A Peculiar Diversion: Heino – Schwarz Blüht der Enzian

Worst-Album-Covers-HeinoSome months ago I took a poll among my Facebook friends to decide what was the worst album cover ever produced. This one for an album by Heino was the clear winner – or should that be the worst loser?

Heino was a very young German balladeer when his “Liebe Mutter” was released. That would have been about 1743 BC.

Since then he’s been through a few transformations, always carried forward by his big, rich voice. His most recent album, released this year, is – amazingly – folk metal.

I think it’s terrific. If I’d known about it earlier, it would have been my Album of the Year… OK, so that’s a mild exaggeration, but only in the sense that it’s a complete lie. Even so, I think this is rather jolly. Astound your friends by playing it for them and doing some moshing.


Mik’s Top 16 Albums of 2014 (Part 1)


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Mammal’s Best of 2014: Day 10


I thought I might surprise myself with my selection of metal albums of the year, and I certainly did. My jazz and prog rock lists are much as I expected them to be; not so my metal list. This may be the first year this century that there’s no symphonic metal among my favourite albums. It may also be my first list this century that isn’t dominated by prog metal. Death seems to be my flavour of the year, with black metal also coming to the fore.

Before I plonk my top albums onto the page, I must make two other Best Of awards for 2014.

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Mammal’s Best of 2014: Day 9


There’s a healthy, deathly flavour to my penultimate metal favourites of 2014. Who would have thought death could bring such joy to anyone? My prog and jazz runners-up are both in conceptual counterpoint to the metal. I reckon that’s also healthy.

Have I mentioned how health-conscious I am? I exercise as little as possible. In that way I spare myself from exposure to injury or an accelerated pulse rate. Your heart can beat only so many times before it wears out, you know.


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Mik’s Favourite Music Videos 2014

Nader Sadek – Re:Mechanic

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Mammal’s Best of 2014: Day 8


As I’ve mentioned to the other Metal State writers, I’m already planning a short article for the end of January or thereabouts on Overlooked Gems of 2014. Although I’m happy with my lists so far, I’ve seen other lists that include albums I want to know better. In addition, there have been a couple of solid releases in the short time since I started posting my Best Of.

When it comes to my Very Best Of, however – including today’s posts – I wouldn’t change or add anything. I’ve done enough of that already while I was sorting out my favourites.


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Mammal’s Best of 2014: Day 7


It’s been quite fascinating to see the picks of 2014 by two colleagues at Metal State, first RiffRaff (Matt), then WarpRider (Reggie). We didn’t consult each other about our lists. We did expect that we’d each by touched more deeply than the others by certain types of metal. When Irmelinis (Mik the SuperSwede) posts her selection, I’ve no doubt her list will be as different as the lists posted by us blokes/guys/fellows/chaps/dudes.

This makes me (ChristopherMammal, aka Old Fart) feel very warm inside. When I was a young man, you either liked metal or you didn’t. There were only two types to choose from initially, heavy metal or doom metal, and they were pretty much the same thing anyway back then. Now there are as many genres and sub-genres of metal as there are member states of the United Nations. Long may the Metal Universe continue to expand.

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Reggie’s Top 15 Albums of 2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklersThis year I had the pleasure of reviewing over 150 albums; some on my own, but most with my Metal State partners on our RoundTable review forum.  Despite being a great year in metal I only awarded five albums a best 5 out of 5 rating; four of them made my Top 15.  Those four bands are Revocation, Behemoth, Arch Enemy, Ghost Brigade, and Insomnium.  Arch Enemy did not make my list.  I guess you could say it’s one of those reviews I wish I could go back and change…same thing I said about Khaos Legions.  Arch Enemy has that kind of effect on me; come on strong and then fizzle a little bit.  I still like the album a lot and think it’s better than their last two albums.  All things considered in metal they didn’t make my Top 15 this year.

My average score for 2014 was a 3.7; perhaps a little on the high side on a 5-point scale, but it is worth mentioning that I gave up reviewing albums I seriously do not like.  For me it became a waste of time and energy talking about something I truly found dissatisfying.  My lowest rating, a 1.5, went to four bands; Ceremonial, Dodsferd, Heresiarch, and Shroud of the Heretic.  Sorry guys, your music is probably appreciated in some metal circles just not mine.

Over the last two years, a progressive metal/rock band topped my end-of-year list.  Sleepers Awake last year and Rush the year before that.  Machine Head made my #1 back in 2011 and are on my list this year, but not at #1.  Another thing worth noting is that seven bands on my list this year I heard for the first time ever.   They will have a * symbol next to their band name and album.  Another band that made my list this year was part of an article I wrote some years back called “Bands I Should Like, But Do Not.”  Click here to see the article and the band I have since grown a fondness for.  Lastly, four bands on my list this year are repeat offenders since I started doing lists in 2011.  You already know about Machine Head.  Who are the other three?  One of them is my #1 album.

2014 was a great year in metal in my humble opinion.  There seemed to be way too many releases to keep up with even for the four of us.  Based on what we experienced this year I think you will see a lesser amount of reviews on Metal State in 2015 (at least from me) and hopefully more original content and discussion pieces.  Enough chatter; here is my best in metal for 2015. Enjoy!

15.  Scar Symmetry – The Singularity (Phase I – Neohumanity)* (favorite song; Neohuman)


 Reading up on the history of the band a little, I can see why long-time fans are at odds with the latest release from Scar Symmetry.  I, however, am a first time listener and coming in from the outside, I find this odd mix of extreme styles interesting.  I mean, it’s like Def Leppard meets death metal.  It’s quirky and melodic and at other times so damn heavy. Other times it’s a little of both.  I am cool with concept ideas for an album or a plan that is going to span multiple albums, but that has nothing to do with why the album is on my list.  It’s different, than most things you hear out there.  And, for that fresh appeal to my senses it makes my list.  Read the rest of this entry

Mammal’s Best of 2014: Day 6


It was a mistake for me to expect it would be easier to rank the albums in the top half of my selection because I play them more often. If anything it was more challenging than extracting a Top 30 from all the excellent releases of 2014, and that was just in the metal section. The task was no easier when it came to choosing my top prog and jazz.

I know this sounds like a dreadful cliché, but all the albums in my three lists are winners. First, however…

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Seasonal Diversion: The Who – Christmas

It’s still the weekend in some places. I’m still where I was yesterday, in the Metal State vaults where we store ancient vinyl albums. Yesterday I went back to 1970. Today I’ve travelled even farther back, to my #1 album of 1969.

When most people ponder on who their favourite vocalists might be, they don’t usually consider Roger Daltrey of The Who because they hadn’t been born yet when “Pinball Wizard” was released. To us wizened and wise ones, Daltrey was one of the best. The Who was one of the best bands. Mind you, back then there were only about a dozen really superb bands.

The song is about the deaf, dumb and blind kid who somehow became a pinball wizard, and that was without any help from Hogwarts.