My heartiest congratulations go to the winners in all of my categories. So does my deep gratitude to all of the finalists and winners for making such great albums in an excellent year for all the types of modern music I love. To you good folks who’ve been following my hit parades, I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of your picks included in my lists, and I hope you also found something new to explore.
Keep on rawkin’.
Posted in Best of 2015
Tags: Alkaloid, atmospheric black metal, Big Big Train, Cassandra Wilson, Cattle Decapitation, Classic Jazz, Coming Forth by Day, death grind, Epistemology, Experimental Metal, Indie / garage rock, Keep of Kalessin, Macrocosm Microcosm, Mammal's Best of 2015 – The Winners, Mother of Illusion, PAUW, progressive death metal, Psychedelic Rock, Subterranean Masquerade, The Anthropocene Extinction, The Great Bazaar, The Malkuth Grimoire, The Pulse of Mourning, The Trousers, Thrash Black Metal, Thurisaz, Wassail
This was where the really tough part began. It was difficult enough to narrow my selections down to 75 metal albums. Making a final list of my Top 50 was more challenging still. Choosing my favourites from those 50 for my Top 20 sometimes felt impossible. In some ways it still does.
The challenge was as great in my rankings of the other genres in my hit parades.
My top few on every list shouted out to me clearly that they were extra-special. For the others in my top rankings, the order would quite likely change if I were to re-rank them. Enjoyment of music can change very subtly under the tiniest of emotional or other influences.
I shan’t even try to make a combined top list from all of my preferences in different genres.
Posted in Best of 2015
Tags: Alternative Rock, Atrorum, avant-garde black metal, beast, Casket Soil, Ei Valo Minua Seuraa, Folk industrial metal, Folk Pagan Metal, Freitag Der 13., Fusion jazz, In The Gardens Of Vermin, Khatsaturjan, Machine & Man, Mammal's Best of 2015 – Part 7/10, melodic death metal, Nightland, Nik Turner, Obsession, Polyester Zeal, progressive death metal, Psychedelic space rock, Red Sun Rising, Snarky Puppy & Metropole Orkest, Space Fusion Odyssey, Structurae, Sylva, symphonic progressive rock, Tanzwut, Vorna
I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m keeping my deadly, home-made crossbow. But enough of that, let’s focus on more lethal stuff than Mediaeval weapons. May I make so bold as to say there are some absolute killer albums in my selections today?
Why did I rank my top albums in numerical order of preference? Every time I listen to anything from any of them, I wonder if I shouldn’t merely have listed them alphabetical order. It’s bloody marvelous to have so much good stuff to blast the wax out of my ears and other nearby orifices.
Posted in Best of 2015
Tags: Blackened Experimental Death Metal, Chronicles of the Immortals - Netherworld II, Consequences, Hyaena, Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches, Mammal's Best of 2015 - Part 2/10, Occult Experimental Metal, progressive death metal, Progressive Metal, Sadist, Salem’s Wounds, Searching for Light, Serial Hawk, Sludge Doom Metal, The Oath, Vanden Plas
In our quest to keep youse guys informed about the best heavy metal has to offer and to stroke our own egos, we have engaged in a no-holds-barred battle royale to decide on the top ten albums of five-year periods flowing backwards from modern times to the years when stock in hairspray and cocaine went hand in hand (i.e. the 80s). Two or three times a week we will reveal a collective pick from the individual nominations, culminating in the best record of each block. Some picks will be obvious, some surprises, all the best the genre has to offer. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Progressive Death Metal (UK, 2011)
Nominated by ChristopherMammal
Xerath like to describe their music as cinematic. It matches that description by combining progressive death with extremely melodic metal, richly rounded by the soundtrack style of the keyboards, the vaulted vocal choruses and epic grandeur in the compositions. The solo harsh vocals would be just as well suited to melodic black metal as death, which adds an extra layer of pleasure for me. The guitars, bass and drums, too, are unconstrained by anything formulaic.
The considerable use of keyboards may push Xerath a little too far into prog territory to satisfy the more hardline metalheads completely. My love of prog rock, however, makes Xerath my sort of metal band. There are plenty of dark, almost brutal passages in the music, as well as sections brimming with thrashy groove, but the overall sound of Xerath places great emphasis on melody.
What I’ve written describes all three of Xerath’s albums. Their debut album in 2009 bowled me over. So did their third album, released last year. All of their music is terrific. What swung my pendulum towards their second album is the mighty opening track, “Unite to Defy”. It’s one of my favourite metal songs of this century.
Posted by Irmelinis
Release Date: September 30th, 2014 on eOne Entertainment
Length: 53 minutes
Genre: Pushing limits in Progressive death metal
Location: Pennsylvania, US
Previous releases: Song of The Crippled Bull EP 2013
Recommended for fans of: Early Opeth, The Contortionist, Fallujah, Fleshgod Apocalypse
“…And we stand still, nothing worth changing, no cause to seek within our minds. There will never be another dawn here, a time where I’d feel, a time for taking and the path to freedom passed us by. Watch the waves and wither away here.”
Since this is the last week of my year-by-year hit parades, I’m overindulging myself completely by posting my top 25 songs of last year. This’ll be good practice for making my list of my top albums of 2014.
Next week I shall reveal the true identity of Dark Metal Cat unless he gets me first with his very big paws and his very, very sharp claws.
Genre: Beautifully blurred; sometimes progressive death, sometimes orchestral groove, sometimes breakout extreme metal
Release date: 15 September 2014
Label: Candlelight Records
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.
By the way, elephants don’t have four knees. That’s a common misconception among people who are interested in knees and/or elephants. Like other mammals, they have knees on their hind legs, not the front pair.
Dark Metal Cat slept last night with one knee on my ear. When I try to move him he bites me. No elephants have ever done that.
Yet again today I encountered some of the weird prejudices that prevail in the world of popular music, as in FM radio and the current Top 20 Best-Marketed Hits of the Week.
The young fellow I spoke to in a store was surprised that someone of my age, which is 64, would listen to modern music at all [Prejudice 1]. He was even more surprised that I would listen to something as weird as metal [Prejudice 2]. When I mentioned that I would be posting some of my favourite music from Sweden, Belgium and New Zealand, he exclaimed: “Oh, well, I wouldn’t listen to it anyway. I don’t listen to anything unless it’s from England or America because I can’t understand the words [Prejudice 3].”
I could add [Ignorance 1] but maybe they don’t speak English in New Zealand. Isn’t it a region in Mongolia?
Today’s posts probably illustrate one of the main areas where the hybrid metal-jazz-prog Mammal differs from the the hard-hitting metalhead. My top four songs of 2009 all include distinct orchestral strains and a couple of them venture into the experimental realms.
Another area where we may differ markedly is that I am so easily distracted and veer off the topic. Three bees were trapped inside the window and were too stupid too find their way out. Everything stopped while I eased them gently to freedom.