Category Archives: Exploring New Things

Every now and then we come across something that is just a bit different.

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.

 

 

Year-end Diversion: Magna Carta – Seasons


The Metal State tyrants occasionally release me into the dungeons to explore the dusty stacks of vinyl. That’s where I rediscovered this 1970 song by Magna Carta, my favourite prog folk group of the time. My favourite non-prog folk group was Simon & Garfunkel.

Magna Carta’s finest song (in my opinion) seems appropriate for this time of year.

 

A gift from Incendia Music: Pay-what-you-want compilation


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13 tracks of the best unsigned and up and coming talent around at the moment in the world of rock and heavy metal. Whether you’re into your rock, prog, tech metal or electronic 80’s progressive metal… there’ll be something here that tickles your fancy! And did we mention….. it’s FREE! Happy Christmas from Incendia Music

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Streaming: Opus Of A Machine – Simulacra


Opus of A Machine started out in 2012, formed by Caligula’s Horse‘s guitarist Zac Greensill and they play a brilliant mix of raw and honest-sounding progressive rock/alternative metal reinforced with powerful clean vocals. Check out their newly released album here:

Facebook      Bandcamp

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Middle Eastern Magic: Orphaned Land – All is One


Orphaned LandOf all the Oriental metal bands from the Middle East, few can rival the international renown and the level of esteem held by Orphaned Land, from Israel. The sheer quality and immense variety of their music has won them fans across many metal genres in numerous nations of the world.

The line-up has changed over the decades that Orphaned Land has been performing and recording. There are and have been Jewish and Arab members of the band. The over-riding theme of their music – peace and unity – is very evident in this song, rated their most popular in a number of polls.

No doubt there are some who will complain, “All is not one, you blasphemer.” Tsk.

Middle Eastern Magic: Al Qaynah – Cihangir


You’ll usually find Al Qaynah’s land of origin listed as Afghanistan. That may be partly so, but Al Qaynah isn’t a band as such. It’s an international, cross-cultural, cross-ethnic and trans-religious project. It doesn’t have a fixed line-up. The contributing musicians send their tracks to be mastered together in Copenhagen.

In a few places you may also read that Al Qaynah plays “terrorist metal”, which is patently ridiculous and exactly the opposite of what Al Qaynah really is. It does aim to project a political message. The essence of that message is that all humans should strive towards understanding and agreement and seek to set aside prejudice and conflict.

Learn more about the project on Al Qaynah’s Facebook page. If you’re a musician and want to contribute some of your work to the project, you’ll read there how to do it.

Right, let’s listen to some peace rally music, 21st century style.

Middle Eastern Magic: Acrassicauda – Garden of Stones


AcrassicaudaA huge amount of metal is fueled by anger at the wrongs in this world and protest against the grim clutches of oppression. Few metal bands, though, have had to endure as much grim reality as Acrassicauda, who had no choice but to flee from the darkness in their tormented home city of Baghdad. Leaving so much that they held dear behind them in Iraq, the band followed the tortuous route of the exile before finally finding a safe haven in New York.

Any form of metal has to hide in the shadows in Iraq. Extremists who continue to torture the country branded Acrassicauda as satanists. That condemnation carries an automatic death sentence. The band’s underground rehearsal room was bombed. The band began to receive death threats. Some of their fans were murdered merely for listening to metal.

The guys who make up the band – Faisal Muatafa (vocals), Marwan Hussien (drums), Firas Abdul Razaq (bass) and Moe Al Ansari (guitar) – can never return to the land of their birth. Too many evil people would hunt them down and slaughter them if they did. It’s quite something to risk your life for your art. As the band say on their Facebook page, “Nobody was expecting that in Iraq heavy metal could exist. We started and we’re not gonna stop.”

Their music is truly Arabic heavy metal played from the depths of their hearts.

 

 

Middle Eastern Magic: Al-Namrood – Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq


Al-Namrood, from Saudi Arabia, aren’t exactly newcomers. They released their first EP in 2008 and since then they’ve released four albums and another EP. I dare say their next album will have to be super-extraordinary to top their 2014 release, “Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq”. Never mind the translation, you don’t need it to appreciate to the depth and darkness of their music. It’s, er, diabolical.

The band draws its name and the themes for its songs from a sinister character in ancient Arabian history, King Namrood. He ruled with an iron fist drenched in megalitres of blood. While slaughtering everyone and everything that annoyed him, he declared: “I am the god of all creation.” In short, he wasn’t a very pleasant chap. Whatever god he imagined himself to be was anything but benelovent. He was what a lot of modern politicians would probably love to be if they were unrestrained.

The band call their music Arabian Occult Metal. They call their Facebook page their “Center of Oppression Control”. If you want to experience the tingling exhilaration of the blackness, give these guys a spin.

Here’s a merry melody, the title track from their 2014 album. If it summons demons, then Al-Namrood’s job is done.

 

Middle Eastern Magic: Acyl – The Birth of an Idea


AcylThe word “acyl” is Arabic for “genuine, authentic”. The band took that name to mirror their dedication to a concept of ethnic experimental metal that started forming in 2006.  To date they’ve recorded one EP, “The Angel’s Sin” (2010) and a truly remarkable album, “Algebra” (2011). They don’t churn out songs. They won’t record anything until they are 100% satisfied that the song is 100% right.

The result is a small but extraordinary and beautiful volume of work. It combines Arabic musical structures and instruments extensively with Western rock and metal. It is an outstanding salute to the ancient Berber culture of the Algerian Sahara.

The band is on Facebook and well worth visiting. Their music is so rich and varied that I’m posting two songs to give you a better glimpse of their scope and variety.

 

Middle Eastern Magic: Sand Aura – The Sand Aura


For me, Sand Aura puts in all the elements that I love most in prog metal – fire, passion, extraordinary musical variety, excellent and deep clean and dark vocals, changes of tempo, almost operatic passages in counterpoint to powerful driving melodies, and that delicious flavour of Middle Eastern spice. Listening to an album by this band is good excercise for the skin, too – all those goosebumps increase its flexibility.

The band is from Egypt. I love them for more than their fantastic music. They are admirable musical ambassadors. In describing the concept behind their music, they say: “We are all humans, and [we believe in] the unification of all cultures, religions and historical backgrounds of the new age’s concept.”

You’ll find Sand Aura on Facebook. Get to know them better. They’re more than worth it. They may be at the other end of my continent but they make me extra-proud to be African.