This 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 →
Posted in Best of 2014
Tags: Animals As Leaders, Behemoth, Best Metal of 2014, Black Crown Initiate, Blood & Banjos, Bloodbath, Bloodstone & Diamonds, Centinex, Deathless, Fallujah, Ghost Brigade, Grand Morbid Funeral, Insomnium, IV One With the Storm, Machine Head, Mastodon, Once More 'Round The Sun, Revocation, scar symmetry, SepticFlesh, Shadows of the Dying Sun, The Flesh Prevails, The Satanist, The Wreckage of Stars, Titan
It’s that time of year again for arbitrary lists of really great albums that were released since the last time I did one of these things. Contributing to my absolute burnout of writing about kick ass metal bands, I can not think of another year where there were just so damn many stellar records released. I simply had to say fuck it, step back, and enjoy the great stuff I already had. Sure, I missed out on some great stuff, but on the other hand, all killer no filler. To try to make up for the insane amount of great albums this year I’ve expanded my usual 10 to 15 and will have an honorable mentions post sometime in the near future. I hope you find yourself something cool to listen to with this list or at least nod in agreement with some of my picks. Thanks for reading, sticking with AMSOM, and being awesome and stuff. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
When we started our “best of” lists a while back, we never showed each other what our favorites were before we posted them. It wasn’t intentional nor was it a secret…it just ended up that we didn’t share our lists with anyone until it was time to post. Matt’s list of favorite albums and cover tunes was as much of a surprise to me as I am sure mine was to him. Despite being interested in many of the same bands, our musical tastes vary even though we are both huge fans of metal and everything under that umbrella. For the first time, we have actually picked the same favorite #1 on any of our lists. A few weeks ago, we both noticed that neither one of us posted this special cover that we both know each other likes a lot. Low and behold, it’s because it’s sitting at number one. -Reggie
Our thoughts after the jump.
If there is one band I really can’t stand, it’s The Police (though I will say Stewart Copeland is a sick drummer). Sting’s vocals I find beyond annoying and the amount that they rip-off Bob Marley riffs is staggering, but all to many popular bands with bad vocals and c/p-ed riffs to verbatim exist and they don’t annoy me as much as The Police. What really irks me about the band is underneath all of the crap I can’t stand, exist some wonderfully well written songs that have massive potential if only the obscuring rust were to be scraped away. So in turn, when a band does a cover of a Police song, I usually end up enjoying it immensely, cause ya know, good songwriting and all. Which brings me to my #4 favorite cover song, “Message in a Bottle”.
Robb Flynn and Co. simply just rock this song hard. Doing away with all the fluff, Machine Head bring “Message in a Bottle” to its core and the impact the song has is infinitely more powerful and meaningful. A song about desperation and need of help just doesn’t work with an upbeat light rock feel, but when you metal it up some the whole of the tune hits like a well-directed punch to the gut. I particularly enjoy that dreamy echo on the low-key guitars in the intro and how well the song just explodes into an outburst of emotion when the pre-chorus hits. Some damn fine cover work. Check it out! Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Machine Head Version:
Original Police Version:
This isn’t the first or the last cover from Machine Head on this list of favorite covers. Message in a Bottle was originally recorded by The Police in 1979 and can be found on their album Regatta de Blanc. Though not a huge commercial success in the States, it was a number one hit in the UK. As a child I found it difficult to get into music from The Police, but as an adult I have a much deeper appreciation for them. This song has been covered numerous times by all styles of artists, but the one found on an album called The Burning Red is the one I am talking about today.
Machine Head has developed a knack for making great cover songs. Despite the greatness of this particular cover, it comes off the most criticized album of Machine Head’s career which also happened to be their biggest selling album at the time. Due to a number of factors, including their style shift, Machine Head was released from their label after their next album, Supercharger. Needless to say, they came back from that full-force! Message in a Bottle is a great cover song in which Machine Head certainly injects their spin on a classic song.
Here is the 1999 version found on the album, The Burning Red.
Here is the original recording by The Police.
When I grabbed my copy of Unto the Locust one big surprise other than how absolutely solid the album is was the fact that their choice of cover song bonus tracks included a Rush cover. In case you didn’t know, Rush is one of my Top 1% favorite bands and Machine Head have a pretty damn good track record of making some fine covers, so naturally I was really excited to hear the Machine Head rendition of the kick ass tune “Witch Hunt” off of Rush’s landmark album Moving Pictures. Needless to say I was really impressed with the metal version of the synth heavy song.
Robb Flynn’s vocals work great with the song and somehow make the song sound more ominous and the guitar tone chosen really gives the tune a nice extra metal punch and a cool doom metal feel. I also love how all the synth sections are translated into the 2nd guitar parts and Adam Duce’s awesome work replicating Geddy Lee’s bass lines staying true to the original yet adding a heavy metal attitude to the low-end. Check the songs out and let us know what you thought. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Machine Head Version:
Original Rush Version:
Judas Priest’s 1984 album Defenders of the Faith has some cool songs, to include Eat Me Alive which was on the PMRC’s list of wicked bad (for you) songs. How silly and fearful people were back then of glorious metal! Where is the PMRC today? Bueller…Bueller…Bueller? Though that song isn’t the subject of one of my favorite cover songs, The Sentinel is. You can find it on Machine Head’s awesome album Unto The Locust (2012 deluxe version). Machine Head, in my opinion, has strung together some seriously quality cover songs (hint for another appearance much later on my list).
Those riffs at the beginning of the song belong on a (best of) riff list. Machine Head recorded a spot on cover of the Judas Priest classic.
After looking at my top 10 favorite videos of the year, I can imagine I missed out on so many cool videos. Since seeking out videos on YouTube is pretty much my only avenue for visually stimulating music, I miss out on quite a bit due to lack of time. If the could only be extended a couple more hours…
The other best avenue for checking out cool videos is through you readers, bloggers, and friends on facebook or other blog sites and I thank you for opening my eyes each year to so many awesome bands. Below is a list of videos I thought were cool enough to make my top 10 for 2012. I will keep my commentary short and let the videos do the talking because that’s what they are supposed to do. And if you watch these videos and understand the meaning behind the music, then the video served its purpose. I do have one exception and I will explain that one when I get to it at #5.
As we journey down the path to my number 1 favorite album of all time, we have finally breached the top 20. From here on out, you will likely see more and more classic metal albums appearing on the list except for one or two that are relatively new (to me) compared to the rest. 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 close to the end of the year. Below is my next list of five as we near our way to #1. Enjoy!
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!