine sweet ballad type approach here to a more eerie, foreboding sound that then evolves into something very heavy a la Tool, believe it or no.  What is really interesting to note of that influence is that while it is there throughout the rest of the arrangement, the band members still manage to keep Fates Warning’s trademark stylistic approach at the fore, balancing it with the noted “dark prog” sound for a whole that stands strong on its own merits.  The change in stylistic approach works well with the song’s lyrical content, which seems to tell a coming-of-age type story.

The noted seeming story is presented with front man Ray Alder singing in the song’s lead and second verses, Say goodbye you’re going home/Your heart aglow/You think about the times you were/Holding on to those who’ve always shown/That the world is sometimes not so cold/And the time is come for you to go now/Stepping into the unknown/Hoping that you won’t feel alone anymore/So you put your faith blindly/In someone else’s hands to take control/But how were you to know/That something in the night was wrong/So you take your final step through the door.”  From here, the mood changes, with the song’s subject seeming to change quite a bit in the second verse, which finds Alder singing, “Innocence/Nothing remains/Indifference is hard to contain/One step away from falling from grace/Learn how to live without somehow/Vanity/Farewell to sacred sanity/It’s rusted, decayed/All that’s inside is eating alive/The damage is done, forget the way home.”  The song’s seeming chorus adds to the noted interpretation, as it states, “Waiting in vain, there at night/Silence the only answer/Fading away into the night, into the immense unknown/Those final words/That goodbye/Those thoughts you’ll hold forever/Escaping pain, forsaking light, can we find the way home?”  That final question, “Can we find the way home?” almost seems to hint at someone asking can we get back to that innocence that we as a people had before leaving that security and certainty of our little worlds, because the world has become such a negative place.  This is, as always, just this critic’s own interpretation.  Hopefully it is close to being accurate.  Regardless, the story that is told lyrically and musically here makes for a positive example of what makes Fates Warning’s new album itself such a strong new album.  It is just one of the songs that makes the album stand out, too.  ‘The Longest Shadow of the Day’ is another clear example of what makes Long Day Good Night an appealing new record.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘The Longest Shadow of the Day’ is unlike anything else featured in this record.  It goes I so many directions over the course of its nearly eleven-and-a-half minute run time, but still manages to keep listeners fully engaged and entertained throughout.  It opens with a bass-centered approach that comes across as a sort of jazz-fusion work.  Approximately three minutes into the arrangement, it evolves from that jazz-fusion style approach to a sort of hybrid prog/death metal style sound, as is evidenced through the guitar lines, bass, and drums.  It isn’t even until almost six minutes into the song (more than halfway through the multi-movement composition) that the song’s lyrical content comes into play.  Before getting to the song’s lyrical theme, it should be noted as the song enters this final movement, a distinct Pink Floyd influence becomes audible alongside the band’s trademark heaviness.  That and everything else noted here makes the arrangement in whole such a standout addition to this record.

The song’s musical arrangement is just one aspect of what makes the song stand out.  Its deeply metaphorical lyrical content adds its own punch to the composition.  The lyrical theme in question comes across as a philosophical discussion on at least one aspect of the human condition.  In this case that aspect would seem to be the fact that we as humans are imperfect and capable of failure.  This is inferred in the song’s lead verse as Alder sings, “The longest shadow of the day/Stretches out into the gray/Paints our flight in softening light/Bends our aim to the night/The longest shadow of the day/Reaches out along the way/Shrouds our sight in failing light/Turns our gaze to the night.”  The song’s second verse hints at the noted theme just as much as Alder sings, “We all will go down/We all fall prey/Lose the fight to the dying light/The longest shadow of the day.”

That note that “We all fall prey/Lose the fight to the dying light/The longest shadow of the day” is perhaps one of the clearest statement of all here about the noted theme.  It’s as if Alder is singing about the fact that we are all imperfect and that we all fail in life at points.  This, again, is this critic’s interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  One could actually argue just as much that maybe this song is actually lyrically about mankind’s refusal to accept his mortality.  Again, it is all open to interpretation.  Regardless of interpretation, the fact that Alder and company have crafted such a lyrical presentation that can generate so much discussion is a statement in itself.  When this is considered along with the discussions sure to come from the song’s musical arrangement, the whole shows without question even more why it is another of this album’s most notable works.  It still is not the last of the album’s most prominent works.  ‘When Snow Falls,’ which comes late in the album’s run is yet another example of what makes Long Day Good Night such a strong return for Fates Warning.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘When Snow Falls’ is another work that shows a clear Tool influence.  The subtle guitar lines and their layering couples with the equally controlled drums and vocals to give the song such a mysterious sense.  The addition of the vibraphone as a backing element adds even more interest to the composition.  As the song progresses, the already noted Pink Floyd influence becomes audible, too.  That the band balanced all of these influences for yet another original composition here is more than worthy of applause.  It makes the song’s arrangement in itself more than enough reason for audiences to take in this work.  The arrangement couples with the song’s introspective and contemplative lyrical content to make for even more interest.

The lyrical theme featured in this song is another deeply metaphorical message.  Alder sings here in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “We betray innocence/When we choose to stray beyond the fence/Now its dawn/Sky is gray/And the path before us fades away/And snow falls now blinding me/Through the dark we have to feel/Our way back home.”  He adds in the song’s second verse, “I felt safe in that bed/In a way I’m sure you’d understand/But snow falls now/I know I’m lost/Looking back I cannot count the cost.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Holding on desperately/To a world that’s wrong for me/And I know it’s cold outside/Just say goodbye.”  It is almost as if what this song is stating is that we make our own paths in life, and it is up to us to find our way through each situation, even with the obstacles.  That is once more just this critic’s own interpretation.  Hopefully it is close to being correct.  Regardless, that the song is so deep, lyrically, in its own right is worthy of applause, too.  The song is even more worthy of applause when this deep lyrical content is considered alongside the song’s musical arrangement.  When the whole of this work is considered along with the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole shows without doubt why it is such a strong new offering from Fates Warning.

Long Day Good Night is a welcome new return for Fates Warning.  The 13-song, 72-minute record is a presentation that once again shows why this band is to this day, one of the elite acts in the prog-metal community.  That is evidenced through the record’s musical and lyrical content alike.  All three of the songs examined here support the noted statements.  All things considered, Long Day Good Night is a record that prog-metal fans and Fates Warning’s fans alike will welcome into their home libraries.  The album is scheduled for release Nov. 6 through Metal Blade Records.

More information on Long Day Good Night is available online now along with all of Fates Warning’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.fateswarning.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/FatesWarning

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/fateswarning

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

Junkowl’s Debut LP Is One Of This Year’s Most Unique New Hard Rock & Metal Albums

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Up-and-coming hard rock band Junkowl has made quite the name for itself since its formation in 2017.  Only two years after it got its start, the band won a competition earning itself a spot on the lineup for the 2019 Heavy Montreal Festival.  The annual two-day festival is Canada’s most renowned heavy music events.  This year, it was set to feature performances from the likes of Sepultura, Rammstein, and Deftones, just to name a few of the big names on the bill.  Thanks to COVID-19 the festival was postponed until next summer.  In past years, the festival has welcomed other major name acts, such as Slipknot, Overkill, and Rob Zombie.  Getting back on the subject, that Junkowl has been invited to perform at the renowned festival speaks volumes about its own reputation and talent.  Late last month, the band set out to keep its name growing when it released its debut album Making Out With My Death.  The 10-song record is a strong debut for the band.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  The album’s lyrical content also plays into its presentation, and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the album’s overall content, all three elements join to make the record a very powerful debut from Junkowl that hard rock and metal fans will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Junkow’s debut album Making Out With My Death is a powerful new offering from the independent hard rock band.  That is due in part to the record’s musical arrangements.  The album’s overall musical content exhibits a variety of influences throughout the course of its 34-minute run time.  Right from the album’s outset, audiences get a hint of a Tool influence in ‘Snakecharmer.’  Roughly a minute into the song, that influence gives way to something much heavier yet still very melodic in its own right in the vein of Dry Kill Logic, 36 Crazyfists, and All Hail The Yeti.  The fire in the song’s arrangement plays directly into the song’s lyrical arrangement, which is just as powerful in its own right and will be addressed a little later.  Front man Jesse Frechette’s screams work with each of his band mates – Dom Labrie (drums), Marco Larosa (guitar), and Samuel Matte (bass) – to make this arrangement a massively impacting first impression from the band and an equally impacting way to introduce audiences to the band.

The album’s sound changes distinctly in its second offering, ‘Quarantine Us All.’  This song’s arrangement is sort of a hybrid metal/punk approach that while it exhibits the noted influences in its own right, it also presents a stylistic approach that can be compared somewhat to Motorhead and various sludge metal bands.  That sounds like quite the odd combination of styles mixed into one, but the hybrid works surprisingly well here.  It will keep listeners engaged just as much as the album’s opener.  As the album makes its way into its third song, ‘Shake Me,’ it moves more into an aggro-rock style approach, showing once again, the variety of stylistic approaches taken in the album’s musical arrangements.  The sludge metal sound is even more prominent in the album’s fourth song, ‘Dead Hooker,’ while the Tool influence returns in the album’s midpoint, ‘Little Scum.’  Larosa’s guitar line and Labrie’s work behind the kit is reminiscent of the arrangement at the center of Tool’s song ‘Lateralus.’  Now it should be stressed that even with the similarity there, Junkowl’s arrangement is not entirely identical.  It holds its own identity.  So the band is to be commended for that.  What’s more, the Tool influence is only temporary once again in this case.  It eventually gives way to something much heavier roughly a minute into the song.  The duality of that approach, along with Frechette’s distinct vocal delivery style, makes this song just as unique as the rest of the album’s arrangements.  It’s just one more way in which the album’s musical content proves so important.

As the album enters its second half, the band opts for a more Depeche Mode-influenced work in ‘Crawling Up My Feet.’  What’s interesting here is that the manner in which the arrangement builds up conjures thoughts more of Marilyn Manson’s take on the song than Depeche Mode’s original composition.  The heaviness carries listeners on through the rest of the album from this point, letting up little if any, even in the album’s closer.  By the time the record ends, listeners will know they have experienced a unique overall hard rock presentation that will leave them wholly fulfilled even though the record’s run time comes in at just over half an hour.  It leaves listeners feeling like they have gotten the fullest offering from the band, at least musically speaking.  To that end, there is no doubt as to the importance of this album’s musical content.  The whole of the album’s musical content shows without doubt, its importance to the album’s overall presentation.  It is just one reason that hard rock and metal fans will want to hear this album at least once.  Its lyrical content plays its own part into its presentation, too.

The lyrical content that is featured throughout Making Out With My Death is just as heavy as its musical counterpart.  The album’s overall lyrical content is so heavy because it delves into some topics and possible topics that many acts (regardless of genre) are afraid to touch.  Case in point is the content featured in ‘Relapse.’  The song seemingly addresses someone trying to get over drug addiction, and does so in a very unafraid fashion.  This is inferred as Frechette screams in the song’s lead verse, I can’t come down/No, I can’t come down/I can’t come down/No, I can’t come down/*** damn, I’m finally free/Not too much left in me/Scrap of integrity/Too blurry, I can’t see/Breathe still, let go/Broken, I know/Think I might last/Hold tight, relapse/The bottle hits my lip/How easy I forget/Cocaine and cigarettes/Making out with my death.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “No, I can’t come down/Aching to break away/Oh, I am nothing but a stain/A lump of coal in your veins/I’ll only bring you pain/Breathe still, let go/Broken, I know/Think I might last Hold tight, relapse.”  The song’s chorus finds its subject screaming, almost painfully, “I can’t seem to come down.”  The pain that the subject is dealing with emotionally and physically is translated so well through this simple statement and its pairing with the song’s musical arrangement.  All thing considered here, no doubt is left as to the song’s lyrical topic.  What’s more the way in which the topic was approached adds to its strength.  It is just one way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to the record’s overall presentation.  The lyrical content (and its presentation) in the album’s opener, ‘ Snakecharmer’ is another key example of what makes the album’s lyrical content stand out.

‘Snakecharmer’ comes across as a song that addresses a situation involving domestic abuse and possibly that as a result of some mental disease that ends very badly.  The song opens with the subject stating, ‘Yeah/She’s sleeping in my bed/She knows every word that I’ve ever said/I breathe her in/She spits me out/Death echoes silent inside her mouth/Tell me this/Is your love worth bleeding, darling?/Or are you just another succubus?/Either way, I’m not sorry.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I swear I tried one thousand times to rip this demon from my mind/No matter how hard I scream/I still see her in my dreams/Tell me this, Is your love worth bleeding, darling?/Or are you just another succubus?/Either way, I’m not sorry/Kill, Fuck Blow your brains out/ Blow my brains out.”  As already noted, this story does not have a happy ending.  That mention of “I tried one thousand times to rip this demon from my mind” could allude to the subject dealing with the issue of fighting his own inner concerns, whether brought on by drugs or just mental instability.  That battle ultimately did not end well, as the song hints.  Again, this is a very difficult issue that while more acts are tackling, few are handling it in the fashion in which Junkowl did.  Keeping that in mind, it is another key point in addressing the album’s lyrical content, and not the last of the album’s most notable lyrical entries, too.  ‘Sickness Lives’ is another notable lyrical presentation to address.

‘Sickness Lives’ stands out lyrically because it, too, seems to take on the issue of addiction and dependency, too.  This is inferred as Frechette notes in the song’s lead verse, ““I’m sick of living dead in this prison/Wake up, fuck the system/Laughing alone in madness/Drinking away the sadness/Living dead in this prison/Wake up, fuck the system/Strung out on medication/What an abomination/I feel it growing inside/Petrified, paralyzed/It’s eating me alive.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I don’t want to be sober/Every day I’m growing colder/My heart’s become so heavy/Where is the end? Will someone tell me?/Screaming to block out the sound/This place is a fucking letdown/If I die before I wake, I pray with me this world I’ll take/I feel it growing inside Petrified, paralyzed/It’s eating me alive, down to the bone.”  Once again, here audiences are presented with what come across as a song that has to do with addiction.  The very mention of “Strung out on medication/What an abomination/I feel it growing inside” points to someone dealing with perhaps becoming addicted to certain medications, and the result thereof.  It is a powerful line that along with the rest of the song’s content, makes for its own very heavy statement that is sure to leave a lasting impact on listeners.  Keeping that in mind along with the other noted lyrical content and that lyrical content not noted (and the impact of each song), the whole leaves no doubt that this record’s lyrical content is just as powerful as its musical arrangements.  While the album’s overall content does a lot to make it appealing to audiences, it is just a portion of what makes the album worth hearing.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing used in the presentation of Making Out With My Death is just as important as its content to examine in looking at the album in whole.  The record’s sequencing keeps its energy stable and solid from start to end.  It has already been pointed out that the album opens with a very foreboding, Tool-esque sound that quickly gives way to something completely different and fiery.  As the album progresses, that fire never burns out, either.  It smolders at some points, but wastes little time burning bright again, keeping the album’s intensity at its height throughout.  By the time the record ends, listeners will know they have experienced something that is one of the most unique hard rock and metal (and independent) albums of the year.

Junkowl’s debut album Making Out With My Death is a powerful first offering from the independent hard rock band.  Its musical arrangements join influences from a variety of bands that make the songs in themselves and from one to the next, powerful just from this aspect.  The record’s lyrical themes are just as heavy as its musical content, as noted.  Its sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each noted item is important in its own way.  All things considered, they make the album a work that bodes well for Junkowl’s future.  Making Out With My Death is available now.

More information on Junkowl’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.junkowlmtl.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/junkowlband

 

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

Shadow & The Thrill Debuts ‘Just Enough’ Video

Courtesy: Deko Entertainment (ADA/Warner Music Group)

Fledgling blues rock band Shadow & The Thrill is giving audiences their first preview of the band’s debut album.

The band debuted ‘Just Enough‘ Friday.  The song is the lead single from the band’s forthcoming album Sugarbowl.  The album is scheduled for release Aug. 14 through Deko Entertainment (ADA/Warner Music Group).

The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Just Enough’ is, as noted, a blues-based rock tune with vocals, guitar and bass provided by Tony Cardenas-Montana and drums by Brentt Arcement.  Famed producer Sylvia Massy (Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash) oversaw the mixing for the song and the album.

Sugarbowl is just the latest indie record on which Massy has worked.  She also has had a hand in the creation of Amon Tobin’s new album The World As We Know It and independent hard rock band Hydraform’s brand new self-titled EP.

Cardenas-Montana’s vocals are instantly comparable to those of Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler.  If one were listening to the song without knowing it wasn’t Aerosmith, it would be easy to make that mistake.

Pre-orders are open for Sugarbowl.  Those who pre-order the album will receive a bonus track that is not featured with the album through its physical and digital presentations, but the vinyl release will feature that bonus song.  Autograph bundles are available.while supplies last here.

Pre-order bundle details are noted below.

Product Includes:
– One (1) Shadow & The Thrill – Sugar Bowl Vinyl (or CD)
– One (1) Shadow & The Thrill Tee
– One (1) Shadow & The Thrill Pick
– One (1) Digital Download of “Misery (Extended Version)”

Sugarbowl‘s track listing is noted below.

 

Sugarbowl Tracklist:
1. Lovesong
2. Misery
3. The Grind
4. Sugarbowl
5. Ready To Roll
6. Just Enough
7. Crazy
8. Mississippi
9. Unaware
10. Sugarbowl (acoustic) LP ONLY

 

More information on Shadow & The Thrill’s forthcoming album is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.shadowandthethrill.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShadowandTT

 

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

Porn Announces Release Date For New LP, ‘No Monsters In God’s Eyes — Act III’

Courtesy: FM Music Management

Goth-rock band Porn will release its new album next year.

The is scheduled to release its new album No Monsters In god’s Eyes — Act III March 27, 2020.  The album is the third in a trilogy, which started with The Ogre Inside — Act I in 2017.

A trailer for No Monster’s In God’s Eyes — Act III is streaming online now here. The album’s track listing is noted below.

 

20 – Dead in every eyes
21 – High summer sun – Part 1
22 – A lovely day
23 – Low winter hope – Part 1
24 – In an endless dream
25 – Low winter hope – Part 2
26 – Sky outside
27 – High summer sun – Part 2
28 – Some happy moments
29 – God’s creatures
30 – Low winter hope – Part 3
31 – Among dark red roses
32 – Mr Strangler’s last words
Digipack – 13 tracks – 59 minutes

Porn, which has shared the stage with acts, such as Murderdolls, Front Line Assembly and Hanoi Rocks, got its name from The Cure’s 1982 album Pornography.  The band claims as influences, bands, such as Type O Negative, Nine Inch Nails and Tool.

More information on Porn’s new album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PORNtheband

 

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

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.

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.

Red Line Chemistry’s ’06 Debut Re-Issue Could Mark Band’s New Beginning

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Red Line Chemistry has been making music together for just over ten years. Over the course of that time, the band has released no fewer than three full-length studio recordings. The band has done so all without the help of major mainstream radio corporations or even major record labels. That says quite a bit about this band and its work ethic. That work ethic paid off earlier this year as the band signed a new deal with indie record label Pavement Entertainment and in turn will re-issue its debut album Chemical High and a Hand Grenade later this month. The twelve-track record is a work that any fan of Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, and even Tool and A Perfect Circle will enjoy. Those influences taken into consideration, Chemical High and a Hand Grenade could very well prove to be, in its upcoming re-issue, a whole new beginning for the Kansas City, Missouri-based hard rock outfit. That is evident right from the album’s opener ‘Bullets and Armor.’ The full throttle rocker clearly exhibits the influences of both Shinedown and Breaking Benjamin over the course of its near three and a half-minute run time. Later in the album’s run, the Tool influence comes through in the form of ‘Apology.’ Front man Brett Ditgen is, vocally, a dead ringer for Maynard James Keenan here. ‘Penny Drama,’ which comes halfway through the record’s run is one more noteable addition to the record. It is a well-placed piece considering that it is completely unlike the album’s other tracks, stylistically speaking. Set alongside the previously noted songs, all three songs in themselves show clearly what makes CHAAHG (as it will be known from here on out) such an interesting collection of songs. The songs noted here along with the remainder of the album’s songs show the album in whole to be potentially a whole new beginning for RLC given support from the right sources.

The upcoming re-issue of CHAAHG is one of the best of this year’s crop of music re-issues. It is a record that any fan of Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, and even Tool will want to hear at least once if not more. From beginning to end, the band–Brett Ditgen (vocals), Andy Breit (guitar), Dave Fyten (guitar), Tom Brown (bass) and Mike Mazzares (drums)–took the sounds of those bands and crafted the twelve songs of its own that collectively make CHAAHG a record that is just as much a fit on any mainstream rock radio station today as the bands that obviously influenced it. That is evident right off the top in the form of the record’s opener ‘Bullet and Armor.’ ‘Bullets and Armor’ is a good first impression for the band and an equally solid re-introduction for those that have followed the band since its inception eleven years ago. It is a straight forward, adrenaline-fueled work driven in large part by Mazzares’ time keeping. Breit and Fyten complement Mazzares’ work solidly with their work on the lead and rhythm guitar respectively. The song’s musical content is just one part of what makes it a solid composition. Its lyrical content is just as important to note here, too. While there is some difficulty deciphering the lyrics without a lyrics sheet (as this critic has had to do), some of the lyrics can be deciphered. From what can be deciphered it would seem that Ditgen sings about putting up that proverbial armor to protect against the “bullets” that are “fired” at a person every day and the occasional difficulty of holding up that “armor.” Now should that interpretation hold water, then it would be even more interesting considering such subject matter set against the song’s musical content. The song’s musical content is rather fast-paced and boasts a certain confidence. It is a direct contrast to that lyrical content, thus making it all the more interesting of a first impression from the band on this record. It’s not the only interesting addition to the record, either. Late in the album’s run audiences get an equally interesting piece in the much moodier ‘Apology.’ This song shows just as much as ‘Bullets and Armor’ what makes CHAAHG worth at least one listen.

Red Line Chemistry makes a strong case for consideration among the mainstream ranks with the opening track on its soon-to-be re-issued debut album. The driving, straight-forward sound of the song’s musical content coupled with its equally thought-provoking lyrical content collectively make it a song that would have no trouble catching listeners’ ears. Much the same can be said of the very Tool-esque song ‘Apology.’ Ditgen sounds eerily like Tool front man Maynard James Keenan in his delivery here. His band mates add to the Tool-inspired sound here especially through Breit and Fyten’s work on guitar. That sound set against Ditgen’s vocal delivery as he sings seemingly about a broken relationship makes this song one of the record’s most standout moments. The assumption regarding the song’s lyrical theme comes as Ditgen sings, “You know that I was struggling/You saw I wasn’t well/And it’s killing me to say these things/I don’t feel I’m ready for this…” He goes on to sing, “I know that you were suffering/These decisions that were made/Will you understand you’ve done no wrong/It’s me that was so selfish all inside/I’m sorry/I’m sorry/I’m sorry.” The sorrowful tone in Ditgen’s delivery comes across as being so genuine. It adds so much emotional depth to the song. That depth set against the depth crafted through the song’s musical content makes even stronger the argument in favor of audiences and radio programmers alike giing this album a chance.

Both ‘Apology’ and ‘Bullets and Armor’ are clear examples of why CHAAHG’s upcoming debut-re-issue could very well be a whole new beginning for the band. As much as they prove the value of this album in today’s mainstream rock radio realm, ‘Penny Drama,’ which serves as the album’s midway point is just as solid of an example of why CHAAHG could be a new beginning for RLC. In regards to its lyrical content, this song also comes across as one centered on a broken relationship. That being noted what really stands out about this song is its musical influence. Listening closely to this piece, it can be argued that there is a hint of an influence from Alice in Chains as well as Shinedown and others. The Shinedown influence is especially apparent in the song’s chorus in which Ditgen sings, “She’s no ordinary woman/Weighing on my mind/Latching on to all I’m dreaming…and the other world/It seems so far away.” The vocal harmonies exhibited in the song’s verses instantly conjure thoughts of the two-part harmonies that made Alice In Chains’ music so infectious (for lack of better wording). That in itself is reason enough to make this song yet another piece that could serve as a single for the album’s re-issue. Simply put it is yet another example of why the upcoming re-issue of CHAAHG could mark a whole new beginning for RLC. Regardless of whether this song is used, those previously noted, or any of the album’s other compositions, every one of the songs that make up the body of this record prove together why listeners and radio programmers alike should and will want to give this record at least one listen.

‘Penny Drama,’ ‘Apology’ and ‘Bullets and Armor’ are all clear examples of how much CHAAHG have to offer audiences even almost fifteen years after its original release. All three songs exhibit the influence of bands that are themselves some of the biggest names in the rock community today. The other nine tracks not directly noted here could each be used just as easily to display the band’s talent and its relevance even in today’s mainstream rock world. Radio programmers and listeners that give the record a chance will hear that for themselves from beginning to end. And in realizing this, those audiences that give the record a chance will agree that in whole CHAAHG could be, in its upcoming re-issue, a whole new beginning for this band’s career. It will be available Friday, July 24th via Pavement Entertainment. All of the latest updates on the album are available online now along with all of the latest updates from the band at:

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RedLineChem

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.

Otherwise Starts Recording Process For Its Latest LP

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Las Vegas based hard rock band Otherwise has entered the studio to start work on its latest album.

Peace at All Costs will be the band’s second full length release for Century Media Records and third overall full length release. It is being produced by Grammy Award-winning producer David Bottrill (Tool, Flaw, Muse, Stone Sour, Godsmack, Staind, Peter Gabriel) in Las Vegas at Audio Mix House and Vegas View Recording Studios. Front man Adrian Patrick discussed bringing Bottrill on board to man the boards for this record and how much it means to have him on board for the record’s creation. “We’ve always felt different from other bands; not just as performers but as people also,” he said. Being in the studio with an elite producer like David Bottrill, knowing his impressively diverse resume and discerning taste in the artists he chooses to work with, only reinforces our resolve. Our next album, “Peace at All Costs,” will prove what we are capable of.”

The band will take a short break from working on its album next Saturday, April 12th as it is scheduled to take part in Orlando, Florida’s annual Earthday Birthday Festival.

George Cappellini, Sr. (Former VP of Promotion for Geffen Records and VP of Rock Promotion for Elektra Records) co-manages Otherwise. He was very excited in talking to the press about the past, present, and future of Otherwise. “I wanted to work the band to radio after hearing “Soldiers” on Octane,” he said. Fast forward two years later after 200+ shows, two Top 20 Singles, and now being a part of the management team, this band has grown into a powerhouse right before our eyes. You will all hear that on their sophomore album.”

Century Media Records head Robert Kampf has already had a listen to some of the material that fans will get to hear later this year. He put in the simplest terms what he thought of what he heard. He told reporters, After hearing the demos for the new album, OTHERWISE is going to be the future of rock, period.”

All of the latest developments on Peace at All Costs, any new tour dates and more from Otherwise is available online at http://www.weareotherwise.com/home, http://www.facebook.com/otherwiseofficial, and http://twitter.com/weareotherwise. 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 and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Power Of Three Has Potential Staying “Power”

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

2014 is only a week or so old.  Despite the infancy of the year, things are already picking up within the music industry.  If the many lists of the year’s most anticipated albums are any indication, there is a lot to look forward to this year.  That’s especially the case in the world of rock and metal.  Albums from Slipknot, Tool, Earth Crisis, Corrosion of Conformity, Foo Fighters, Mastadon, Black Label Society, and so many others are already making purist rockers and metal heads the world over excited about the months to come.  Now, yet another performer has added his name that already extensive list of bands and artists whose albums are highly anticipated this year.  The performer in question is Monte Pittman.  Pittman will release his new album The Power of Three.

The Power of Three is quite the interesting listen for those that might be unfamiliar with his body of work.  While Pittman has had the honor of recording and touring with veteran New York based metal band Prong, he is most well-known for his work with none other than Madonna and former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert.  He has also recorded with former Spice Girl Melanie C. on her 2003 album Reason.  Considering that he has spent more time recording and touring with pop artists, Pittman’s new record, which will be released via Metal Blade Records on January 21st, will shock audiences.  That’s because it is anything but a pop record.  Rather, he and his band mates—Kane Richotte (drums) and Max Whipple (bass)—have crafted a ten-track record that is an early contender for a slot on this critic’s list of the year’s best hard rock records.  The album’s second song, ‘Delusions of Grandeur’ is a pummeling song that hints at influences from the likes of thrash pioneers Pantera.  This is the case at least in terms of the song’s musical side.  Pittman’s guitar work, alongside Kane Richotte’s solid drumming, make this an excellent first impression from Pittman and company.  Pittman shreds with the best of them.  And his vocal style may even lead some to compare it to that of Fireball Ministry front man James A. Rota III.  Whipple adds just enough low-end to bring everything together in this song.

Just as interesting to take in on this record is the album’s opener and lead single, ‘A Dark Horse.’  What makes the song so interesting is that there almost seems to be an old school Black Sabbath influence mixed into the song’s more prominent modern metal sound throughout its bridge and verses.  One wouldn’t think the two sounds would gel.  Low and behold, they work quite well together.  As a matter of fact, there’s no doubt that Pittman and company will have listeners putting their horns high with pride.  Yet again, all three members of the band work together here to make a song that will leave listeners breathless by the end of its near five-and-a-half-minute run time. And as with the album’s other songs, the production is just as solid as the music itself.  Not one member of the three-man organization overpowers the other at any one point throughout the song.

For all of the heavier material that comprises this record’s body, Pittman also proves that he can hold back even if only a little bit.  That’s evident in the almost Alice in Chains style ‘Everything’s Undone.’  Even more intriguing about the song is that the setup in the song’s opening moments may even conjure thoughts of Aerosmith’s ‘Back in The Saddle Again.’  It’s only momentary.  But it’s there.  On its lyrical side, it comes across as being rooted in the standard relationship issues that make up so many songs.  He sings, “Driving faster/getting closer/But I feel farther from you/Here we go again/Who’s to blame/Am I gonna get closure from you/Now you’re gone/Is there something I’ve done wrong…Now everything’s undone.”  It’s pretty obvious that Pittman is delving into a personal realm here.  The catch is that unlike so many songs that are rooted in relationship issues, this one takes that lesser travelled road, opting for a less “oh, woe is me” vibe and more for something with energy about it.  This is the case even in the song’s chorus. The song as a whole is just one more that makes this upcoming album well worth the listen and a definite early contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock/metal albums.  Fans will get to hear even more music from Pittman and his band mates when they perform February 22nd at Los Angeles’ famed Whisky A Go Go.  Tickets for that show can be purchased via Pittman’s official website, http://montepittman.com. Fans can keep up with the latest addition to Pittman’s tour schedule and all of his latest news online at http://montepittman.com, http://www.facebook.com/MontePittman, http://www.myspace.com/montepittman, and http://twitter.com/montepittman.  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.