BPMD’s ‘American Made’ Covers Collection Is Entertaining, But Hardly Memorable

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Covers collections are among the most peculiar releases that musical acts of any genre can release during their careers.  Unlike singles compilations, which in their own way, actually serve a purpose – that purpose being that they could lead new audiences to pick up an act’s albums in whole – covers compilations serve little if any purpose.  They are just collections of songs that acts put together to “pay tribute” to other acts and make money in the process.  They are really just space fillers that acts use in order to satisfy contractual obligations for album release numbers.  Keeping that in mind, one can’t help but wonder why respected and talented musicians, such as Bobby Blitz (Overkill), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo, Liquid Tension Experiment, etc.), Phil Demmel (ex-Machine Head, Vio-lence) and Mark Menghi (Metal Allegiance) would come together just to create a compilation of cover songs for what is right now its first and only release.  The 10-song compilation, titled American Made, is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records.  It does delve into music from some notable bands who have come before this hard rock supergroup dubbed BPMD.  That dichotomy of the bands whose music is covered versus the band performing said songs does make for at least some interest at best.  This item will be addressed a little later.  The specific arrangements of said songs is certain to be its own discussion point.  They will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of this compilation.  All things considered, American Made proves itself to be a record that while worth hearing at least once, is sadly anything but memorable.

Hard rock super group BPMD’s debut recording American Made is a recording that is worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more than that.  One of the record’s only saving graces is the contrast of the bands whose works are covered to the band performing said covers.  The bands whose works are covered throughout this roughly 37-minute collection include, but are not limited to Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and Grand Funk Railroad.  Even Mountain gets its own recognition here.  Simply put, the bands whose works are covered here are in a realm that is completely opposite of the bands from which BPMD’s members have come.  Blitz is front man of the veteran thrash metal outfit Overkill.  Portnoy spent the majority of his professional career keeping time for the famed prog-metal outfit Dream Theater.  Even the other projects in which he has taken part have been in genres directly opposite of that of the covered bands.  Much the same can be said of Demmel and Menghi.  Considering the contrast of the resumes of BPMD’s members and the bands that they cover here, that in itself is worth at least engagement for audiences.  It shows that the band was willing to go out on a limb and do something different than what they normally do in their dayjobs.  One could also argue that maybe it is a display of the acts that influenced the band’s members.  If that’s that case, then the group has definitely gone far from those influences over the years, again making for its own share of discussion for listeners.  To that end, that contrast of the band’s collective background and the bands that this group covered does at best a little bit for the collection.  Directly tied to those discussions is the discussion on the collection’s one unavoidable negative, the very fact that it is a covers collection.

It has already been noted here that the members of BPMD have decidedly outstanding resumes.  So to that end, it is just baffling that considering the band members’ pedigrees, the group’s first impression of sorts would be a collection of songs that have been covered time and again by so many other acts.  These men are elite figures within the hard rock and metal communities.  It made audiences hope for something original right out of the gate so to speak.  Instead, the group opted to essentially phone it in and put out a covers compilation.  Had the group gone that route of releasing a debut loaded with original content first and then this record later, it would have made the compilation easier to accept. What’s more, unlike the case of Fozzy, which also started off with a collection of covers so long ago, it has to be assumed that BPMD is just a one-off project for its members.  At least in the case of a band, such as Fozzy, it was known that said band’s debut was just the beginning for that act.  This knowledge detracts from the draw of American Made.  It essentially makes the compilation come across as little more than a cash grab for the band and nothing more.  Keeping that in mind, this unavoidable aspect of American Made makes it difficult to call this record memorable.  While this aspect cannot be ignored, it does not make the album a complete failure for the group.  BPMD’s take on the record’s songs makes for its own share of engagement.

One of the most interesting updates that the band features in American Made is that of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special.’  BPMD’s update does largely stay true to its source material by and large.  The amped up re-imagining also gives the song a new identity and feel, needless to say.  It gives the song more of a 1980s hair metal type of sense.  Whether fans love or hate this one will be left to them, but it is definitely an interesting take, needless to say.  BPMD’s update of Aerosmith’s ‘Toys in the Attic’ is another key addition to the collection.  As with the band’s cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special,’ this cover also stays largely true to its source material.  It just once again gives the cover an amped up remake.  The song even goes so far as to include Joe Perry’s guitar solo from the original work.  It’s just weird hearing Bobby Blitz’s gritty vocals and the full-on hard rock re-imagining here.  That aside, this update actually works almost as well as the original.  BPMD’s cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘American Band’ is another important addition to this compilation.  The band’s take once more does strive to stay true to its source material, and it is certain in its own right to create a lot of discussion among listeners.  That’s because while it does stay true to the source material, it seems to have trouble balancing its attempt to echo the song’s classic rock sound and the band members’ own hard rock and metal leanings.  It is definitely going to have listeners talking.  That is not to say that the song is a total loss or that any of the compilation’s works are losses.  The songs will certainly leave listeners talking, though.  Between the discussions insured through the musical updates and the very lineup of featured bands, which could actually lead some listeners to embark on musical journeys into catalogs of bands to which they otherwise might not have listened, the compilation proves itself worth hearing at least once.  To that end, the compilation is not a total failure.  However, one cannot ignore the fact that considering the resume of each of BPMD’s members, this just seems like little more than a cash grab.  To that end American Made makes itself worth hearing at least once, but anything but an American classic itself

BPMD’s covers collection American Made is a headscratcher of a record.  The first release from the hard rock super group, it will potentially lead some listeners to take their own journeys into the catalogs of the record’s featured bands.  The songs that are covered here play even more into that potential musical journey of discovery, as the covers will definitely lead to lots of discussion among audiences.  For all of the positives that the record’s featured bands and songs generate, one still cannot ignore the very issue that the band’s members are among the music industry’s elite figures.  To that end, coming together for potentially just one record and making said record a covers collection will leave a somewhat bitter taste in many listeners’ mouths, so to speak.  It leaves one feeling like this was just a rushed, phoned in work that was little more than a cash grab for the band’s members.  Keeping all of this in mind, the record proves itself worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more than that.  American Made is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records.  More information on American Made is available along with all of BPMD’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://bpmdmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/bpmdofficial

 

 

 

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Nova Collective Unveils ‘Dancing Machines’ Video

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The Nova Collective unveiled this week, the video for the lead single from its upcoming debut album The Further Side, which will be released March 10 via Metal Blade Records.

The band—comprised of members of Between The Buried and Me, Haken, Trioscapes and Cynic—unveiled an in-studio video featuring a performance of the album’s lead single ‘Dancing Machines.’ The video can be viewed online now here.

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The song’s arrangement is a composition that will appeal to fans of Scale The Summit, Liquid Tension Experiment, Trioscapes and others of that ilk.

The Further Side will be available on CD, black 180-gram vinyl, and limited edition clear-red marble LP as well as via digital outlets.  The record’s clear-red marble pressing is being limited to only 200 copies, so supplies of that pressing are very limited.  Audiences can pre-order The Further Side online now here.

Nova Collective was born in 2014 when bassist Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me, Trioscapes) and guitarist Richard Henshall (Haken) starting discussing music via e-mail.  The pair fleshed out some demos not long after discussions started. Drummer Matt Lynch (Trioscapes, Cynic) and keyboardist Pete Jones (ex-Haken) came on board not too much later, helping to finish the album.

The band was written and composed on both sides of the Atlantic.  Session files were shared between the band’s members until it was possible for them to rehearse and record the music together.

Those joint sessions began in early 2015 with engineer Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist) at the helm.  Rich Mouser (Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard, Neal Morse Band) mixed the record.

More information on The Nova Collective’s new video is available online along with all of the latest updates on its upcoming album and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.metalblade.com/novacollective

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

 

 

 

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Bigelf Gives Fans Free Download Of New Song

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Bigelf will release its new album this Spring.  The band will release Into the Maelstrom on Tuesday, April 1st via InsideOut Music.

In anticipation of the album’s release, Bigelf is giving audiences the chance to download for free, one song off of its new album.  Fans can download the band’s brand new track ‘Alien Frequency’ for free now online at http://insideoutmusic.com/specials/bigelf/.  After downloading the band’s new song, fans can also check out a special EPK that gives some background information on the album’s creation.  That information is given via interviews with Bigelf front man Damon Fox.

Also available for viewing now is the lyric video for the band’s song ‘Control Freak.’  It can be viewed online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YShfPzht-mc&feature=youtu.be.

Into the Maelstrom will be available on limited edition double-disc digipack and gatefold double-disc vinyl LP. The double-disc digipack includes exclusive re-mixes and demo versions of the album’s songs.  The double-disc gatefold vinyl includes the album on both vinyl and CD.  It can be pre-ordered now online at http://www.insideoutshop.de/Artist/Bigelf/21221.  As an added bonus, Into the Maelstrom features famed drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Winery Dogs, Transatlantic) on drums.  The complete track listing for Into The Maelstrom is listed below.

1.     Incredible Time Machine
2.     Hypersleep
3.     Already Gone
4.     Alien Frequency
5.     The Professor & The Madman
6.     Mr. Harry McQuhae
7.     Vertigod
8.     Control Freak
9.     High
10.  Edge of Oblivion
11.  Theater of Dreams
12.  ITM
I. Destination Unknown
II. Harbinger Of Death
III. Memories

More information on Bigelf is available online now at http://www.bigelf.com, http://www.facebook.com/bigelfmusic and http://twitter.com/bigelf.  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.

Bigelf Releases Cover Art, Track Listing For InsideOut Debut

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Veteran L.A. based stoner rock band Bigelf will release its latest release this Spring.  Into The Maelstrom will be available in stores and online Tuesday, April 1st via InsideOut Music.  The band’s new album will be the first for Bigelf on InsideOut.  It will also be the first record for drummer Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater) with the band.

Into The Maelstrom will be available in a double-disc digipak and on a double-disc gatefold vinyl release.  The double-disc digipak will feature both the album and a handful of re-mixes and demos from the band.  The gatefold vinyl will feature the entire album as presented on CD.  The album’s track listing is as follows:

  1. Incredible Time Machine
  2. Hypersleep
  3. Already Gone
  4. Alien Frequency
  5. The Professor & The Madman
  6. Mr. Harry McQuhae
  7. Vertigod
  8. Control Freak
  9. High
  10. Edge of Oblivion
  11. Theater of Dreams
  12. ITM: I. Destination Unknown / II. Harbinger Of Death / III. Memories

Founding member Damon Fox explained in an interview what audiences can expect from the bands upcoming InsideOut debut.  “I think ITM is the best Bigelf record yet,” he said. “And I believe it is a real game changer for the band. It’s gonna put us over the top! Psychedelic cinematic landscapes and melodic prog-doom set the stage for the new album, I cannot wait for fans (old and new) to experience all of its apocalyptic color.”

Bigelf will be part of this year’s Progressive Nation At Sea cruise.  The cruise sets sail February 18th and returns to port February 22nd.  It will also feature performances by Transatlantic–another band with whom Portnoy plays—Devin Townsend Project, Riverside & Adrian Belew Power Trio.  Tickets for the Progressive Nation At Sea Cruise are available on the cruise’s official website, http://www.progressivenationatsea.com.  Audiences can also go to the cruise’s website to get a complete list of performers and all of the latest information on the cruise.

More information on Bigelf, its upcoming new release, tour dates and more is available online at http://www.bigelf.com, http://www.facebook.com/bigelfmusic and http://twitter.com/bigelf.  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.

Eagle Rock Keeps Raising The Bar With Prog Rock Supergroup’s New Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Eagle Rock Entertainment has done something to which few if any other record labels can do.  Somehow, some way, Eagle Rock Entertainment has managed to raise the bar over and over with each one of its new live releases.  It seemed like after 2012, there was no way that it could top itself.  Then 2013 came along and it inexplicably topped itself over and over again.  And now, it has done just that once more with the brand new release of Live in Tokyo from virtuosos Mike Portnoy (Ex-Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Transatlantic), Billy Sheehan (Talas, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), Tony McAlpine, and Derek Sherinian (Planet X, Ex-Dream Theater, Platypus).  This new live release is one more incredible release from Eagle Rock that continues to prove why this company is at the front of the pack when it comes to live recordings.  And it’s now available on double-disc CD, DVD, and Blu-ray as well as digitally.

Whether one is a fan of Dream Theater, Planet X, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth, or even every one of the projects in which these top talents has ever taken part, this live recording is an absolute must for audiences on either side of the fence.  The ninety-minute plus performance covers material from each of the artists’ body of work.  It opens with a bang with the first movement of Dream Theater’s famed A Change of Seasons EP before seguing into the hit ‘Acid Rain’ from Portnoy’s Liquid Tension Experiment side project.  Both songs were the perfect choice to open the performance as they waste no time setting the tone for the rest of the night.  Regardless of which side one takes on the split between Portnoy and his now former brothers in Dream Theater, there is no denying that he hasn’t lost a single step since his decision to step out on his own. And if one were listening to these two songs without seeing that it wasn’t Liquid Tension Experiment or Dream Theater, they would instantly think it was both.  That’s the level of talent displayed not just by Portnoy, but by his band mates in this performance.

The opening pair of performances from this recording’s set list are incredible to say the least.  They’re just the tip of the iceberg as audiences will note.  Whether in the slower, more groove oriented ‘Stratus’, the manic energy of Sherinian’s own composition, ‘Apocalypse 1470 B.C.’ or another of Dream Theater’s hits, ‘Lines in the Sand’all four musicians on stage proved what makes them such highly respected individuals.  McAlpine and Sheehan may have never been members of Dream Theater, but they showed that they know Dream Theater’s catalogue.  Had John Petrucci and John Myung been in attendance, they would have been smiling.  The same can be said of Sherinian’s band mates from Planet X of Portnoy and company in ‘Apocalypse 1470 B.C.’  And the band’s take on composer Georges Bizet’s ‘Farandole’ is truly something to behold.  Collectively, these four men have crafted a show that is anything but a tribute band or cover band.  Rather, what they have done is crafted a show celebrating the other and their work.

The songs chosen for this performance present four musicians that are at the top of their game.  And the quality of the recording both on its visual and audio side is top notch, too.  The audio and video mix on the DVD and Blu-ray is perfectly balanced.  This is especially noteworthy being that this performance was recorded at an indoor venue.  Indoor venues present their own problems for recording even at a professional level because the sound is contained in such a finite space.  It could so easily cause the mix to become “muddy.”  But Simon Phillips and company overcame that boundary with ease both on the visual and audio side of the recording.  Those behind the cameras deserve just as much credit as anyone for capturing the concert.  The angles of the shots put home viewers right up in the drum throne with Mike Portnoy and alongside his band mates.  At other times, the wide angle crowd shots are just right in capturing the enjoyment of the audience.  Viewers can see the genuine appreciation of the audience in attendance for what each musician presented.  It serves to heighten the overall viewing experience even more.  And together with that expertly mixed video and audio, it all comes together to make Portnoy Sheehan McAlpine Sherinian Live in Tokyo one more bar higher set by Eagle Rock Entertainment, and a definite must for any fan of each member’s bands past and present.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.

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.