Sonic Temple Organizers Announce Festival’s Band Lineup

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

The Sonic Temple Art & Music Festival will return this summer to Columbus, Ohio.

The festival’s return will come three years after it was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Foo Fighters, Tool, Avenged Sevenfold and KISS will serve as headliners for the four-day festival, which is produced by Danny Wimmer Presents.

M. Shadows, Avenged Sevenfold front man, said he and his band mates are looking forward to taking part in the festival.

“We’ve always enjoyed playing Historic Crew Stadium in Columbus and are excited to be a part of this year’s Sonic Temple,” Shadows said. “It’ll be a blast to share the stage with Tool, Foo Fighters and others, we can’t wait to see and play for all of our amazing fans again.”

Danny Wimmer Presents founder Danny Wimmer shared Shadows’ excitement. He said the headliners will join more than 75 other bands for the festival, making this year’s edition of the festival its largest ever just in terms of band lineups.

Among the many other bands set to perform at this year’s festival are: Nothing More, Black Stone Cherry, and Pennywise.

The festival’s full lineup is noted below:

Thursday, May 25: Tool, Godsmack, Beartooth, Bullet For My Valentine, Pennywise, Bad Omens, Suicidal Tendencies, Fever 333, Anti-Flag, Joey Valence & Brae, Bones UK, Ho99o9, The Warning, Oxymorrons, Angel Du$t, Bloodywood, Wargasm, Malevolence, Bastardane, OTTTO

Friday, May 26: Avenged Sevenfold, Queens of the Stone Age, Chevelle, I Prevail, Knocked Loose, Sleeping With Sirens, Badflower, Dorothy, Black Stone Cherry, Converge, Born of Osiris, Band-Maid, Lilith Czar, Des Rocs, Mothica, Fame on Fire, Dayseeker, Vended, Mike’s Dead

Saturday, May 27: KISS, Rob Zombie, Falling in Reverse, Puscifer, Trivium, Black Veil Brides, Rival Sons, Yelawolf Presents: Sometimes Y, Avatar, Senses Fail, From Ashes To New, Giovannie & The Hired Guns, Brutus, Dead Poet Society, The Violent, Point North, Tallah, Varials, Tigercub, Capital Theatre

Sunday, May 28: Foo Fighters, Deftones, Sublime with Rome, Jawbreaker, The Pretty Reckless, Awolnation, Nothing More, Grandson, White Reaper, Filter, Ayron Jones, The Bronx, Poorstacy, Zero 9:36, New Years Day, Nova Twins, Bob Vylan, Aeir, Starcrawler

Pre-sales for the festival are open now. General admission sales start Friday.

More information on this year’s SOnic Temple festival is available at:

Website: https://sonictemplefestival.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sonictemplefest

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Pharamcose Debuts New Single, ‘Obey,’ Visualizer

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Independent rock band Pharmacose premiered the latest single from its new project, Ascencion’s Constraint this month, along with its companion visualizer.

The band premiered the record’s new single, ‘Obey‘ and its visualizer May 6. The song is the record’s second single, behind the recently premiered single, ‘Cleanse,’ which the band premiered in March through Ghost Cult Magazine.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Obey’ is a dark, brooding composition. The use of the keyboards, electronics, drums, and vocals together to make it easily comparable to works from the likes of Tool, Gary Numan and Nine Inch Nails.

The lyrical theme featured in the song centers on “corporate corruption in the modern age” according to information presented about the premiere of the song and video.

The visualizer that accompanies Pharmacose’s new single is a simple presentation. It features a man in front of what is either a set of large windows or TV monitors. The words “You are being watched” are presented in large font in front of him on the windows/screens. The visual plays directly into the song’s lyrical theme.

Pharmacose’s new album and its singles are being accompanied by a novel that helps tell the story in the new, forthcoming concept record. One chapter is being released with the debut of each single. Audiences can download the story’s first episode now through Amazon.

Front man Wes Jones recently talked about the concept in the album’s story.

“I have always loved concept albums, and one of my major goals has always been to do one,” Jones said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen this soon, but the lockdowns happened, and all of a sudden I had nothing to do. We had been gearing up for some shows to promote the intended release of Prescription Fiction, but obviously none of that happened. I didn’t want to sit around doing nothing, so I decided it was as good a time as any to start work on that record.

Jones continued, “I had been kicking around some possible concepts for years, but it wasn’t until the lockdowns happened that I was able to commit to one. Even before the pandemic, I found myself ordering more and more things online, and it made me wonder just how dependent I’d become on corporations as well as how big and powerful many have become or are becoming. I’ve also been concerned about how wage stagnation and inflation are going to affect your average person in the future, and so I just combined the two ideas and that became the setting of the novel.”

More information on Pharmacose’s new single and album is available online now along with all of Pharmacose’s latest news at:

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/Pharmacoseband

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Pharmacose_Band

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.

Post Profit Releases New LP; Debuts Album’s New Single, Video

Courtesy: Tulip Lane Records/MVK Music Group

Independent rock band Post Profit released its new album this weekend, and with it another new single and video.

The band released its new album, When You Think It’s Right It’s Always Wrong, Friday. Along with its release, the band premiered the album’s latest single, ‘Smother!‘ and its companion video.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Smother!’ is interesting because of its overall composition. It follows a sort of slow burn approach, starting off in a distinct subdued, brooding fashion. From there, the arrangement turns soon after into a more aggro-rock style work that blends elements of Tool and Deftones into one for a unique musical presentation.

No information about the song’s lyrical theme is presented in the press release announcing the premiere of the new single and video. The lyrics that accompany the song’s video hint at the song centering on the matter of a personal relationship between two people. One person is seemingly trying to get the other to express his/her thoughts, rather than holding things in. At the same time, the main subject seems to be putting out there the impact that the other person’s non-communication is having on him/her. This is all this critic’s own interpretation.

The video for ‘Smother!’ features the band performing its new single in a studio setting of sorts. It crosses that with footage of the band making its way around an unidentified city. The video effects that are used with the video enhance the presentation even more.

In other news, Post Profit is in the midst of a tour in support of its new album. The band’s new live dates are noted below.

POST PROFIT TOUR

3/05- Deadhorse – San Angelo, TX

3/25- Country River Club – Tyler, TX

3/26- Scout Bar – Houston, TX

4/9- TBA – Paris, TX

On Tour with Escape the Fate, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus- TBA

4/29- 19th Hole- Spring, TX

4/30- WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot – Austin, TX

5/19-5/22- Welcome To Rockville (Date TBA) – Daytona, FL

– Post Profit Album Release Party – Saturday 2/26/22 at Texas Players Club (Longview, TX) w/ Special Guests Everyone Dies in Utah, Cutthroat Conspiracy & Gorgeous Jetson.

More information on Post Profit’s new single, video, album, and tour is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.postprofitofficial.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/postprofitoffcial

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/post_profit

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 and “Like” it.

Seven Eyed Crow Debuts ‘Weird Boy’ Video

Courtesy: Domino Media Group

Independent alt/prog rock band Seven Eyed Crow premiered the video for its latest single this month.

The band unveiled the video for its single, ‘Weird Boy’ Feb. 10. The song and its video are the latest from the band’s new EP, Icarus, which was released Jan. 21. The band debuted the EP’s lead single, ‘To My Old Man‘ and its companion video Jan. 10.

The ‘Weird Boy’ video features footage of a young boy and girl separately as the song’s lyrics and musical arrangement play over the visualization. The imagery pairs with the song’s lyrical content, which seems to deliver a familiar message of someone feeling like an outsider. That is just this critic’s interpretation.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Weird Boy’ immediately lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Leprous. That is exhibited through the performances on bass and guitar, as well as the unique vocal delivery.

More information on Seven Eyed Crow’s new video and song is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://seven-eyed-crow.bandcamp.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/seveneyedcrow

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.

Seven Eyed Crow Announces New EP Release Date; Debuts EP’s Lead Single, Video

Courtesy: Domino Media Group

Independent alt/prog rock band Seven Eyed Crow is scheduled to release its latest record this month.

The band is scheduled to release its new EP, Icarus Jan. 21. In anticipation of the record’s release, the band released its debut single, ‘To My Old Man‘ and its companion video Jan. 10. Icarus will be the band’s third overall record and second EP behind its debut EP, Dark Ways (2016) and its follow, the band’s debut album, Organized Chaos (2018).

The musical arrangement featured in ‘To My Old Man’ is a subtle, flowing composition. At some points, influences of Leprous and Tool are evident. At others, hints of Incubus are just as audible. It sounds like an odd contrast in sounds, but it works well in this case.

No information was provided about the song’s lyrical theme in the press release announcing the premiere of the band’s new single and video. No lyrics were provided with the video, either. From what can be deciphered, it would seem that the song’s lyrical theme (in partner with its title) is of a personal nature that perhaps deals with the loss of one of the band member’s fathers. There is a mournful tone to what can be deciphered sans lyrics and explanation, too. That and the song’s musical arrangement gives the song such a powerful depth.

More information on Seven Eyed Crow’s new single, video, and EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://seven-eyed-crow.bandcamp.com

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

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.

Rock Super Group Covers Tool, Slipknot For New Double Single

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Tempest debuted its new double single Jan. 7.

The band — Ron Poisson (Cult of Individuality owner), Will Hunt (Evanescence, Black Label Society, Crossfade), Doc Coyle (ex-God Forbid, Bad Wolves), Chris Cain (ex-Bury Your Dead, Bad Wolves), and Kyle Konkiel (ex-Scar The Martyr, Bad Wolves) — debuted its take of Tool’s ‘Sober’ and Slipknot’s Dead Memories’ Jan. 7.

The covers came as a result of the pandemic, according to information provided about the songs. Poisson and Hunt were having conversations through social media about how to keep busy during lockdowns. The conversations led Hunt to reach out to the other band members, and the rest (as they say) is history).

Tempest’s take of ‘Sober’ largely stays true to its source material. However, there are some subtle differences in the two takes. They come through the guitar solos. The solos in Tempest’s take on the song move more in a subtle hard rock direction. By comparison, the solo in the original maintains the song’s dark prog approach and sound. Audiences can hear Tempest’s take on the song here.

Tempest’s take on Slipknot’s ‘Dead Memories’ came about as a tribute to the late Joey Jordison,’ who played drums with the band from its formation in 1995 until his departure from the band in 2013. The single stays largely true to its source material. The most notable difference between the original and Tempest’s take on the song is in the vocals. Poisson’s vocals are clearly different from those of Corey Taylor. Where Taylor’s vocals are grittier and darker, Poisson’s delivery style is more melodic.

More information on Tempest’s new double single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.pavementmusic.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pavementcorp

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.

Gemini Syndrome Finishes Off Its First Trilogy Of Albums Successfully With ‘3rd Degrees – The Raising’

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Alt-metal band Gemini Syndrome released its latest album over the weekend.  3rd DegreeThe Raising was released Friday through Century Media Records.  The band’s third album, it came more than five years after the release of the band’s sophomore album, Memento Mori (2016).  The wait for the record was worth it, too.  This has already been proven through the singles that the album has produced.  That is due to the songs’ musical arrangements and lyrical themes.  The musical and lyrical content featured through the rest of the album is collectively just as powerful.  Each will be discussed in the bigger record’s bigger picture here, as will the record’s sequencing.  Each item noted does its own important part to make the album successful.  All things considered, they make the album overall, yet another strong addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.

Gemini Syndrome’s latest album, 3rd DegreeThe Raising, is an impressive new offering from the band.  Its success comes in part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements continue to exhibit the richness and heaviness that became so familiar to audiences over the course of the band’s first two albums, Lux and Memento Mori.  However, a close listen also reveals clear growth from the band this time out in terms of the arrangements.  In place of the aggro rock and more nu-metal leanings present in those records’ arrangements is a darker, heavier approach that blends influences of Tool’s dark prog and Breaking Benjamin’s gloomcore sound into one.  Each arrangement is unique from its counterparts here, but the influences are still there.  The changes in the sounds and stylistic approaches are subtle from one to the next, but again, a close listen will reveal those variances.  Case in point is the arrangement featured in ‘Absolution.’  This radio ready arrangement whose contemplative verses and heavy, fiery choruses create a great contrast that is certain to keep listeners engaged.  The intense approach taken in the arrangement’s bridge, which finds front man Aaron Nordstrom almost rapping (believe it or not) adds even more to the song’s interest.  By comparison, the full-on alt-metal approach taken in ‘IDK’ (one of the album’s singles), complete with Nordstrom’s screams against the more melodic choruses is a distinct change in sound and style.  Yet it is still so immersive with its richness and heaviness.  On yet another note, a song, such as ‘Children of the Sun’ takes listeners in yet another direction.  The guitar riff that opens the song immediately conjures thoughts of Pantera.  Interestingly enough, that comparison is only brief as the song progresses.  From there, the guitar and bass line that builds presents an almost bluesy influence in its stylistic approach, even as heavy as the pairing proves.  The song’s chorus meanwhile is a full, immersive melodic hard rock presentation.  All things considered here, there is a lot that happens in this arrangement, but it is all so well-balanced from beginning to end.  The whole stands on its own merits separate from the album’s other arrangements.  Keeping that in mind, when it and those other arrangements (including the ones noted here) are considered collectively, they leave no doubt that the musical content featured in this record is so important to the album’s presentation.  They are just a part of what makes the album an impressive presentation.  The record’s lyrical themes also play in to the album’s success.

The lyrical themes that are featured throughout this album are important because of their overall accessibility.  The theme featured in ‘Absolution’ is a prime example of that accessibility.  The theme presents a seeming message that yes, things are going to be tough in life, but it is up to us to make a difference in our lives.  He reiterates that seeming message in the song’s chorus, noting that “This is our last chance for absolution.”  For those who might not know, absolution is the act of forgiving for having done wrong.  It would seem to go in line with the inferred theme.  He seems to be saying that forgiving others is part of making changes in our lives for the better; that we cannot hold onto anger as well as making the most of ourselves.  This is all just this critic’s interpretation of course.  Regardless, the seeming message is powerful and will certainly resonate with listeners whose hearts and minds are open to that apparent theme.

‘Broken Reflection’ is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.  This song – one of the album’s singles – is a rumination on how we view ourselves versus how we present ourselves to the public.  Nordstrom talked about the song’s theme when the single was released this summer, noting, “We are all trying to show the best versions of ourselves, but we need to master those versions inside before we can present the perfect image and not have it be confused for something illusory.”  This statement makes sense and hopefully will to audiences.  He is saying we need to look inward before we look outward as part of that process of rebirth.  The theme of personal and spiritual rebirth is the overarching theme of this album, so that makes this theme even more fitting.

‘Where We Started From’ is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.  In the case of this song, the inferred message (again this is this critic’s interpretation) seems to be one of addressing how we find ourselves in vicious cycles, doing the same things over and over.  It would seem that the song hints at how our own mental and emotional states play into those cycles happening.  It would seem to play into the album’s overall lyrical theme of personal and spiritual rebirth, too.  Once again, this is all just this critic’s interpretation and is hopefully somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  When it is considered along with the themes (and seeming themes) of the other songs addressed here and those in the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes clear that the album’s lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as the album’s musical arrangements.  The content overall gives audiences plenty to appreciate here.  When the sequencing thereof is considered, too, it works with the content to show even more why this record is a success.

The sequencing of 3rd DegreeThe Raising is important because it takes into account the subtle changes in the songs’ arrangements and their lyrical theme as it assembled the record.  It also takes into account the energy in each arrangement.  Considering the mood that the arrangements establish (even considering the overall positive and contemplative nature of the songs’ lyrical themes) this is extremely important.  That is how emotionally heavy each arrangement proves.  The themes, as noted, are meant to help audiences relate and cope with situations in their own lives.  The sequencing ensures that those themes change from one song to the next.  That in turn ensures listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment even more.  When this is considered along with the impact of the record’s sequencing in terms of the subtle changes in the arrangements, the whole proves the sequencing just as successful as the album’s content.  When all things are considered together, they make the album overall a powerful new offering from Gemini Syndrome that the band’s fans will enjoy just as much as hard rock and metal fans in general.

Gemini Syndrome’s latest album, 3rd DegreeThe Raising is a successful new offering from the band.  It is a presentation that will appeal equally to the band’s established audiences just as much as it will to hard rock and metal fans in general.  That is due in part to its arrangements.  The musical arrangements stand out because of their familiarity and accessibility.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are accessible in their own unique way and will also make audiences really think deeply about life and themselves.  It strengthens the record’s presentation that much more.  The sequencing of that overall content rounds out the album’s most important elements.  It takes all of the content into account in every way and ensures the songs are ordered so that the content has the maximum impact on listeners, ensuring the audiences’ maintained engagement from beginning to end.  When it is considered along with the content and its impact, the whole makes the album overall a strong finish to Gemini Syndrome’s trilogy of albums and gives hope for the band’s future.

3rd DegreeThe Raising is available now. More information on Gemini Syndrome’s new album, single, video and live appearances is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://geminisyndrome.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/GeminiSyndrome

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/GeminiSyndrome

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.

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.