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Matt’s Top Ten Video Games of 2015


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Just like it was for glorious metal, 2015 was an outstanding year for gamers.  Tons of new and exciting games big and small which pushed the boundries of the medium were released this year. And while I didn’t get to play everything that 2015 had to offer, what I did play were some top quality experiences that I will be playing for many years to come. My main gaming machines are the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS as well as a PC that needs to be upgraded before I can play most games from the current gen (ie. PS4), so while things like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 seem like obvious choices for my list, I won’t be able to play them till I upgrade to a PS4 or better PC.

Also worth noting that while I’d drop the remaster of Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for the 3DS at a high spot, I’m not including remakes/remasters here.  Though, it is easily one of the best remasters ever and it’s a remaster of my all time favorite game.  If you got a 3DS, it is an essential purchase, even worth buying the console for!  I’m also omitting games that were released in Europe in 2015 but not US until 2016 (and vice-versa), so you’ll see them on my 2016 list (namely Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam).

So, without further ado, here’s my ten favorite games released in 2015.

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Tales From Bandcamp: 5 Doom Metal Bands You Should Know About


Doom+metal+doom+metal_9cc41b_4923534I love me some doom metal.  Riffs as chewy as Dubble-Bubble, grooves that make Fat Albert look like Calista Flockhart, and more experimentation than a suburban teenager who just discovered weed and masturbation.  There’s so much to love from this genre, and yet I see that a lot of doom fans are still stuck in the Candlemass, St. Vitus, Black Sabbath days and they tend to not notice that there are a great amount of bands in the modern scene really innovating on the genre (while simultaneously keeping what’s so great about it intact).

Here’s a little list of five bands (in no particular order) which can be found on Bandcamp I feel any self-respecting doom fan should take the time to listen to.  My rules for this list were they had to have a full album to listen to on Bandcamp naturally, be relatively new, and they have to still be active.  So as much as I’d love to add Avatarium, Order of Israfel, or Alunah, they don’t quite meet my guidelines, so go check them out on your own time.  If you know of some doom bands that you want to shout out, drop a comment!  Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!! Read the rest of this entry

Matt’s All Time Favorite Video Games: #5-#1


top 25 gamesAs you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State).  I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since.  I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings.  Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games.  Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark.  Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played.  So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days).  Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.

For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number.  If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time.  And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games.  Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!

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Matt’s All Time Favorite Video Games: #15-#11


top 25 gamesAs you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State).  I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since.  I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings.  Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games.  Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark.  Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played.  So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days).  Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.

For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number.  If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time.  And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games.  Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!

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Matt’s Top 25 All Time Favorite Video Games: 20-16


top 25 gamesAs you may have noticed, I happen to be a big time gamer (as with the rest of us here on Metal State).  I started out on an Atari 2600 back in the beginnings of the 1980s and haven’t looked back since.  I can not think of a time in my life when I haven’t been completely in love with my digital darlings.  Not to brag, but I will, I have played and finished hundreds of games, and not like 100 something games.  Roughly counting, I’d say that number is up around the 500 mark.  Yet somehow in my ~30 solid years of gaming I have not sat down and tried to make list of the best games I have ever played.  So given we are slightly obsessed with lists around these parts, I figured it’s time to do so (my cohorts will be joining in with their lists as well in the coming days).  Every single game on this list I consider a must play and highly suggest you check all of them out.

For my own set rules I made the cut-off anything released before 2013 as I still need to let the new releases sink in a bit more and some games get an entry as a series and some games in the series get their own number.  If a specific game in a series affected me more than the rest, that game gets top billing and a series gets the number if I feel that the whole series works together to make a cognitive whole. I hope you all enjoy this little list and find some games to either revisit or discover for the first time.  And as always, I’d love to hear your favorite games.  Even though I have played a lot of games, chances are I may have overlooked a hidden gem and point in its direction is always welcome.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!!!

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Reggie and Matt’s All Time Favorite Cover Songs: #1 Hallowed Be Thy Name covered by Machine Head


Astral-Body-2When we started our “best of” lists a while back, we never showed each other what our favorites were before we posted them.  It wasn’t intentional nor was it a secret…it just ended up that we didn’t share our lists with anyone until it was time to post.  Matt’s list of favorite albums and cover tunes was as much of a surprise to me as I am sure mine was to him.  Despite being interested in many of the same bands, our musical tastes vary even though we are both huge fans of metal and everything under that umbrella.  For the first time, we have actually picked the same favorite #1 on any of our lists.  A few weeks ago, we both noticed that neither one of us posted this special cover that we both know each other likes a lot.  Low and behold, it’s because it’s sitting at number one.  -Reggie

Our thoughts after the jump.

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Matt’s Top 25 Favorite Cover Songs: #10- Number of the Beast covered by Djali Zwan


2003-spun-2The first time I heard this cover of one of Iron Maiden’s most celebrated songs, “The Number of the Beast”, it kinda of creeped up on me and caught me off guard.  Me and a couple of buddies had rented a movie called Spun from the video shop (remember those?) and not to long after popping it in my ears and brain got a bit confused.  I heard the moody acoustic guitars setting the rather depressing tone for the movie, but within a few seconds of the lyrics kicking I started saying this sounds really familiar.  Didn’t take me long to catch on that the tune was an acoustic cover.  And I don’t know if it was the context of the movie, which is about crystal meth addiction, or just an awesome job rearranging the song, but the lyrics of “The Number of the Beast” take on a whole new meaning in this cover.  In the original Iron Maiden version they have a very literal feel to them as images of demons and monsters course through the mind.  But here the demons that show themselves are grounded in real life alluding to the number of the beast being drug addiction.

If you have yet to see Spun, do check it out, it’s one hell of a mindrape of a movie filled with wacked out, yet sobering scenes and some terrific acting from Mickey Rourke, Jason Schwarzman, and Brittney Murphy (Trailer).  Check out the cover and the original and let us know what you think of this take on The Number of the Beast.  Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Djali Zwan version:

Original Iron Maiden Version:

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Matt’s Top 25 Favorite Cover Songs: #12- War Pigs covered by Cake


war Grooms CakeOutside of the all the metal and hard rock I listen to, one band that I completely love is Cake.  Between their funky grooves and vocalist John McCrea’s charisma laden monotone singing style they come off to me as one of the most original and fun bands from that quirky period of the mid-90s who are still kicking some ass today (saw them live last year for the 3rd time and damn do they still kick some ass).  Cake is also tasty and not a lie.  You may have also noticed I have a some love for Black Sabbath who rest in the top 1% of my all time favorite bands.  So the idea of mixing some Sabbath with a hefty serving of Cake would be sure to intrigue me, and lo and behold, their cover of the classic tune “War Pigs” is nothing but awesome.

Basically its the song done Cake style, but I’ll be damned if it don’t sound great with those big fat bass lines and trumpeter Vince DiFiore adding a well of spice to the song.  The addition of the Hammond and the occasional group “huah”s give this version a really great bite too.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

Cake Version:

Original Black Sabbath Version:

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And because I just happen to be talking about Cake covers I really dig and I have the B-Sides and Rarities album “War Pigs” is on spinning, I’d thought I’d post a totally un-metal song/cover I completely love.  And yes, I’m a big Muppets fan and good luck getting “Mahna Mahna” unstuck from your head.

Matt’s Top 25 Favorite Cover Songs: #13: A Whiter Shade of Pale covered by Black Label Society/Zakk Wylde


pianoI bet by now you’re starting to notice a trend in my covers list.  I tend to prefer covers of older classic, mainly non-metal songs, brought up to the modern age.  Can’t say exactly why, but I just really dig it.  Anywho, today’s entry seems a bit off kilter because it’s not exactly a ‘metalized’ cover of a song even though it is covered by a very prominent voice in the metal realm.

If you had parents who grew up in the 60s or are grew up in that time period yourself, you probably heard Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” countless times.  It was a big hit then, and even today it is one of the most played and requested tunes on classic rock radio.  It’s a very sad song, but damn if it isn’t beautiful.  If you’ve followed Black Label Society you’ve noticed by now that every so often they release an off the path album filled with more chill and mellow music instead of their groove laden, guitar theatrics album.  On those records, branded as the Hangover Music series, it’s Zakk Wylde who takes even more of the forefront and shows off a different vocal style (and IMO, better) and utilizes his stellar piano skills.  On Hangover Music vol. II he finds himself delivering one of his best performances ever as he tackles Procol Harum’s classic tune.

The soul he shows in both his vocals and piano playing is simply staggering.  The emotion he pour into the song feels like nothing he’s done before and his rendition of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” totally outdoes the original in every aspect IMO.  Having the piano at the forefront adds so much to the song and his rough and rugged vocals transform the song’s theme into something I can much easier connect with.  So, check it out, let us know what you though, and have a great day!  Peace Love and Metal.

Black Label Society/Zakk Wylde Version:

Original Procol Harum Version:

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The Power of the Riff Compels Me Pt. I


rhps-crh03-riffrafftimewarplThe riff, a melodic phrase, often constantly repeated, forming an accompaniment or part of an accompaniment for a soloist.  In metal, we are not lacking in the heavy use of them.  In fact the large majority of all metal and hard rock revolves around the riff.  The riff is what hooks you into a song, it’s what drives to keep you engaged, it’s what determines the phrasing of a good solo or breakdown.  So, needlessly saying, a fine riff will often lead to a great song.  Some bands excel at creating bold and brazen riffs (eg. doom metal, death metal, groove metal) and others may use a more mellow, low-key riff to build atmospheres for the other instruments to build a dynamic off of (eg. black metal, post-metal).   But whatever the approach is, the power of the riff compels us!

Some riffs have gone down in metal history as the greatest groups of music ever created.  Upon hearing the first few notes of the riff, you can identify the song in no time flat and chances are that the riff has spent extended time stuck in your brain more than once.  Here’s a list of what I consider the best riffs of heavy metal.  To show fairness to the newer bands out there, they’ll get inclusions also, so if you see a track you don’t know here, give it a listen, I guarantee there will be a damn sick riff contained within.  But on the flipside, I also feel that the real signifier of a solid and memorable riff is the test of time.  If over 20 years after hearing it the effect it has on me is still the same and my enjoyment of the song is still immense, then that sir, is a f’n killer riff.  To not turn this into a list of best Black Sabbath, Pantera, or ‘Tallica riffs, I’m limiting myself to one song per band, so if you dig a riff more than one not included in the list, make sure to give it a shout out in the comments.  And also, this is just scratching the surface of the best riffs in metal/hard rock, so be prepared for part deuce. Enjoy!!  Peace Love and Metal!!

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