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56th Grammy’s Follow-Up

I guess it’s no surprise that Black Sabbath won.  It’s also no surprise, from what I read, that the metal category was not aired on TV.  It’s really a shame that metal just can’t seem to get any kind of real public recognition in America.  At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter, I suppose.  Europeans embrace the genre much more openly than America. Perhaps, that was one of the many reasons I really enjoyed living in England for a while.

According to our humble poll, those who voted thought Black Sabbath would or should win.  Dream Theater came in a close second, with Killswitch Engage and Volbeat evenly rounding out the rest of the votes.  Anthrax got no love.  One thing the poll doesn’t illustrate is whether or not you thought Black Sabbath “should” have won or you just thought they would.

I haven’t listened to the new Black Sabbath album much, but from what I read it was pretty well received.  Personally, based on the rest of the bands, once again it boiled down to popularity in my opinion.  Not that Black Sabbath doesn’t deserve to be awarded for their contributions to metal, but if any of those other bands had been given the award, I think (mostly) only metalheads would have known who they were.  So, imagine what the voting committee thinks?   I don’t think one needs to be a rocket scientist to know who Black Sabbath.  In hindsight it is kind of funny that the guy who bit the head off a dove won a Grammy.  There you have it.  At least the Grammy’s selected all metal bands unlike last year where Halestorm really just didn’t fit in with the rest of the pedigree.

Congrats Black Sabbath.

Monday Metal Madness – 56th Grammy’s

1015599-grammy-award-617-409It’s time for the *yawn* Grammy’s; excuse me I don’t mean to be rude, but this normally a waste of time for metal and for people who like metal.  However, this year might be a bit different.  Keep in mind this is America; we are talking about a country where metal is not as out in the open as it is across Europe.  I miss Europe!  I can see where my European friends would think this is a weak list of “metal” bands, and I would normally agree, but again this America and I want to point out one thing.  These are all metal bands.  Last year, Halestorm beat out Megadeth, Anthrax, Marilyn Manson, Iron Maiden and Lamb of God if I remember correctly.  Really?  Nothing against the catchy Halestorm, but they won out of sheer popularity and record sales.  They got played on the radio…during daylight hours.  It just goes to show that the people who run the Grammy’s and/or cast votes know nothing about “great” metal.  Again, nothing against Halestorm, I do like them, but how does a band like that beat such heavyweights?  The year before, Foo Fighters cleaned house and though they are a great band, I wouldn’t exactly call them metal.  Again, they beat out actual metal bands.

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ChristopherMammal’s Top Albums Of 2013: #20 – #11

Metal 2013


From the agonising it required just to select an initial Top 60, I’d say 2013 was a damn good year for metal. We saw great bands from the past continuing to turn out fantastic albums. A surge of new bands across all genres arrived and pumped new interpretations and sheer skill into the metalsphere. Current and recent favourites lived up to their reputations and delivered outstanding work.

It won’t surprise my Metal State Of Mind colleagues that nearly half of my final Top 20 are progressive metal. At the same time it pleases me that my list includes eight different main genres. This is further proof that bands across the metal spectrum have been deliciously productive this year. Gauging by the various schedules of new albums on the way, 2014 is going to be another good vintage.

I’m not going to write anything about the individual albums on my list. As far as I’m concerned, the quality of all of them speaks much more eloquently than I can (and I’m a lazy Mammal). All I ask is that you accept I had special reasons for loving all of these albums, not just for the music but for sundry other reasons as well. They all struck special chords in the part of my head where other people have brains. Read the rest of this entry

Album Review: 13 by Black Sabbath

black-sabbath-13-1370285735After writing up, not liking, and then deleting and rewriting and then throwing away again  and again my review of Black Sabbath’s new album 13 I’m going to just put an end to it now and let a big ol’ brain fart burst forward from my finger tips and shoot from the hip and type up my thoughts on the album without following any of my rules for trying to create a compelling or flowing review.  So, pardon the atrocious writing style or grammatical errors you may find here.  This was the only way for me to express myself about one of my all time favorite bands.

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Album Review: The Mouths of Madness by Orchid

Orchid-The-Mouths-Of-Madness-ArtworkI may be a bit premature in saying this, but I think that the best Black Sabbath album to be released this year will not come from Black Sabbath, but from the Black Sabbath inspired band Orchid.  If I didn’t know any better I would swear that their new album, The Mouths of Madness, was released in the 1970s in between the bevy of other iconic Black Sabbath albums and Ozzy was just trying out a new vocal style.  From the riffs, the grooves, song structures, down even to the cover art that definitely has a Master of Reality crossed with Vol. 4 look to it, this album is pure Sabbath.  And with such blatant stylistic similarities to the fathers of metal, you would imagine that a band could never reach the heights that Black Sabbath did during their peak.  Well, if The Mouths of Madness was a legit Black Sabbath album, it would rank as one of my all time favorites up there with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and the landmark self-titled album.  And coming from the huge Black Sabbath fan I am, that’s saying quite a lot.

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Matt’s Top 25 Favorite Cover Songs: #2- Into the Void covered by Monster Magnet

charlie_dont_surfBlack Sabbath’s anti-Vietnam classic tune “Into the Void” has been covered numerous times by many different rock and metal bands, but out of the many that are out there, none seem to not only capture the essence of the song, but also elevate it to a ‘higher’ plane.  Starting out with a low-key drum procession ushering vocalist Dave Wyndorf acting out the part of a paranoid infantryman in the jungles of Vietnam the slow build up of downtuned guitars begin to add a healthy dose of Jacob’s Ladder to the sound as it trips out into a bit of psychedelia.  And then the song proper starts and Monster Magnet simply just own it slipping out here and there to embrace delusions of Charlie round the corner and the Tango sluts dancing in Hell.

While the original is a timeless classic that will never stale, Monster Magnet really went above and beyond the call of duty and injected such a huge amount of color and personality to the tune.  When I listen to the Sabbath version I get imagery of the whole broad picture of Vietnam, but when Monster Magnet jam it out it all becomes much more intense and personal.  I get the picture of a soldier directly in the bush gripping a rifle as he looks at his dead squadmates and is laughing maniacally as he prepares for his last stand vowing to take Charlie down with him, and maybe dreaming of some surfing afterwards.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

Monster Magnet Version:

Black Sabbath 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.

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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Matt’s Top 25 Favorite Cover Songs: #15- Sabbra Cadabra covered by Metallica

tumblr_m8zjenrpzR1rpgw7vo1_500Well, what a nice coincidence, today, Feb.14 is recognized as the day you fork your money over to Hallmark and show your significant other that you love them more on this day instead of any other day of the year.  Single people also get to be reminded that they are alone as they get berated by sappy lovey dovey stuff from their friends in relationships.  I wonder how many hits those wank sites get today.  Anywho, my pick for #15 is one of the cover of a Black Sabbath ode to love, “Sabbra Cadabra”, covered by Metallica.

What I dig about the Metallica cover is that it is able to capture the fun and energy of the original track and also work in that classic ‘Tallica sound.  Hetfeild sounds great in the vocal part and suits the song well with his bluesy singing style and Kirk’s guitar tone and wah-wah abuse sound tailored this song.  There is also a nice little segue into my all time favorite Black Sabbath tune, “A National Acrobat”, towards the end of the track that is masterfully woven into the cover before it seamlessly works its way back into the rockin’ sounds of the former.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Metallica Version:

Original Black Sabbath Version (Sabbra Cadabra):

Original Black Sabbath Version (A National Acrobat):

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Song of the Week: Black Sabbath

fondo_blacksabbath_1024Today, Feb. 13, marks the 43rd birthday of quite possibly the most important album in all of metal’s history.  To call Black Sabbath’s eponymous debut anything less than pioneering, innovating, genre defining, and all those other adjectives saved for use when describing something of the highest order would be considered a grave crime.  If not for Ozzy, Tony, Geezer, and Bill making throughout use of the diminished 5th, dark blues sound, and menacing lyrics, the music that we all love so much today would not be here.

One of my favorite moments of the hallmark album is right on the first song of the record and simply sums up what I thought the first time I heard Sabbath’s debut.  After the sounds of a storm rolling in and the dirge bells ringing the dark and oppressive atmosphere of the song takes a turn for evil as Tony Iommi plays what may be the most recognizable intro riffs ever in music.  The sheer darkness and evil that exudes those notes is undeniable and then Bill Ward’s drums echo in to add a sacrificial ritual feel and Geezer’s bass calls in the thunder.  But the part that really gets me is Ozzy’s first line, which pretty says what we were all thinking.  “What is this that stands before me?”

I can only imagine what it was like for people first hearing this back in 1970 and how this new and crazy style of music must have effected them.  How it must have terrified them and made them run for safety, lol.  Actually, some people did take the evil sound of the music in the wrong direction and label Sabbath as Satanists, when in fact, the song “Black Sabbath” was more a warning against turning to the dark side.  Oh, well, that’s people for ya.  Anywho, a huge happy birthday to Black Sabbath and one of the best metal songs ever written.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!