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Tales from Bandcamp: A Few Nature Metal Albums I Quite Like


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat exactly is ‘nature metal’?  I don’t know, it’s just a label I slap on stuff that has heavy themes of nature either in the lyrics or music itself.  Often it turns out to be some kind of trippy black metal band, but I don’t just restrict it to that.  Today being Earth Day and all I thought I’d post about some albums I really enjoy from this ‘genre’ as it is one of my favorite subgenres of metal.

Since I like Bandcamp a lot as well and thick everyone should be buying from there, I am restricting this post to records that are available there as well as streamable in full so you guys can give them as listen.  Also, one record per band and stuff that is somewhat modern.  If you have any ‘nature metal’ albums you’d like to recommend to me, please, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!  Enjoy!!  Peace Love and Metal!!!

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Mammal’s 21-Year Hit Parade: The Stats


MetalCatSorting out my year-by-year hit parades taught me a lot about myself and my changing tastes in metal. If you’re ever so bored that you start drawing faces on all the potatoes in the pantry, you may find it interesting and perhaps illuminating to do such an exercise too.

The big pattern was clear to me before I started making my lists. Even with my museum exhibit of a brain I knew that I’d been listening to less symphonic and heavy metal and more of the harder music over the years. My personal average scores for all my selections are thus an average over a long period, not a snapshot of any particular year in that period. If there’s been a constant over those two decades, it would be prog metal.

I used a fairly common scoring system to analyse my hit parades. For some years I had as few as ten selections and for the last year, 2013, I chose 25 songs. For the sake of consistency I cut my lists to the top 10 songs for each year. Then, for each year, I scored 10 points for #1, 9 points for #2, and so on down to 1 point for #10. Microsoft Excel did the rest for me.

But first! Yes! Before I insert my lists, it is is time to reveal one of the best-kept secrets in the Universe… the true identity of Dark Metal Cat, my constant adviser and referee. He’s taken off his costume and revealed himself as…

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… Tiny Tiny Cakey Kitten, a.k.a. Cookie Cat or Caucus Caterus Cattus or Flubby, the world’s fattest thin cat. He doesn’t play the guitar. He’s a keyboard artist. He can make Windows do things I can’t, and he does it often. My darling wife doesn’t like metal and won’t go to sleep on my desk in front of the monitor, so I couldn’t use her to put in creative typing or exit from unsaved work.

My top bands of the last 21 years

1. Opeth (Sweden), Progressive Death Metal: 73
2. Dream Theater (USA), Progressive Metal: 36
3. Riverside (Poland), Progressive Metal: 33
4. Dimmu Borgir (Norway), Symphonic Black Metal: 29
5. Therion (Sweden), Symphonic Heavy Metal: 27
6. TIE: Borknagar (Norway), Folk Black Metal ~and~ Leprous (Norway), Progressive Metal: 26
8. Arch Enemy (Sweden), Melodic Death Metal: 25
9. Ayreon (Netherlands), Progressive Metal: 24
10. Orphaned Land (Israel), Folk Death Metal: 23

My top metal genres and sub-genres of the last 21 years

1. Symphonic Metal: 127
2. Folk Metal: 125
3. Progressive Death Metal: 105
4. Melodic Death Metal: 87
5. Progressive & Experimental Metal: 78
6. Thrash Metal: 60
7. Gothic Metal: 44
8. TIE: Black Metal ~ and ~ Doom Metal: 39
10. Stoner & Sludge Metal: 38

My top metal countries of the last 21 years

1. Sweden: 219
2. USA: 216
3. Norway: 131
4. UK: 122
5. Finland: 86
6. Netherlands: 71
7. Poland: 65
8. Germany: 43
9. Israel: 33
10. Canada: 26

Matt’s Top 25 Favorite Cover Songs: #21- Broadsword coverd by Turisas


conanI consider myself a decently sized Jethro Tull fan.  Beyond the copious amounts of flute in their music, everything else surrounding the band is more oft than not, sublime.  Catchy, progressive, engaging, yadda yadda yadda.  And beyond their blockbuster records like Thick as a Brick and Aqualung, they have a ton of other albums that never received the spotlight like their earlier albums.  One era of the band that many people slam was when they took a journey down a more synthesizer heavy route adding many electronic elements to their music.  Personally, I think that the concept of adding non-folk instruments to a band heavily rooted in folk music rubbed many in the wrong way and the handful of albums released on this path never got the attention they deserved.  One of those albums released during that period quickly found its way to becoming a personal favorite Tull album for me.  The Beast and the Broadsword was able to combine that cool synth sound with the heavy folk sound to a successful degree and packs a litany of wonderful Jethro Tull songs with some great scope and tons of proggy progginess.  And by far my choice track off said album is the battle classic “Broadsword”.  The tune is just so powerful and heroic, one can not resist the urge to arm thyself with double-edged steel and feel the desire to rush into battle.

Which brings me to the covering band.  Turisas have made quite the name for themselves for more or less fathering ‘battle metal’.  When one listens to their music, scenes of heroics and grand battles fought with blade and horse flash through the mind and the want to join in the melee looms.  So, what band would be more fitting to cover Jethro Tull’s most heroic song?  Turisas of course, and what a bang up job they do.  Infusing the orchestral elements and insanely huge scope the battlers are famous for, these Finnish warmasters end up adding such a bevy of color and life to the already excellent song.  While I love the synth sound of the original, hearing this particular track modernized with more live instruments and the baritone vocals thrown in I can’t help but wonder what Turisas could do with the rest of The Beast and the Broadsword.  Here’s to wishes 😉  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!

Turisas Version:

Original Jethro Tull Version:

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Matt’s Top 10 Non-Metal Things of 2012


2012-So-FarIn case any of you may be curious as to what we enjoy outside the realm of metal we decided to do a list of non-metal things that we highly enjoyed this year, like music other than metal/hard rock, movies, video games.  Me and Reggie will both be doing one, so you can get 20 great suggestions of some really neat things.  Last year I allowed myself to add things that I discovered that year, but this year I’m limiting myself to stuff released in 2012, with the exception of video games because a lot of 2011 games didn’t get time to get played by me until 2012.  Enjoy!  Peace Love and Metal!!!

#10 Maserati VII by Maserati

I’ve known about this band for a little while now and have enjoyed their unique brand of electronic infused groovy instrumental prog rock, but this year I found myself completely entranced with their latest album simply titled Maserati VII.  Each song is just overflowing with great beats (made with real drums) and Chris Farley-sized grooves (played with real bass and guitars).  Great music for just chilling out, popping in at a party, or cruising at high speeds in your, ummm, Maserati.

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Reggie’s Top 100 Favorite Albums of All Time #20-16


As we journey down the path to my number 1 favorite album of all time, we have finally breached the top 20.  From here on out, you will likely see more and more classic metal albums appearing on the list except for one or two that are relatively new (to me) compared to the rest.  This all-time list is an ongoing effort started by our friends at The History of Metal page on facebook.  Each day we list another album until we get to the end which should take us close to the end of the year.  Below is my next list of five as we near our way to #1.  Enjoy!

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Matt’s Top 100 Favorite Albums of All Time: #20-#16


Over on my favorite forum for rambling about metal, The History of Metal (it’s an open Facebook forum, so anyone, meaning you, can join and flap your jaw about metal with a wide variety of metalheads from all over the world), the admin made a challenge to all the members to create their top 100 albums of all time. Loving making lists I’m all on this. Between the ~1500 albums I have there is a lot to filter through and this has turned into quite a daunting, yet fun, challenge. This list will represent where I am with my favorite albums right now, if I were to do this last year or next year, while being similar, I’m sure there would be lots of differences. My only self-imposed limitation on this is I’m confining each band 3 albums in the list to avoid entire, very large, discographies over saturating it. Every 5 days or so I’ll make a post with the next 5 entries into the list. Fellow bloggers, I extend this challenge to you (and be sure to let me know where and when you’ll be posting it, I’d love to read it), and for readers without a blog join up with THOM and post yours there! Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

#20 Still Life by Opeth

And here is where Opeth hits the ball out of the park. With a sizable recording budget and a huge vision everything about Opeth improved immensely over their previously recorded material (which is a trio of damn fine albums, so that’s saying something). The inclusion of new member Martin Mendez on bass brought some much-needed full body to Opeth’s sound and perfectly compliment Mikael’s much deeper growls and the massive improvement of Martin Lopez’s drumming add a great groove to the album ultimately adding yet another enthralling dynamic to Opeth’s sound. I love everything about this record from its flowing and serpentine song structures to the somewhat cliché’ yet Opeth makes it work narrative about a man exiled from his village and torn away from his love for not believing in God. There’s that harrowing intro the album in “The Moor”, the acoustic melody section in “Godhead’s Lament”, that solo in “Benighted”, the insanely sick riffs of “Moonlapse Vertigo”, the damn cool jazzy nature of “Face of Melinda” (pointless Opeth trivia: did you know Mikael’s daughter is named Melinda?), and the brutality of “Serenity Painted Death”. If you need proof that Opeth are one of the best bands in the whole of music you needn’t look any further than Still Life (or further down my list 😉 ).

#19 Sabotage by Black Sabbath

The last great Sabbath album before the Ozzy-era Sabbath started to show signs of wear and tear Sabotage contains some of the bands most diverse and solid work. From the hard rockers “Hole in the Sky” and “Thrill of it All”, the rock epics “Megalomania” and “The Writ”, and the ‘I swear if I ever become a pro wrestler this will be my epic intro music’ “Supertzar”, there is so much to love about this album. As always Tony Iommi is a beast writing some of the riffs which would later inspire me to pick up a guitar and Ozzy’s unique voice sounds superb throughout the whole record. Not much more to say other than I adore this record, Bill Ward’s red pants and Ozzy’s high heels on the cover crack me up, and “Megolomania” is one of my favorite songs of all time.

#18 Panopticon by Isis

Hearing Isis for the first time is an experience I will never forget. I was attending a Tool concert at an open-air venue and had lawn seats. Me and my buddies got there early enough for the opening bands. I happened to be in a really chill mood that day and the weather was beautiful out so I thought I would pass some time by just laying down on the lawn and zoning out. Isis happened to be the opening band at the show and when they took the stage I just continued to lay there staring at the sky turn from day to night in my own little world while they played their music. Feeling the vibrations from the amps in my body and the tones from the my ears it wasn’t long before the combination of my self-inflicted trance and the hypnotizing music of Isis transported me to another world and for the hour that they were on stage I just lay there blissfully floating on cloud 9. To put how that experience felt into words is hard to do, but it felt so spiritual and out-of-body. Needless to say the next day I was quick to the record store to grab me an Isis record which happened to be Panopticon and I was instantly in love with it. Any time I need to put my spirit to rest and just zone out this is one of the first records I reach for. And when I just want to hear some great post-metal Panopticon also fits the bill. All of their other records are excellent, but this one holds a special place in my heart due to the above experience.

#17 Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera

While I love Cowboys from Hell, on VDoP Pantera really found their sound and took it to a new level. Angrier vocals spat from Phil’s mouth for war, insane riffs and solos rise to make listeners fucking hostile, a tighter rhythm section you’d have to live in a hole not to notice, and a crisper production make this album take a walk across the Rubicon as one of the must have classic metal albums of all time and without it your record collection is quite hollow. Even regular people who once thought metal was no good grooved on this album as it stormed the charts. This love I have for this album is immense and, by demons be driven, I will constantly spin this album regularly until the day I day.

#16 Jar of Flies by Alice in Chains

As much as I love AiC’s heavier works, I feel the band shined brightest when they mellowed out and played their somber semi-acoustic ballads. While the tone on Jar of Flies is anything but happy, the sincerity in the songs is more than true. Layne’s lyrics and vocals may be about his struggles with addiction, but written so well that just about any human can find a way to perfectly relate to his introspection. Paired with Jerry Cantrell’s amazing guitar work and songwriting skills, JoF is a 30 minutes of intensely powerful music that brings positivity to a brooding session. For me, JoF is a very personal album with songs like “Rotten Apple” and “No Excuses” really hitting me on a very personal level and “Nutshell” almost bringing me to tears every time I hear it.

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Matt’s Top 100 Favorite Albums of All Time: #100-#96


Over on my favorite forum for rambling about metal, The History of Metal (it’s an open Facebook forum, so anyone, meaning you, can join and flap your jaw about metal with a wide variety of metalheads from all over the world), the admin made a challenge to all the members to create their top 100 albums of all time.  Loving making lists I’m all on this.  Between the ~1500 albums I have there is a lot to filter through and this has turned into quite a daunting, yet fun, challenge.  This list will represent where I am with my favorite albums right now, if I were to do this last year or next year, while being similar, I’m sure there would be lots of differences.  My only self-imposed limitation on this is I’m confining each band 3 albums in the list to avoid entire, very large, discographies over saturating it.  Every 5 days or so I’ll make a post with the next 5 entries into the list.  Fellow bloggers, I extend this challenge to you (and be sure to let me know where and when you’ll be posting it, I’d love to read it), and for readers without a blog join up with THOM and post yours there!  Enjoy!!!  Peace Love and Metal!!!

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Some of my Favorite Movies


While I may not talk about movies much here, I watch a lot of them.  I go to the theater once a week and like to squeeze in a DVD when I can.  This is a repost from my old blog with some updates done to it of my all time favorite films.  What are your favorite flicks?  Enjoy!  Peace Love and Metal!!

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