Some bands evolve, some metamorphose. If you look at a butterfly you can still see the remnants of the shriveled caterpillar body still hanging around but for the most part the entirety is changed after a brief cocooning period. Unlike evolution where the change takes place over a huge period of time and many key features are still kept in tact, metamorphosis yields something quite different from its original and the process of change is quite abrupt. You could say a band like Opeth evolved into the prog rock powerhouse they are today slightly changing it up album after album. And Clutch took metamorphosis path when they injected some gospel/blues rock into their sludge metal sound on their self-titled sophomore record (the cocoon phase) and then fully embraced it on their third album, The Elephant Riders, where the metal edge was heavily toned down but still had a glaring presence. With both bands, if you listen to their latest in contrast with their earliest works, they are almost completely different bands but still maintain their cores. Metamorphosis is, however, a much more pronounced change. For their fifth full length album, High Country, The Sword have metamorphosed into something quite different from their sludgy doom metal beginnings.
I love the power of a good instrumental song. Sometimes they can be energizing or even relaxing depending on the band’s intent with the song. Some bands use an instrumental song to display a different, sometimes softer side. And, sometimes an instrumental is a collection of left over riffs and drum parts that didn’t make the final cut. Or, perhaps they just couldn’t find the words to go with the music. However they are composed, the instrumental song is a track I look for and hope to find on any album; though there are some bands where it’s almost an expectation. This list is 25 word-less songs that I find essential to my music library. I wouldn’t sweat over the exact order, but yeah the ones at or near the top of this list are definitely my favorites. I know there are many more instrumental songs out there, but these are mine…so to speak. This list is also limited to only three per band and only one band made this list three times. Enjoy!
14. March of the Lor – The Sword
This a particularly heavy The Sword song. I love how the song can swing from a cool 70s vibe and they turn into a song that could induce a nice circle pit. The sword has a calm and collective demeanor on stage and still cause a pit; as I witnessed at a show last year. These dudes can be quite heavy when they want to be and that’s one of the many reasons I like them so much.
13. Into The Lungs of Hell – Megadeth
Considering all the talent that has ever graced this band, I think they should have recorded more instrumental songs. Between the rhythm section and their guitar playing prowess, they could have made instrumental songs a regular thing. But, they have a few and this is the one that made my list. Again, loads of guitars! Yay! This a very well spliced fan video featuring humans…being human.
A couple of months ago, I caught wind of a cool show…co-headlined by The Sword and Clutch. If you are into that particular style of music I think you would find it to be a worthy show to attend. They happened to be passing though Denver; my (only) choice of cities for concerts and I planned on attending. However, when I was at Death Angel on 7 Nov, I heard that The Sword was performing in Fort Collins instead of Denver. I thought maybe this was a one-off show to occupy a day off, but when I did the research, I realized that Clutch and The Sword split the Denver date in two…The Sword in Fort Collins while Clutch still played as scheduled. Needless to say, based on the title of this article, I chose to see The Sword in Fort Collins which just happened to be an hour closer to home. Also performing were Fort Collins natives Bronze and Boulder, CO natives Black Acid Devil.
The 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!!
This ZZ Top cover is the newest on my list of cover song favorites. Cheap Sunglasses appears on The Sword’s 2012 album Apocryphon – deluxe version. Growing up, I thought ZZ Top was a cool band, but it wasn’t until the Eliminator album I first heard them; they had already been around a while by that point. Eliminator is the album featuring some of ZZ Top’s most famous songs; Sharp Dressed Man, Gimme All Your Lovin’, and Legs. I had the pleasure of seeing the 3-piece at Download 2009 and they were well received by the crowd.
As far as the song goes, it’s very nostalgic to me. I have known about it for about 30 years and even when I was so young, I thought it was cool. Back then sunglasses were cheap. We didn’t have the fancy unbreakable stuff we have today. The Sword, who has a similar vibe as ZZ Top, did a remarkable job covering the song. They basically kept the original song intact, but added a 2012 refresh to it with their personal touch.
Here is the live version from The Sword found on 2012’s deluxe album Apocryphon.
Here is the original recorded by ZZ Top in 1980 and featured on the album Degüello.
Favorite Cover Song #22
I know every year I say that this was one of the best years in metal, but its true, and 2012 was no different. I guess that says a lot about the state of modern heavy metal. The genre has grown into something that was unfathomable at its inception. In no other genre will you find such a diverse set of different acts all boasting such pure passion for what they do. I was also exposed much more music than usual this year since Metal State kinda took off with a spike in readers (thank you!!!) and we started receiving promos from labels and bands looking for exposure (don’t worry, we won’t tell you about the crappy stuff or skew our opinions because a label hooked us up with some free music or a t-shirt). So, when I think about 2012 in metal I can’t help but to return to reflecting on how diverse the genre has become. You will see in my toplist that no single sub-genre really dominates (well I guess you can tell I am a fan a prog metal and was big into the female fronted doom metal bands this year) and there are some amazing albums all across the board in metal this year. There were also a ton I left out which I will post about in the coming days in a quick honorable mentions post. So enough dilly dallying, let’s get it on! Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Mere seconds after I made my Video of the Week post The Sword released their new video for “Veil of Isis” off of their excellent new record Apocryphon. It would be a sin not to include it in my list of the best videos recently released and it’s a damn cool video and great song so instead of just going back and editing a 4th video in with the post it gets its own little place to call home. Basically a young girl takes some peyote given to her by a mysterious stranger and becomes a goddess in her trips. Yaaaaaa, taking hallucinogenic drugs from a random guy is
always a great idea, sign me up for 3 please. Does make for some really cool visuals though. Slightly NSFW, drug use and shots of the unclothed female glutamus maximus. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!
For the past six years The Sword has done nothing but impress me with their riff laden, groove based renditions of doom rock. Each record they released made huge improvements over the previous and took steps in bold new directions while always sticking to their core sound. On their previous album, Warp Riders, The Sword took a step out of doom drenched songs with mythological and fantasy undertones towards a more rock and roll focused album with a full on science fiction backdrop. In my opinion that record was the best thing The Sword has released to date, so needless to say expectations were quite lofty for the follow-up. I now have said successor in my hands and while Apocryphon doesn’t live up to the high expectations I had for it, it is nothing short of a remarkable album.
To say that I’m jazzed up about the new Sword album is quite the understatement. Since their debut record, Age of Winters, I have been totally enthralled by their hard-hitting blend of doom metal and hard rock. With each release since their debut they just became tighter and tighter culminating with 2010’s sci-fi epic Warp Riders. With that album we heard The Sword take a turn for more hard rock, bluesy sounding music with hints of doom metal sprinkled in and on their new release Apocryphon they ventured into that sound even more. After one playthrough I can say that I am wholly satisfied with the album and it will be getting lots of spins in the near and far future. Such great grooves, thick riffs, catchy songs, and all other great things you say about music you enjoy. When the honeymoon phase runs out and I can give a serious review on the record without fanboying all over it I’ll have one posted up, but until then give it a listen for yourself and let us know what you think. Click here or on the album cover above to go to the stream. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
P.S. In order to listen to the stream you have to solve a ‘puzzle’ which is easily cracked with a little trial and error. If you are feeling lazy, I took a screenshot of the completed ‘puzzle’ so you can click here for the solution and get right to listening.
As we journey down the path to my number 1 favorite album of all time, you will likely see more and more classic metal albums appearing on the list. Many of these albums have been my favorites for decades while some are relatively new….only came into my life in the last couple of years. 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 just up to the end of the year. Below is my next list of five as we near our way to #1. Enjoy!