Category Archives: Best of the Best

Metal State’s Best of the Best: 2010-2014 #9


Medals

In our quest to keep youse guys informed about the best heavy metal has to offer and to stroke our own egos, we have engaged in a no-holds-barred battle royale to decide on the top ten albums of five-year periods flowing backwards from modern times to the years when stock in hairspray and cocaine went hand in hand (i.e. the 80s). Two or three times a week we will reveal a collective pick from the individual nominations, culminating in the best record of each block. Some picks will be obvious, some surprises, all the best the genre has to offer. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

 

Wintersun- Time1Wintersun – Time 1

Melodic Death Metal (Finland, 2012)
Nominated by Christopher Mammal

Wintersun love their recapitulation codas. There’s nothing wrong with that. Beethoven also loved them. A coda of this type is a re-visit to a structural theme developed earlier in the music. Most songs have some sort of coda, usually in the closing section. Wintersun use their special coda throughout the album to make every track on “Time 1” hearken in some way to the mountain-sized second track, “Sons of Winter and Stars”. The effect is subtle at times, yet it is pervasive. This gives the entire album a symphonic compositional structure which has been echoed in modern rock operas.

By the time I discovered Wintersun’s eponymous first album a few years after its release in 2004, melodic death had already become my most-played sub-genre of metal; it still is. Wintersun excel at it. Jari Mäenpää is a wizard at both clean and dark vocals. I’m not sure how he pronounces his name, but his voice swells with the same amount of emotion that Sibelius put into his masterwork, “Finlandia”. Meanwhile the instrumentation is as fluid and varied as it is excellent. All round, this is one of my top albums of the last 65 years.

So come on, Wintersun! Only two albums since you formed 11 years ago? This Mammal really needs more, please. My wife and cats need a change from your lines which I’ve corrupted to sing badly while I potter around: “We are the sons of winter and stars, we come from a land without bars. We don’t drink your beer and we don’t like wine, and we’re always in bed before nine.”

 

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Metal State’s Best of the Best: 2010-2014 #10


Medals

In our quest to keep youse guys informed about the best heavy metal has to offer and to stroke our own egos, we have engaged in a no-holds-barred battle royale to decide on the top ten albums of five-year periods flowing backwards from modern times to the years when stock in hairspray and cocaine went hand in hand (i.e. the 80s). Two or three times a week we will reveal a collective pick from the individual nominations, culminating in the best record of each block. Some picks will be obvious, some surprises, all the best the genre has to offer. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

 

Xerath - II#10: Xerath – II

Progressive Death Metal (UK, 2011)
Nominated by ChristopherMammal

Xerath like to describe their music as cinematic. It matches that description by combining progressive death with extremely melodic metal, richly rounded by the soundtrack style of the keyboards, the vaulted vocal choruses and epic grandeur in the compositions. The solo harsh vocals would be just as well suited to melodic black metal as death, which adds an extra layer of pleasure for me. The guitars, bass and drums, too, are unconstrained by anything formulaic.

The considerable use of keyboards may push Xerath a little too far into prog territory to satisfy the more hardline metalheads completely. My love of prog rock, however, makes Xerath my sort of metal band. There are plenty of dark, almost brutal passages in the music, as well as sections brimming with thrashy groove, but the overall sound of Xerath places great emphasis on melody.

What I’ve written describes all three of Xerath’s albums. Their debut album in 2009 bowled me over. So did their third album, released last year. All of their music is terrific. What swung my pendulum towards their second album is the mighty opening track, “Unite to Defy”. It’s one of my favourite metal songs of this century.