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!!!
Progressive Death Metal (UK, 2011)
Nominated by ChristopherMammal
Xerath like to describe their music as cinematic. It matches that description by combining progressive death with extremely melodic metal, richly rounded by the soundtrack style of the keyboards, the vaulted vocal choruses and epic grandeur in the compositions. The solo harsh vocals would be just as well suited to melodic black metal as death, which adds an extra layer of pleasure for me. The guitars, bass and drums, too, are unconstrained by anything formulaic.
The considerable use of keyboards may push Xerath a little too far into prog territory to satisfy the more hardline metalheads completely. My love of prog rock, however, makes Xerath my sort of metal band. There are plenty of dark, almost brutal passages in the music, as well as sections brimming with thrashy groove, but the overall sound of Xerath places great emphasis on melody.
What I’ve written describes all three of Xerath’s albums. Their debut album in 2009 bowled me over. So did their third album, released last year. All of their music is terrific. What swung my pendulum towards their second album is the mighty opening track, “Unite to Defy”. It’s one of my favourite metal songs of this century.
Genre: Beautifully blurred; sometimes progressive death, sometimes orchestral groove, sometimes breakout extreme metal
Release date: 15 September 2014
Label: Candlelight Records
Length: 1 hour 9 minutes
Recommended to: Fans of Erra, Elitist, Beltane, Haunted Shores, Cloudkicker, Volumes, Structures
Mammal’s rating: 5 out of 5
The first two albums by Xerath, titled simply I and II, were sheer brilliance. Matching either of those releases, never mind topping them, would require a Herculean effort. Well, Xerath flexed their mighty thews and ensured that III is every bit as good as their previous work. In some respects I suppose it may be better. I’m not going to say it is, though. That would be like a believer saying God is better than God.
It’s quite a challenge to slot Xerath into any genre. Their musical approach is as wide as the sky and as deep as the place where angler fish have to carry headlamps.
By the way, elephants don’t have four knees. That’s a common misconception among people who are interested in knees and/or elephants. Like other mammals, they have knees on their hind legs, not the front pair.
Dark Metal Cat slept last night with one knee on my ear. When I try to move him he bites me. No elephants have ever done that.
Today’s posts probably illustrate one of the main areas where the hybrid metal-jazz-prog Mammal differs from the the hard-hitting metalhead. My top four songs of 2009 all include distinct orchestral strains and a couple of them venture into the experimental realms.
Another area where we may differ markedly is that I am so easily distracted and veer off the topic. Three bees were trapped inside the window and were too stupid too find their way out. Everything stopped while I eased them gently to freedom.
Posted by Irmelinis
#36 Xerath – Machine Insurgency
From the album ‘II’, released in 2011.
Posted by Reggie
After my theme on Canadian metal bands, I figure it’s time to move over to an area I currently reside in; The United Kingdom. I am sure you are well aware of the UK’s illustrious contributions in metal; therefore, I am not going to rehash some of the legends that have poured out of this region such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, or even Def Leppard. I am going to try to stay away from more well-known artists such as Cradle of Filth and Dragonforce. Before I begin my discussion about what is current on these islands, I will give a brief overview of the UK mainly for my American brothers and sisters of metal.
The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I am stationed in England where the population is about 51 million (2008 estimate). To put that into perspective, England is about the same size as the American State of Indiana. The population of Indiana is about 6.5 million and is the 15th most densely populated American State. England may be small in landmass, but is huge on international influence and culture to include heavy metal. Many consider England to be the birthplace of metal, more specifically, in Birmingham. So here we go. This is what the UK has to offer right here and now.