Skillet – Unleashed Album Review

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SKILLET
“Unleashed”

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(Atlantic/Word)

01. Feel Invincible
02. Back from the Dead
03. Stars
04. I Want to Live
05. Undefeated
06. Famous
07. Lions
08. Out of Hell
09. Burn it Down
10. Watching for Comets
11. Saviors of the World
12. The Resistance

Skillet is one of those bands that allow you to feel astonished when you look at their discography which is equally as impressive as it is lengthy. Two of their past three albums have gone platinum and 2013’s Rise reached Gold status.

Unleashed is truly the most apt name for this album, because you feel that the band poured all their energy into this record. You can really appreciate the fact that every song on this album has the potential to be a single. There are quite a few songs that smack you in the face with its explosive energy and I love it!

“Feel Invincible” is the perfect first single off the album it grabs the listener by the collar and doesn’t let go up until the last note. It is a battle song and a reminder to not give up even when you can’t see the silver lining.

“Back From The Dead” is an unapologetic song about being reborn or reinvented and the possibilities of such a resurrection. The song is the rush of adrenaline when you need it most.

“Stars” in my opinion is the most apparent Christian song on the album and I’m sure it will resonate with a lot of Christian fans of the band. I like how Skillet incorporates religion in their music, if you need it it’s there, but if you don’t you can still appreciate it for the rock music it is. “Undefeated” has amazing energy and dynamics combined in a head-banging track. I dare you not be taken with this one!

“Famous” is a little more upbeat and based on electronic sound than their other tracks.”Lions” is an inspirational song where Jen and John join forces to deliver the message of perseverance and hope. “I Want To Live” is the pick-me-up you never knew you needed.

“Out of Hell” is a song that will make your average hard rock lover happy, due to the frenzied drums and heavy guitar riffs. “Watching for Comets” is a beautiful ballad performed as a duet by Jen Ledger and John Cooper.

“The Resistance” is a call to defend and stand-up for what you believe in, instead of apathy.

The entire album feels like the rush of adrenaline it is meant to be. An intense injection of energy and pure rock music.

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

The band’s latest music video for “Feel Invincible” off of their latest album “Unleashed”.

 

Band Feature – KONGOS

Kongos Perform at JBTV Music Television Studios in Chicago, IL

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Kongos Perform at JBTV Music Television Studios in Chicago, IL

Kongos Perform at JBTV Music Television Studios in Chicago, IL – Source: Kongos Official Facebook Page

 

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The Kongos’ label, Just Music, presented us with a plaque for Lunatic going Gold! (South Africa)

The youngest of the four Kongo brothers, Danny was born in South Africa. The other three brothers were born in London and moved to South Africa when they were more or less one to two years old. They grew up surrounded by music as their father was John Kongos, a South-African musician who enjoyed two Top 5 UK pop hits in the early seventies.Over time he gravitated more towards the production side of the industry, he enjoyed the studio more than he did touring. His father built his own studio and he worked together with producer Mutt Lange on Def Leppard’s “Pyromania”.

The family moved from South Africa to Paradise Valley in 1996 and this is where the boys had a chance to hone their craft in the basement studio and cut their latest album. All four brothers attended Chaparral High School, only Johnny and Jesse tried college, but both of them never finished. The brothers wanted to earn their living through music and Jesse and Johnny were playing in jazz groups. Danny and Dylan didn’t finish High School and never had the desire to have a career in anything but music, school was viewed as an obstacle by the brothers more than as a means to an end.

The Kongos played their first show at a coffee shop in Mesa in 2003, the place was packed. The Kongos’ friends and family came out to support the band and thereafter the number of audience members dwindled, but that first show gave the band a taste of what it felt like to play to a larger audience. The brothers always had their parents’ support, their dad was in the music business which meant they had access to an amazing facility and mentor.

The band went on to hone their craft releasing their debut album “Kongos” in 2007. The album did not spawn any major breakthroughs. Fast forward to 2010 and the band had a lot of expenses recording and touring, but they weren’t generating a lot of income. They had already recorded a large part of their sophomore album “Lunatic” and were performing the songs live. They were sending songs to record labels and radio DJs, to no avail. The band was starting to doubt the longevity of their music career when they got a break at a radio station in Phoenix and started generating interest. Soon another radio station started playing their songs which reflected in the size of the audiences they were performing for in Phoenix.

The band sent e-mails to various radio stations across the world among them South Africa ,the program director for 5FM (national radio station) responded, because he loved the song and decided to play it to more or less 2 million listeners.

The station played “I’m Only Joking” and The Kongos blew up overnight. The proof of the country’s reaction was evident with the influx of people who “Liked” the band’s official Facebook page and interacted with posts. After an extensive tour in South Africa the band went back to the United States and it took another year for the band to have a breakthrough. In the meantime the band wasn’t being idle and they worked on what would eventually become “Egomaniac”.

Initially their record label Tokoloshe Records decided to push the single“I’m Only Joking” based on its performance on KWSS and 5FM. A DJ called Nerf heard something special in the song “Come With Me Now” and started playing it in it in Denver on KTCL-FM. The single received the biggest reaction for his station than ever seen before. “Come With Me Now” started the fastest climb up the Billboard Alternative Songs chart by an unknown artist since Evanescence did the same with “Bring Me To Life”. They had to set aside the new material they were working on in order to concentrate their efforts and capitalize on their platinum breakthrough. A lot of the material had already been written or was in the demo-ing process, due to the lag of success between South Africa and the United States.

 

The downside of the success of “Come With Me Now” is the high expectations for the band to deliver a smashing follow-up single. The life of the first single was extended due to the success that it experienced.

The brothers’ goal with their latest album was to turn fans of their hit single “Come With Me Now” into fans of the band as a whole. “Take It From Me” is the first single from the “Egomaniac” and it’s well on its way to become the band’s second hit single.

The Kongos care a lot about their sound production and they have invested a lot of money to upgrade their equipment instead of the studio. The band was determined to retain their stamp on their music, while still creating something new, unique and fresh.

The Kongos are currently on tour and they performed in Cape Town last night and they are performing at the Oppikoppi Festival tomorrow.

The Kongos are a unique band with a “flavour” of their own that sets them apart from the competition. If you want to explore your taste in music then this is the place to start.

Follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KONGOS

Follow Jesse Kongos on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JesseKONGOS

Follow Dylan Kongos on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DylanKONGOS

Follow Danny Kongos on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dannyKONGOS

Follow Johnny Kongos on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnnyKongos

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

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Bands To Watch… Right Now!

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PVRIS – “Smoke”

With PVRIS set to support Bring Me The Horizon on their ground-breaking performance at Royal Albert Hall the band has already started to enter the limelight in a big way. Their latest single “You and I” is such an ethereal and genre-fluid song and definitely deserves a lot of attention, but I decided to feature their video for “Smoke” to demonstrate the band’s versatility.

Follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ThisIsPVRIS

Against The Current – “Talk”

 

Against The Current consists of three young musicians and although they have released more music recently “Talk” is featured here, because it is a great portrayal of the band’s charm and enthusiasm. Chrissy Constanza is the lead singer and she has an amazing voice which can alternatively be appreciated by the many covers of popular songs that she has performed. I can’t wait to see what this band is going to do next!

Follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ATC_BAND

 

Cartographer – “Paradox”

Cartographer produces some solid, clean vocals and sonic delight. A band with a fresh and honest sound that many more rock music lovers should be exposed to. They are an instrumental rock band from Tilburg, the Netherlands. The band’s sound is firmly rooted in heavier music genres.

Follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cartographero

American Wolves – “Part of Me”

American Wolves have produced a stunning debut single called “Part of Me” that any music lover can sink their teeth into. an enigmatic front man and a diverse group of musicians make up “American Wolves”.  The band consists of Rod Pires (vocals / guitar),  Rob Lundy (bass), Nicole Zell (guitar) and Tyler Blinn (drums).

Follow American Wolves on Twitter: https://twitter.com/americanwlvs

Stealing Eden – “Just A Memory”

Stealing Eden is band who has faced a lot of adversity since their inception in late 2008. The band was created by singer David Ottoson hailing from Vancouver, BC. Stealing Eden signed to indie label Moshpit Records and started recording their debut album Truth In Tragedy. The band faced many challenges during the recording process, member changes, label disputes and producer changes. Truth In Tragedy was finally released worldwide on April 12th 2011. Songwriter/Guitar player Maximus and Vocalist/Producer David Ottoson decided to take a break and focus on family as well as their other projects. Late in 2015 Stealing Eden started to write material for their follow-up to their debut album Great things are to come from this band. Their poignant lyrics and quality of production have the potential to propel the band forward. Stay tuned…

Follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/stealingeden

Cilver – “I’m America”

This band took me totally by surprise…by how much I liked their sound within the first few seconds of their latest video “I’m America”. After my second listen the song is already stuck in my head! The band tackles interesting subject matter and they are not afraid to make a statement. The band members (Uliana, Josh, Leon and Ramsey)
have had interesting lives to say the least and music has been the only constant source of inspiration and solace. I think it is wonderful to see another female-fronted rock band entering and progressing in the rock industry.

Follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cilverband

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Best rock videos that 2016 has delivered so far…

2016 promises to be a big year for rock music! New music will be coming from Lacey Sturm, Alter Bridge, Slash, The Offspring, Green Day, Dream Theater, Korn, Megadeth, Linkin Park, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Avenged Sevenfold, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Metallica!

Whoever said rock music is dead never had a look at that line-up!

The past two months have seen quite a few rock music videos which you can lose yourself to.

Black Stone Cherry – “In Our Dreams”

Black Stone Cherry is back with their up-and-coming album “Kentucky”. Watch their latest video for their new single “In Our Dreams” with an interesting concept of people living under water in terrible conditions under the rule of a dictator. See what happens next:

 

Halestorm – “Mayhem”

Exactly the song you will expect with “Mayhem” as a title. Halestorm throw everything they have in the execution of this song, an adrenaline fuelled, fist-pumping track that is sure to make any rock music fan happy!

 

 

Against The Current – “Outsiders”

Chrissy Constanza charms the crowd during a live performance captured to serve as a music video for their single “Outsiders” filmed at their sold-out London show.

 

 

Falling In Reverse – “Chemical Prisoner”

Ronnie Radke told Loudwire.com that he had the most fun shooting this video and they made use of his dad’s motorcycle club. It was shot in Ronnie’s home town of Vegas. An intense song that will keep you coming back for more.

 

New Years Day – “I’m About To Break You”

A creepy yet stylistic video for New Years Day’s song “I’m About To Break You”. A fun, hard rock song that I can just imagine myself singing along to in the car and maybe head-banging at the traffic light!😀 The video reminds me of Mad Max, which is definitely a good thing!

 

PVRIS – “You and I”

“You and I” by PVRIS is probably the tamest song on this list, but the band is on fire at the moment and they have recently released a slew of music videos. I just admire Lynn Gunn’s haunting, silky voice and I love the arty, gothic style of the video. I’m really excited for the what the band’s future holds in store!

 

 

I hope that we will share many more rock music moments in 2016!

 

Rock Regards,

 

Lauren Kruger

Prime Circle Kirstenbosch Concert Review 10.01.2016

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I arrived to  a sold-out 6000 capacity crowd. It was heart-warming to see the support local music has gained. I have always wanted to watch Prime Circle at Kirstenbosch as I view it as their “home ground” of sorts.

Jono Grayson welcomed the crowd and played two songs. The crowd seemed enticed by Jono’s unassuming, humble nature. He has a charming voice and great potential if he continues to gain exposure and experience.

The Wintyr was up next and their music has an interesting ethereal vibe to it. It is a unique sound, especially for a South African band. I was really excited by the percussionist, the way he played took my breath away. You can view the band’s latest music video for their song “The Water” below.

It was time for Prime Circle to come on stage!

Prime Circle played their inspiring single “Doors”. They changed up their song “Out of this Place” accompanied by “Wild Lettuce” playing the australian didgeridoo, a really interesting take on a classic Prime Circle song.

View the performance here:

One of my favourite songs from the band’s “Let The Night In” album is “I Am”, a really upbeat and aggressive chorus interlaced by groovy verses. Their song “My City” was dedicated to Cape Town and I became really emotional seeing the massive crowd in front of me with bubbles floating through the air framed by the mountains in the background. The radio-friendly “Gone” and the romantic “Satellites” featured on the set list. “Blame It On Me” was performed by the band accompanied by an amazingly talented young lady, Jasmine Minter, who turned 16 years old on the day.

Watch a snippet of the performance here:

Her father Gavin Minter joined the band on percussion during a few songs. Dave Ferguson featured during a few songs and played the harmonica to perfection.

The band treated the crowd to a rare live performance of “My Inspiration” one of their albums off their debut album released in 2002. In my opinion this song shows off the strength in Ross’s voice.

View a few minutes of the performance:

Probably one of the most popular Prime Circle songs is the fiery “She Always Gets What She Wants” and it ALWAYS triggers a sing-along from the crowd. The band is gearing up for their first international release, which is well-deserved and a long-time coming. “She Always Gets What She Wants” will be the first single from the internationally released album and I hope it goes above and beyond what the song has achieved in South Africa.

“Consider Me” is a social and environmentally conscious song reminding us to be less selfish. “Time Kills Us All”, another crowd favourite and a truly ethereal experience. At the end of the set the crowd sang along to a lyric sheet and the band recorded the crowd singing.

The band accompanied by guest artists provided an exceptional evening of entertainment. Ross was in a lively mood and Dale was in beast mode on the drums, a treat to watch!

Follow Wild Lettuce on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WildLettuceZA

Follow Jono Grayson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JONOGRAYSON12

Follow Natasha Meister on Twitter: https://twitter.com/natashameister

Follow The Wintyr on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thewintyr

Follow Prime Circle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Prime_Circle

Huge shout-out to Bizcommunity Lifestyle for the tickets!

Follow Bizcommunity Lounge on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Biz_Lounge

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Best 15 Rock Songs of 2015

Best Rock Songs of 2015

 

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The year 2015 had a lot of amazing rock music moments. When I started to compile this list it was easier than it has ever been before!

Please take some time to appreciate the talented musicians featured here:

 

Number 15: In This Moment – “Sex Metal Barbie”

 

In This Moment have their own unique style and niche fan base. The song discusses the prejudice that women in the hard rock/metal music industry face. Maria Brink displays her flair and tenacity in this unique video.

 

Number 14: Apocalyptica – “Cold Blood”

 

Franky Perez joined Apocalyptica in 2014 as a touring member, but I think his voice compliments the band  perfectly. “Cold Blood” delivers a visual feast combined with excellent instrumentalists. A rock performance with class.

 

Number 13: Trivium – “Silence In The Snow”

 

Silence In The Snow hits the ground running and Matt Heafy’s vocal delivery on this track is impeccable not to mention the mesmerizing video the band released.

Number 12: Breaking Benjamin – “Angels Fall”

 

Breaking Benjamin released an enchanting ballad and personally a song that I don’t think many rock fans will tire of.

 

Number 11: We Are Harlot – “Dancing On Nails”

 

In 2015 the metal world lost a talented vocalist and the rock industry gained a fantastic new band “We Are Harlot” with charismatic vocalist Danny Worsnop. I had this video on repeat for weeks after I heard it for the first time. It is a great song to introduce the band to a new fan base and it makes you forget your inhibitions.

 

Number 10: The Fuel – “Revolution”

 

The Fuel got signed to Record Label Suburban Records on the 8th of December 2015. I love discovering new bands that are relatively unknown and delivers quality production and songs I can sink my teeth into. The Fuel is one of those bands and one of my greatest discoveries this year. “Revolution” is a fantastic song and I can’t help lip-syncing every time I hear it!

Check out their Band of the Month feature on The Rock Riff here: https://therockriff.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/band-of-the-month-the-fuel/

 

Number 9: Highly Suspect – “Lydia”

 

This song was nominated for the 58th Grammy Awards for Best Rock Song and after the song peaked at Number 4 on the US Mainstream Rock Songs chart I think we all know that this song has made a major impact on 2015. A great rock song that builds anticipation with a unique arrangement and the vocalist’s voice becomes more urgent as the song progresses.

 

 

Number 8: Halestorm – “I Am The Fire”

I had a difficult decision to make when I wanted to make a choice between “Amen” and “I Am The Fire” by Halestorm. The reason I chose “I Am The Fire” is in part due to the escalating notes that Lzzy sings at 2:45 in the video. My jaw just dropped when I first heard that part. We all know that  Lzzy can sing, but she just took it to another level. The band creates a fantastic ebb and flow along with Lzzy’s vocals on this track.

 

Number 7: Bullet For My Valentine – “Venom”

The band’s new material took me by surprise, because I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. A rock song that everyone can relate to about removing toxic people in your life and having no regrets.

 

 

 

Number 6: Nothing More – “Jenny”

This song didn’t strike me at first, but after I learned the story behind the song I was hooked. The song is very personal to lead vocalist Jonny Hawkins about his aunt “Jenny” who has schizophrenia and his sister Jenna who has bipolar disorder. The band partnered with many organisations to bring awareness to people suffering from mental illness. The band partnered with the following organisations:

To Write Love on Her Arms – http://twloha.com
The Jed Foundation – http://www.jedfoundation.org
Bring Change 2 Mind – http://bringchange2mind.org
International Bipolar Foundation – http://www.ibpf.org
Young Minds – http://www.youngminds.org.uk

 

Number 5: Papa Roach – “Gravity” ft Maria Brink

The style and variety in this song is appealing. Jacoby depicts his vulnerability in the song’s lyrics. Having Maria Brink from In This Moment perform on this track adds another dimension to the song and I feel it makes the song more relatable. I’m in love with the music video, it matches the title of the song as it adds a surreal quality to the track.

 

Number 4: Pop Evil – “Footsteps (Go Higher)”

An inspiring and unique offering from Pop Evil for their fifth studio album. I love the pop art/comic book look of the video and it is executed flawlessly. A song that you will be singing for the rest of the day!😀

 

Number 3: Bring Me The Horizon – “Throne”

An epic stadium-sized rock song. I can just imagine the audience going crazy when this song is being performed live. An empowering, electronic lyrical force that will make you believe the sky’s the limit. Prepare to hit the replay button!

 

Number 2: Disturbed – “The Sound of Silence”

I was flabbergasted when I heard this song for the first time. I couldn’t believe that David Draiman was singing, I have never heard him sing like he did on this track. A cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” was the last cover that I expected Disturbed to do. This song will definitely gain Disturbed a new fan base. I have witnessed friends on Facebook share this song and I know they don’t listen to rock/metal music. The art direction for the music video is superb and the viewers can get ready for some serious goosebumps. Enjoy!

 

NUMBER 1: Shinedown – “Cut The Cord”

I was super excited when Shinedown finally made their come back after two years of near silence from the band. Their fifth album “Threat To Survival” made its arrival on the 18th of September 2015. The lead single from the album “Cut The Cord” released on the 29th of June 2015. The song not surprisingly reached No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. The song has a positive message that encourages people to let go of whatever is holding them back and a reminder to all that we control our own destiny. This song pull no punches and the video reiterates that sentiment. The band’s performance allows the viewer to appreciate their chemistry and makes you feel as if you have stepped into their private rehearsal space.

 

Here is to 2016 and may there be many more quality rock moments!

Rock Regards,

 

Lauren K