Stone Leaders’ Self-Titled Debut LP Is A Solid Start For The Band

Courtesy: Vanity Music Group

A little more than four months have passed since up-and-coming progressive rock band Stone Leaders released its self-titled debut album overseas through Vanity Music Group.  It was released just last month in the United States.  In the months that have passed since the album’s release, the Croatia-based band has garnered acclaim from progressive rock fans and critics alike on both sides of the Atlantic with its musical arrangements and its lyrical themes.  While one of the band’s members labeled the group’s music as “Dark Prog,” that label – which is already used for Tool —  fits neither musically nor lyrically in Stone Leaders’ debut record.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, though.  Rather, the album’s overall content is certain to keep listeners fully engaged and entertained from start to finish.  The album’s lead single and album opener ‘Box Of Time,’ is just one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements.  ‘Shot By Lies,’ which comes just ahead of the album’s midway point, does just as much to support the noted statements and will be addressed a little later.  The same can be said of ‘Seeker,’ which closes out the 61-minute album.  It will also be addressed later.  Each song noted here is key in its own way to the whole of Stone Leaders.  When they are considered along with the nine songs not noted here, the whole of those compositions makes Stone Leaders a rock solid debut effort from Stone Leaders.

Stone Leaders’ self-titled debut album is a good start for the Croation progressive rock outfit.  It is a record that is certain to entertain and engage progressive rock and metal fans across the board.  The album’s opener and lead single ‘Box of Time,’ is just one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements.  The song’s musical arrangement can easily be likened to early works from veteran prog outfit Dream Theater.  That comparison is made through the guitar work, the song’s driving bass line, its keyboard line and even its drumming.  Front man Ivan Mihaljevic can himself even be likened to Dream Theater front man James Labrie due to the sound of his voice and his own stylistic approach to the song.  When this is coupled alongside the work of his band mates, the whole instantly becomes comparable to songs from Dream Theater’s breakout 1992 album Images & Words.  The song’s musical arrangement is just one of its most notable elements.  The song’s lyrical content is anything but dark, but is still without question something very deep.

As Stone Leaders drummer John Macaluso noted of the song’s lyrical theme in a recent interview, the song’s lyrical content centers on the influence that our experiences have on us throughout our lives.  He said of this concept, “You know, one day you’re doing fine until soon, you’re walking down a street, and a voice or a scent – or even a song – pulls you right back to where you were before.  Ultimately, the song is about the power of the mind, because sometimes, survival depends upon this deleting mechanism in the brain.”

Macaluso’s statement is illustrated as Mihaljevic sings in the song’s lead verse, “Traveled and battled the night/A rounded knife with hell to fight with me when I shut my eyes/My perception took a fall/Thought I could put away it all/Hide it in the wall/The voice I heard walk by/Has opened up a box of time/Stored up in my mind/Locked away/Are visions left to stay?/Was taken back in time by an old sound/Brought me down.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Running without making ground/Spirit’s footsteps my only sound/In just a flick of time/Without warning or a sign/When the venom starts to crawl through my veins and all/Over I must rise and lock down on my box of time.”  Again, it is clear that what is being discussed here is someone trying to put a lot of negative memories in the back of one’s mind, but those memories coming back with the re-entry of a certain element out of nowhere.  This is anything but dark, but definitely something that will most certainly reach a wide range of listeners.  It is just one of the songs that serves to show why Stone Leaders a positive first effort from Stone Leaders.  ‘Shot by Lies’ is another way in which this self-titled debut from Stone Leaders proves a positive overall work.

‘Shot by Lies’ comes later in the album’s run, just ahead of the album’s midway point.  This song’s arrangement is another work that can be likened to early works from Dream Theater, but this time, a little later in the 90s.  The song’s arrangement, whose keyboard line is much more prominent than in other songs featured in the record, is more akin to songs featured in Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling into Infinity than its harder-edged prog metal from the early 90s and late 80s.  At the same time, one could also argue that there is a hint of a Deep Purple influence added to the mix here, too.  Whether one, the other or both, the reality is that this song is another of the album’s most notable additions, if only for its musical arrangement.  Of course its musical arrangement is not its only point of interest.  It also is notable for its lyrical content.

Mihaljevic sings in the song’s lead verse, “Analyze then sterilize and finalize the strange behavior/Humanize then neutralize/Then utilize their only savior/Amplify fears/Make them weak and trace their every word/Analyze, then sterilize and finalize their pathetic lives.”  This is a bit dark, yes.  Reading through these lyrics, it is as if he is perhaps talking about society’s norms and mores, and in a way, tying in commentary about how religious leaders make things worse.  That is inferred with the note of “Utilize their only savior.”  The references about analyzing behavior and sterilizing makes one think of how psycho analysts and psychologists deal with patients, leading them to believe that the problem is them, not society.  The seeming message about social control and its impact is continued in the second verse, with Mihaljevic singing, “The tube that feeds you all you need/Controlled by holders of the greed/Antagonize to capitalize/We optimize the dread machine/Advertise to terrorize before their eyes/Dehumanizing/Tragedy will keep them weak/Secure behind the wall/Agonize to animalize, then euthanize/ Their pathetic lives.”  Again, this seems to be a statement about the controlling factors in the world.  Whether it has to do with the religious leaders, something else or both, the fact of the matter is that it seems to be there.  It is hardly the first time that any band or group has ever focused on such a matter in music.  As a matter of fact, most rock music is centered on going against societal control.  To that end, the song doesn’t break new ground, but is still hard hitting in its own right, in the delivery of its message.  When that message is considered alongside the song’s driving musical arrangement, the whole of those elements makes the song in whole another notable addition to Stone Leaders.  It is not the last of the album’s most notable works.  ‘Seeker,’ which closes out the album, is one more of the album’s most notable entries.

‘Seeker’ brings listeners a slightly more modern prog vibe with its increased keyboards and electronics.  That comparison to Dream Theater circa 1997 is still there, but at the same time, listeners can hear more of a 21st Century prog vibe coupled with that late 90s prog metal sound, too.  The keyboard lines can so easily be compared to those of Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess while the guitars and drumming can just as easily be likened to the work of the rest of the band.  While the comparisons are so easy to make, the good thing is that despite the comparisons, Stone Leaders’ song here is not just one of those blatant ripoffs of the noted influence.  That is another tribute to the band’s efforts.  Far too often, bands go beyond just imitating their influences – especially up-and-coming bands, and go to the point of blatantly ripping off said influences.  That doesn’t happen here or at any other point in the album.  The songs just exhibit Dream Theater’s influence.  Keeping this in mind, the song’s arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  Its lyrical content is just as important to its whole as its musical side.

Mihaljevic sings in the song’s lead verse, “Among the fear/Behind the beveled wall/Seems time stood still/Crumble, scale or fall/I was begging help me please/Voices from above/Underneath/A wonderer always sees it first.  He continues in the song’ second verse, “Archive the holes/They’re hidden in the road/Making a path/A highway to the stars/Fists were banged against the wall/First it broke before the fall/Screams have left my ears you see/Searcher/Traveler/Visionary.”  As this is sung, there is a softer, spoken portion in which the speaker states, “Signals begin/Emergency is declared in mind/Sensors flash, flicker/Taking their time in a hurry/Executing the next move for the soul/Beware the watcher’s will to sneak attention/To his way to creep/Strive with everlasting thirst/A seeker lives a blessed curse.”  This is just this critic’s own take on this song, but it almost seems as if Mihaljevic is telling a story here, of someone who has overcome life’s trials and tribulations.  Again, this is only interpretation and should not be taken as gospel.  That inference comes as in the first verse, he seems to be singing about those difficult times, “begging help me please,” while in the second verse, he notes Screams have left my ears, you see.”  He has become that visionary, overcoming the negative moments.  Hopefully this interpretation is at least somewhere in the ballpark, and not too far from the mark.  Considering the seeming story here, and even the discussion that these verses can generate even if this interpretation is incorrect, the very fact that the song is certain to generate so much discussion just on its lyrics, is another strong statement about the song.  To that end, the song is just another example of what makes Stone Leaders a positive debut for Stone Leaders.  When it is considered along with ‘Shot by Lies,’ ‘Box of Time’ and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album proves to be a solid offering that progressive rock and metal fans alike will appreciate.

Stone Leaders’ self-titled debut record – released in March internationally and in June in the United States – is a work that progressive metal and rock fans alike will appreciate.  That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements.  The album’s arrangements easily lend themselves to comparisons to works from Dream Theater from the beginning to the end of the 12-song, 61-minute record.  The arrangements can be compared easily to works created by Dream Theater at various points in its life.  The good thing is that despite the clear influence of Dream Theater, the arrangements are not blatant ripoffs of Dream Theater’s songs.  Rather, they use the band’s arrangements as a starting point for their own identities.  The lyrical themes presented alongside the arrangements are just as interesting as the songs’ musical arrangements.  The metaphorical language used in each song and the messages in the lyrics will certainly generate discussion among listeners.  All three of the songs noted here serve to illustrate these statements.  When they are considered along with the rest of the record’s works, the whole of the album becomes a work that is a solid starting point for the band.  More information on the album is available online now along with all of Stone Leaders’ news at http://www.facebook.com/stoneleaders1.

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Stone Leaders Debuts ‘Box Of Time’ Lyric Video

Courtesy: Vanity Music Group

Prog-metal band Stone Leaders debuted the video for its new single this week.

The band debuted the lyric video for the song ‘Box Of Time’ at Brutal Planet’s official website.  The video presents a variety of images, such as a clock on top of the moon, promotional photos of the band’s members and what looks to be New York City.

In terms of its musical content, the song’s arrangement can be compared to early works from the band’s American counterpart, Dream Theater.  In regards to its lyrical content, drummer John Macaluso (who has recorded with Dream Theater front man James LaBrie), said the song centers on the influence that our minds and memories have on us.

“You know, one day you’re doing fine until soon you’re walking down a street, and a voice or a scent — or even a song — pulls you right back to where you were before,” Macaluso said.  “Ultimately, the song is about the power of the mind, because sometimes, survival depends upon this deleting mechanism in the brain.”

‘Box Of Time’ is taken from Stone Leaders’ self-titled debut album, which was released March 15 by Vanity Music Group.  More information on ‘Box Of Time,’ Stone Leaders and Stone Leaders’ latest news is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/stoneleaders1.

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.

Outlaws & Moonshine’s Debut LP Will Appeal To Every Southern Rock Fan

Courtesy: Vanity Music Group/Nemesis Records

Imagine for a moment, southern rock fans, what would happen if a band took the easygoing influences of The Allman Brothers Band, crossed that with the slightly edgier sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd and crossed that mix with more modern influences from the likes of Shooter Jennings, Blues Saraceno, and Brand New Sin (among other similar acts) and out them all together for one album?  The answer comes in the form of Outlaws & Moonshine’s debut full-length studio recording The Devil in the Moonshine.  Set to be released in stores and online next Friday, Nov. 24, this 10-song record boasts a kick that is just as strong as the most potent mason jar of moonshine.  That is evidenced in part through the album’s collective musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The album’s lyrical content is just as important to its whole as its musical arrangements.  It will be discussed later.  The record’s sequencing brings those aforementioned elements together, solidifying the album.  Each element is important in its own right in showing what makes The Devil in the Moonshine such a powerful debut for Outlaws & Moonshine. All things considered, this record proves to be a work that Southern rock fans of all ages will enjoy.

Outlaws & Moonshine’s debut full-length studio recording Devil in the Moonshine is a work that is certain to appeal to Southern rock fans of all ages.  That is due in no small part to the album’s collective musical arrangements.  As has been noted already, this album boasts a wide range of arrangements.  Right from the album’s outset, audiences get a work in the album’s title track that mixes influences of guitarist Blues Saraceno’s with those of Zakk Wylde’s Pride & Glory and Shooter Jennings.  The end result of that solid southern rock recipe is an infectious arrangement that is certain to become a favorite among audiences both on record and in live settings.  ‘(Here Comes) Bobby; the album’s second offering, slightly changes things with its driving, acoustic rock arrangement, which boasts a clear influence from Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band.  The album moves from those influences to something more akin to a cross between Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Brand New Sin as it makes its way into ‘Don’t Be Scared,’ the album’s third entry.  Things don’t let up from there.  The arrangement at the center of ‘Boom,’ which comes halfway through the album’s run, conjures thoughts of some of Black Stone Cherry’s more upbeat works while ‘Redneck Me,’ the album’s penultimate track, presents an arrangement that takes listeners back to the 80s.  That is of course just this critic’s own interpretation.  If that is not enough for listeners, there is plenty more hard-hitting southern rock throughout the course of the album’s other arrangements, half of which are also featured in the band’s 2015 debut EP 1919.  Considering those arrangements and the arrangements more directly noted here, it becomes clear why the album’s arrangements are so important to its overall presentation.  While purely southern rock at their heart, they present a wide range of influences that is certain to keep southern rock audiences of all ages engaged and entertained.  They are collectively only one of this album’s most important elements.  The song’s lyrical themes are just as important to its whole as its musical arrangements.

The lyrical themes presented throughout the album are important because of the variety in their messages and the fact that those messages are put out so clearly.  Front man Beau Van noted in a recent interview that the album’s opener/title track is a straight forward song about drinking.  He said of the song that “this is about the whole concept of ‘the devil made me do it.’ I’ve been bitten by this more than once, so I’m describing my ten-foot-tall and bullet-proof persona in the form of warnings from my pop – ‘That stuff turns you to the devil,’ he would warn me.”  The album takes a decidedly deeper turn in ‘Ride or Die,’ which Van noted is more of an introspective piece that looks optimistically forward on life while also looking back.  “This one was about putting your boots on one at a time, walking that country mile, and taking that deep breath when you realize you made it out alive,” Van said of this song’s lyrical theme.  ‘Hey Y’all’ is far lighter in its tribute to Van and company’s country roots.  That is obvious as van sings here, “Well I got people talkin’ ‘bout the way I’m talking/I’m city boy livin’, but I’m country boy walkin,’…I’m Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash/You can kiss my outlaw a**…’scuse me while I whip out my hey y’all.  This song is just as certain as any of the album’s other songs to become a fan favorite if only for its concrete solid, country proud lyrical theme.  When that theme is set alongside the song’s raucous and infectious musical arrangement, the end result is one of the album’s absolute best numbers.  When that whole is joined with the lyrical themes noted in the other discussed songs — and those not directly noted here — the whole of the themes shows clearly why the album’s lyrical content is just as important to its whole as its musical arrangements.  Those themes are collectively still not the last of the album’s key elements.  Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing at the center of The Devil in the Moonshine rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.  It is so important because it shows a lot of time and thought was put into ensuring listeners’ maintained engagement in this album.  The album starts loud and proud with its title track, but very quickly pulls back in the emotional family tribute ‘(Here Comes) Bobby.’  That reservation doesn’t last long as the album’s energy picks right back up in ‘Don’t Be Scared’ before pulling back just a little again in the introspective mid-tempo ‘Ride or Die.’  Yet again, that reservation only lasts so before picking right back up again in ‘Boom,’ which is about that certain woman that makes every man move.  This time around, the energy stays relatively solid right up until ‘Redneck Me,’ which drives, but is still slightly more reserved in its energy than its predecessors.  ‘Different Kind of Man’ takes the energy present in ‘Redneck Me’ and builds on it just enough to help the album end with the same energy with which it opened almost 40 minutes ago at its start.  That balance of energy from one song to the next goes a long way toward ensuring audiences’ engagement.  It shows that those charged with the record’s sequencing didn’t just throw the songs in randomly and hoped they stuck, but rather deliberately set the album’s order.  That consideration paid off greatly, too. The same can be said of the thought obviously put into the album’s sequencing in regards to its lyrical themes.  The album’s lyrical themes vary from one to the next, giving just as much for audiences to enjoy.  Considering all of this along with the value of those lyrical themes themselves and the musical arrangements, the album in whole proves to be a solid first full effort from Outlaws & Moonshine – a work that is certain to appeal to southern rock fans of all types and ages.

Outlaws & Moonshine’s debut album The Devil in the Moonshine is a solid record that boasts a kick that is just as strong as the most potent home-brewed mason jar of moonshine.  It is a record that is certain to appeal to southern rock fans of all types and ages.  As has been noted here, that is due in no small part to the variety presented in the songs’ musical arrangements.  The arrangements boast a variety of energies and influences.  The songs’ lyrical themes are just as varied as its musical arrangements, presenting stories of family loyalty, facing life optimistically, and even the positive impacts of that certain significant other among other topics.  When this is all considered along with the albums sequencing – the order in which it was all placed – the whole of this record becomes a work that is solid from start to finish.  It will be available to the masses next Friday, Nov. 24 via Nemesis Records/Vanity Music Group.  More information on The Devil in the Moonshine is available online now along with all of Outlaws & Moonshine’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.outlawsandmoonshine.com

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

 

 

 

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Red Tide Rising Joining Sevendust, Crobot On The Road This Summer

Sevendust Tour Poster

Courtesy: Head First Entertainment

Red Tide Rising has announced a new group of live dates.

The up-and-coming hard rock band announced this week that it will join Sevendust and Crobot on the bands’ upcoming Canadian and U.S. dates.  The tour kicks off August 2nd in Bloomington, IL and runs through August 17th in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The current tour schedule is noted below.

02 Aug – Bloomington, IL – Castle Theatre

03 Aug – Minneapolis, MN – Mill City Nights

05 Aug – Sturgis, ND – Full Throttle

06 Aug – Ft. Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre

07 Aug – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex

09 Aug – Regina, SK CANADA – Conexus Convention Hall

10 Aug – Calgary, AB CANADA – Marquee

11 Aug – Edmonton, AB CANADA – The Ranch

12 Aug – Saskatoon, SK CANADA – Saskatoon Events Ctr

14 Aug – Winnepeg, MB CANADA – Burt Cummings Theatre

17 Aug – Toronto, ONT CANADA – The Opera House

Courtesy:  Head First Entertainment

Courtesy: Head First Entertainment

Red Tide Rising front man Matthew Whiteman was quite upbeat in discussing joining both bands on the road this summer.  “To share the stage with metal legends Sevendust is a huge honour and we can’t wait to join them and Crobot out there,” he said.  “Also, getting to spread the RTR sound to our new Canadian friends as well as hitting some new US markets will be incredible.”  The band’s upcoming dates are in support of its new album Voices, which is available now in stores and online via Vanity Music Group.  More information on RTR’s upcoming tour, its new album, and more is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.redtiderising.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/redtiderising

 

 

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.