Blog Archives

RoundTable Roundup – Metal State’s Top 15 of 2014!


tech-trends-2014By now you may have seen our individual end-of-year best albums.  If not, our main page is littered with individual lists of what rocked our worlds this year.  Please, check it out.  For those who stopped by, you probably noticed that we at Metal State have varied taste in metal.  Only a few albums made it across multiple annual lists.  Having said that, another list is about to get thrown into the mix; a first for this website.

Throughout the year we put together collective reviews we coined as “roundtable” reviews.  With all four reviewers providing comments on these reviews, we present to you our Top 15, strictly by the numbers.  It is worth noting that some of our roundtable reviews sometimes only include three of four reviewers.  To be fair, we left those albums off this list.  This Top 15 reflects only those albums where all of us could provide comments.  Read the rest of this entry

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)

Scar-Symmetry-The-Singularity-Phase-I-–-Neohumanity

 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

Album Review: Servers – Leave With Us


album

“Your only chance to survive, is to leave with us…”

Release date: 24th of February on Undergroove Records

Length: 45 minutes of  heavy earworms

Genre:  Feel-good, sludgy rock

Previous releases: This is their first album, and what a fine debut it is!

Recommended for fans of:  Baroness, Queens Of The Stone Age, Mastodon, Foo Fighters, The Doors Read the rest of this entry

Concert Review: Sonisphere Milan (Rho Fiera) June 8th, 2013 (Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Mastodon, Ghost)


sonisphere2013v2_lr1Between countless bits of memorabilia, various t-shirts, an extensive Iron Maiden discography, and a tattoo of Eddie the Head taking up half of my back it’s quite obvious that I am quite the die-hard Iron Maiden fan.  So the second I heard that Bruce, Steve, Adrian, Nicko, Dave, Janick, and Eddie were going to be making a stop in Milan to headline the Sonisphere festival it was an immediate ticket purchase, especially after a 6 year dry spell where I haven’t seen my all time favorite band live.  At first the only band that was announced was Iron Maiden, and even if Justin Beeber and The Spice Girls were also playing I would have dropped the €60 regardless, I was still curious to which other bands would be on the bill.  Lucky for me the ridiculously Satanic doomsters Ghost were announced as well as a band that truly lives up to their name, Mastodon.  Also on the bill was Megadeth and a couple of other bands whose names escape me and were on the stage too early for me to see.  With such a damn fine line-up and my expectation blasting through the roof did the show live up?  Long story short, Hell Fuck Yeah!!!

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Tales From Bandcamp: Heart of Oak by Anciients


a1928185160_10Somewhere between Opeth and Mastodon lies Anciients.  Wielding the sword of prog metal coated in moody atmospheres and honed with memorable riffing and catchy melodies Heart of Oak slays even the weariest of prog metal fans.  Stellar musicianship that is very technical but never roams into the superfluous realms and a dearth of variety and pacing make this album even more of an engaging listen.  While I have found myself becoming rather disappointed in new prog metal bands the past couple years or so and many new bands that tag themselves with the genre and produce nothing but snooze-fests, Heart of Oak is such a breath of fresh air.  Nothing comes off feeling contrived or forced but wholly organic and passion fueled.  An excellent debut and I greatly look forward what this Canadian band can do in the future.  Give the album a listen and share your thoughts.  If you dig it buy yourself a copy and tell your metal loving brethren about them.  Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!

Band Links: Bandcamp Facebook Official Site

The Power of the Riff Compels Me Pt. I


rhps-crh03-riffrafftimewarplThe riff, a melodic phrase, often constantly repeated, forming an accompaniment or part of an accompaniment for a soloist.  In metal, we are not lacking in the heavy use of them.  In fact the large majority of all metal and hard rock revolves around the riff.  The riff is what hooks you into a song, it’s what drives to keep you engaged, it’s what determines the phrasing of a good solo or breakdown.  So, needlessly saying, a fine riff will often lead to a great song.  Some bands excel at creating bold and brazen riffs (eg. doom metal, death metal, groove metal) and others may use a more mellow, low-key riff to build atmospheres for the other instruments to build a dynamic off of (eg. black metal, post-metal).   But whatever the approach is, the power of the riff compels us!

Some riffs have gone down in metal history as the greatest groups of music ever created.  Upon hearing the first few notes of the riff, you can identify the song in no time flat and chances are that the riff has spent extended time stuck in your brain more than once.  Here’s a list of what I consider the best riffs of heavy metal.  To show fairness to the newer bands out there, they’ll get inclusions also, so if you see a track you don’t know here, give it a listen, I guarantee there will be a damn sick riff contained within.  But on the flipside, I also feel that the real signifier of a solid and memorable riff is the test of time.  If over 20 years after hearing it the effect it has on me is still the same and my enjoyment of the song is still immense, then that sir, is a f’n killer riff.  To not turn this into a list of best Black Sabbath, Pantera, or ‘Tallica riffs, I’m limiting myself to one song per band, so if you dig a riff more than one not included in the list, make sure to give it a shout out in the comments.  And also, this is just scratching the surface of the best riffs in metal/hard rock, so be prepared for part deuce. Enjoy!!  Peace Love and Metal!!

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Matt’s Top 100 Favorite Albums of All Time: #45-#41


Over on my favorite forum for rambling about metal, The History of Metal (it’s an open Facebook forum, so anyone, meaning you, can join and flap your jaw about metal with a wide variety of metalheads from all over the world), the admin made a challenge to all the members to create their top 100 albums of all time. Loving making lists I’m all on this. Between the ~1500 albums I have there is a lot to filter through and this has turned into quite a daunting, yet fun, challenge. This list will represent where I am with my favorite albums right now, if I were to do this last year or next year, while being similar, I’m sure there would be lots of differences. My only self-imposed limitation on this is I’m confining each band 3 albums in the list to avoid entire, very large, discographies over saturating it. Every 5 days or so I’ll make a post with the next 5 entries into the list. Fellow bloggers, I extend this challenge to you (and be sure to let me know where and when you’ll be posting it, I’d love to read it), and for readers without a blog join up with THOM and post yours there! Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!

#45 Warp Riders by The Sword

The Sword just keep getting better and better with each album as they constantly refine their style of sludgy stoner metal. For 2010’s concept album Warp Riders they took a step outside of the frozen tundra of Norse lore and sounds and went full on sci-fi and gravitated towards a more rock and roll feel. Everything about this record is near perfect, fat riffs, groovy rhythms, catchy lyrics, and proggy space opera songs. If their previous albums were their Lord of the Rings, Warp Riders is their Star Wars. When I listen to this album I want to jump into my space Winnebago, kick it into ludicrous speed, and go plaid as I fly around outer space exploring uncharted planets and nebulae (making sure to make a special stop at the Mos Eisley Cantina to check out that in-house band I’ve been hearing so much about). With the track record The Sword has been following ever since their debut, it’s no wonder I’m so hyped for their upcoming record.

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Matt’s Top 100 Favorite Albums of All Time: #90-#86


Over on my favorite forum for rambling about metal, The History of Metal (it’s an open Facebook forum, so anyone, meaning you, can join and flap your jaw about metal with a wide variety of metalheads from all over the world), the admin made a challenge to all the members to create their top 100 albums of all time.  Loving making lists I’m all on this.  Between the ~1500 albums I have there is a lot to filter through and this has turned into quite a daunting, yet fun, challenge.  This list will represent where I am with my favorite albums right now, if I were to do this last year or next year, while being similar, I’m sure there would be lots of differences.  My only self-imposed limitation on this is I’m confining each band 3 albums in the list to avoid entire, very large, discographies over saturating it.  Every 5 days or so I’ll make a post with the next 5 entries into the list.  Fellow bloggers, I extend this challenge to you (and be sure to let me know where and when you’ll be posting it, I’d love to read it), and for readers without a blog join up with THOM and post yours there!  Enjoy!!!  Peace Love and Metal!!!

#90 Leviathan by Mastodon

I think I may have permanently injured my neck from the rate of headbanging I did when I first heard “Blood and Thunder”. That tune is the very essence of metal. Oh, and the rest of the album is about Herman Melville’s Moby Dick you say, F’ yeah! Boy am I happy I paid attention to that one in school. This album is so heavy it should come with a ‘lift with caution’ warning label. If you’ve never checked out Mastodon before this is a good starting point. It has the brutality of their earlier works and the beginnings of the prog side the band would later explore.

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Monday Metal Madness – Grammy Awards


Last week’s “To The Oscars” poll was won by Alternate Reality for their video The King That Never Was.  Great job and thank you for taking the time to vote.  They pulled in 83% of the votes.

Grammy Season is coming. Whether you like the biased (did I just say that?) award shows or not, it’s nice to see at least some metal getting recognition they deserve. A Metal State of Mind is generally concerned with the category for Best Hardrock/Metal Performance although we wish the best of luck to all nominees in their respective categories.

This poll is based on the bands nominated for their work in 2011. You can catch the Grammy’s this year on 12 Feb 2012.  Of the following, who do you think SHOULD win Best Hardrock/Metal Performance? Try not to go from the heart here, but if that’s the case, it’s a free country…vote how you please. Enjoy!

In other Grammy news, some rock/metal artists were nominated for the following categories (and we wish them luck):

Best Surround Sound album – Steven Wilson for Grace for Drowning

Best Recording Package – Chickenfoot for Chickenfoot III

Best Rock Album – Foo Fighters for Wasting Light

Best Rock Song – Foo Fighters for Walk

Best Rock Performance – Foo fighters for Walk

I have a feeling Foo Fighters is going to walk away with at least one award. Good luck to them.

Reggie’s (Plantera7’s) Top 5 Videos of 2011


Videos are a great marketing tool; a way for people to see the band.  It’s hard to catch good metal on TV these days, so we tend to rely on places like YouTube to see our favorite band videos or live footage of them playing.  Personally, it has done wonders for broadening my musical horizons.  Without videos, I probably wouldn’t have found some of the music I enjoy today.

For the most part, videos are kind of cheesy.  They are often silly and do not serve the song any justice.  That’s fine, I still get to see the band and form some kind of opinion.  Other times, videos are very well done and honor the intent of the song for which the video was created.  Below are my 5 music video favorites of 2011 in no particular order.  Unlike “Best Video Countdown” you might have seen on MTV and VH1, these are my favorite videos because they are good videos, not a plug for a good song.

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