Album Review: Black Map – …And We Explode

Black_Map_Explode_Cover_1500x1500_rgbLabel:  Minus Head Records

Album:  …And We Explode

Songs:  12

Length:  45 Minutes

Style:  Progressive / Alt / Grunge / Hard Rock

Previous Albums:  This is their debut

Location:  San Francisco, CA, USA

FFO:  Deftones, Foo Fighters, Weezer, Soundgarden, Nirvana, U2 Read the rest of this entry

Mammal’s 21-Year Hit Parade: 2012, #3 – #1

MetalCatA 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.


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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.

Album Review: Xerath – III

Xerath_III_CoverLocation: Basingstoke, Hampshire, England

Genre: Beautifully blurred; sometimes progressive death, sometimes orchestral groove, sometimes breakout extreme metal

Release date: 15 September 2014

Label: Candlelight Records

Tracks: 14

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.

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Mammal’s 21-Year Hit Parade: 2012, #6 – #4

MetalCatBe glad you don’t live on the Planet of the Dolphins or in any other sub-aquatic civilisation. You can’t do chemisty, make fire or smelt metals under water. It would probably be even more difficult in salt water. I should imagine it would also be quite a bugger trying not electrocute yourself with a big amp.

On Water Planet there is no music except for The Whale Glee Club and the Coral Crackers.


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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.

Mammal’s 21-Year Hit Parade: 2012, #9 – #7

MetalCatThe number of genres and sub-genres of modern metal far exceeds the total number of genres that existed in Western music 30 years ago.

There are more bands today playing classic-style heavy metal than there were at the height of heavy metal in the 1980s.

Since the advent of online music streaming and buying, more metal albums are released every month than the total number of albums of all kinds of Western music in 1980.

No one can possibly listen to every new metal album… but, oh man, it’s fun trying!


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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.



Mammal’s 21-Year Hit Parade: 2012, #12 – #10

MetalCatMy #11 song is causing me many headaches and much anxiety. I know the dancing girls in the Leander video were auditioning in the hope of drawing me as their partner in the Metal State Dance Contest. How can I tell them I stopped dancing when my knees stopped working in 1927? I don’t want to shatter their dreams.

Maybe I can dress Dark Metal Cat in a tuxedo and hang a “Mammal” sign around his neck. He has some amazing moves.


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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.