This was where the really tough part began. It was difficult enough to narrow my selections down to 75 metal albums. Making a final list of my Top 50 was more challenging still. Choosing my favourites from those 50 for my Top 20 sometimes felt impossible. In some ways it still does.
The challenge was as great in my rankings of the other genres in my hit parades.
My top few on every list shouted out to me clearly that they were extra-special. For the others in my top rankings, the order would quite likely change if I were to re-rank them. Enjoyment of music can change very subtly under the tiniest of emotional or other influences.
I shan’t even try to make a combined top list from all of my preferences in different genres.
Posted in Best of 2015
Tags: Alternative Rock, Atrorum, avant-garde black metal, beast, Casket Soil, Ei Valo Minua Seuraa, Folk industrial metal, Folk Pagan Metal, Freitag Der 13., Fusion jazz, In The Gardens Of Vermin, Khatsaturjan, Machine & Man, Mammal's Best of 2015 – Part 7/10, melodic death metal, Nightland, Nik Turner, Obsession, Polyester Zeal, progressive death metal, Psychedelic space rock, Red Sun Rising, Snarky Puppy & Metropole Orkest, Space Fusion Odyssey, Structurae, Sylva, symphonic progressive rock, Tanzwut, Vorna
Over the weekend I checked the album selections for 2015 on quite a few websites that cover the various genres I love. Some of them, especially those with long lists like mine, feature bands I’ve never heard of. No doubt my lists include bands many people don’t know.
I believe I speak for all of us at Metal State when I say we end every year with a nagging, twitchy feeling that we missed something great during the year. It’s almost certain that we did. In the last 12 months we were offered a couple of thousand albums to review. No person, and no team of four reviewers, could possibly listen properly to that many albums.
To the bands that did make it onto my lists, even if I ranked you #50 that means I liked your work more than a few hundred other albums I played and enjoyed. The same goes for the lists my
weird esteemed colleagues have posted. More good music is being made now than at any time, and I’ve been listening to plenty of music during most of my two-thirds of a century on this planet.
Posted in Best of 2015
Tags: 6:33, Alco Frisbass, Bloom, Caligula's Horse, Deadly Scenes, Eclectic jazz-prog fusion, Ecstatic Vision, Experimental Metal, Extinct, Eye of Providence, Gothic Dark Metal, Heavy psychedelic rock, Heidevolk, Inventor, Mammal's Best of 2015 – Part 6/10, melodic death metal, Messer Chups, Moonspell, Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Sonic Praise, The Agonist, The Anagram Principle, The Incredible Crocotiger, Velua, viking metal
The grim-faced troops brace themselves. The whistle blows and the sergeant yells, “Over the top, men!” They emerge from the trench to a hailstorm of machine-gun bullets.
I’m glad my sorting of hundreds of albums in various categories wasn’t anything like that, except for the “over the top” part. Or maybe “overboard” would be a better word. I cannot contain myself, not only because of my expanding waistline but because I love so many kinds of music. Last year didn’t disappoint me; 2015 was a great year for all the main genres I’ve grown to love during my two-thirds of a century.
Tags: Amanita Virosa, Crazy P, Crossover progressive rock, District 97, Electronic jazz / deep house, folk death metal, Heavy rock, Indie Rock, istweaver, Kayleth, Lucid fly, Mammal's Best of 2015 - Part 1/10, melodic death metal, Melodic death/black "hospital" metal, Nechochwen, Northland, Pagan folk metal, Royal Thunder, space rock
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!!!
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.”
Trying to pick out the very best death metal of the year so far was a bitch of a job. Of the many deathy albums we’ve been invited (and sometimes we’ve asked) to review, there are dozens I like. Eventually I decided the fairest approach would be to divide those albums into three groups – melodic and symphonic death; prog and technical death; and assorted death. That still left a pile of death to listen to.
Not that I minded, of course. Listening to and writing about music has become my consuming pastime since I sort of retired when I turned 65. Even so, I shall use one of the M-words to describe the nature of the task in hand. It was… no, not Majestic. Massive, yes. Monumental… yeah, that’s good because it fits so much of the music on my death row.
On Friday we posted our digest of the first five female-fronted albums our buddies at Sonic Cathedral reviewed during April. On Saturday we slept late. On Sunday we rested, it being the seventh day and all that. Today we feature the other four albums SC reviewed last month.
They are all goodies, like us and the people at SC. Some of them are the best, like all of the followers of SC and Metal State.
To win a three-year contract from a big label like Sleaszy Rider Records, you have to be pretty good at what you do. Don’t take my word on that. No, do take my word. I’m the expert, right? I also do brain surgery in my spare time, and I invented the Higgs boson for those physicists at CERN to discover. Myth of a Life is signed up to release a full-length album. I trust they’ll do more after that during their three Sleaszy years, and I shan’t be in the least surprised if their contract is extended. They attracted the record company with their style of melodic death metal on their self-funded debut EP, “Erinyes”. It took about a year for the band to put the EP together at their base in Sheffield, England. The vocalist, Phil’Core’ D, says all the band members contributed to create “an amalgamation of the dark melodies of melodic death metal and the ferocious riffs of thrash metal.” The band started as the brainchild of Takanori Shono, previously guitarist in the Japanese melodic death band Impenetrability. The current line-up is completed by Damiano Porcelli (ex-Golem) on drums, Charlie Power on bass and Dave Warren on guitars. I played “Erinyes” for two other people who love melodic death as much as I do – Tiny Tiny Cakey Kitten, who ghost-writes everything for me when he isn’t snacking on moths that fly into the office; and my little buddy Simphiwe, 11 years old, who has become probably the youngest and most ardent Zulu metalhead. They both thoroughly approve of Myth of a Life, so even if you don’t take my word, take theirs. Then check out the band on Facebook.
As we did last month and as we intend to do every month, we’re very pleased to share some of the information posted during the month by our friends at Sonic Cathedral, the website that specialises in reviews of albums by female-fronted bands. Sonic Cathedral covers a wide range of female-fronted metal and rock.
Once again we’re presenting the album details, an intro from SC, and a link to the full review on SC’s website.
Posted in Exploring New Things
Tags: Cailyn, Cantus Lucidus, Coronatus, Crimson Blue, Eye of Providence, Gothic Art Metal, Gothic Metal, Kalidia, Kliodna, Lies' Device, melodic death metal, Melodic Metal, Neo-Classical Symphonic Progressive Rock, Power Metal, Pythia, Set Me Free, Shadows of a Broken Past, Sonic Cathedral’s female-fronted roundup for February, symphonic heavy metal, Symphony for a Hopeless God, The Agonist, The Angelic Performance, Voyager, Whyzdom
I hate it when Dark Metal Cat goes gallivanting with feline temptresses and isn’t here to write my intros for me.
A couple of the songs that top my list for 2013 are rather long. They’re worth it, says Dark Metal Cat. Aeon Zen’s song is my ideal of what a prog metal song should be. Of course it leans strongly towards the prog quarter. The Wintersun song embodies just about everything I love about harder melodic metal. It’s one of the best songs I’ve heard in the last 64 years, 9 months and 5 days.
The shorter number by Diablo Swing Orchestra is so… out there… that it sets the bar for many types of experimental metal.