The Moustached Man’s Marvellous Mix of Metal Magic 2014

Yeah, I know what you are all thinking- Another list of stuff? Groan grumble groan. And yes that maybe true but this is new territory for me and I promise i wont keep you long, I’LL KEEP YOU FOREVER!

Ok, Slayer reference aside

I have listened to some cracking Metal this year and have recommended the odd one here and there to whomever wants some recommendations. So I thought i would do my top five  albums from 2014 that at present I cant live without

These are in no particular order as I really couldnt decide what I liked more as they are quite different even in subtle ways. This is the first time Ive done anything on my blog about Metal

Number #5: Archspire – The Lucid Collective 

Archspire are from Canada and i totally discovered them by accident and Im so glad that I did. This album has everything I could ever want. Musically its very technical, which is awesome but the songs are more than just clever arrangements and fantastic musicianship. Its like getting punched by the Hulk and then jumped on by Iron Man in the Hulkbuster whilst trying to keep your jaw off the floor.

Number #4: Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails 

Fallujah are from San Francisco and like Archspire I accidentally discovered them. This album blew me away and since then I have looked at their back catalogue which is just as amazing. Again this on the technical side of Metal, but with a real progressive feel that creates a rather stunning atmospherical recording. Some of the breakdowns will give you goosebumps and the riffs are just an endless onslaught of brilliance. The song in the link was my standout track, the harmonisation of the instruments is just spine tingling. Also the covers of their albums are pretty awesome too.

Number #3: Ne Oblivscaris – Citadel

This is the second album by the Australian, extreme progressive metal outift. And if you thought Fallujah was atmospheric then this album takes all that atmosphere and enhances it. Again this band is another example of fantastic musicianship, and the violin played by Tim Charles, (who also does the bands most lovely clean vocals) adds a real special layer of beauty to this wonderful album. I could talk about this incredibly melodic album for ages as it definitely one that needs to be added to your album collection, and you can slap whatever label you like on it but this is in a class of its own.

Number #2: Job For A Cowboy – Sun Eater

This is an interesting one. This is the Arizona metallers fourth album and the first one that I actually liked. With their previous albums I could never connect with it, and I didnt bother with them until this little monster. It has a rawness that the other JfAC albums dont have. The riffs are really crushing and the vocals are much improved from the bands previous efforts but this is a good thing as it is an example of a band that has evolved for the better, in my humble opinion, and It does make me want to give their previous albums another listen. Also the mix of Sun Eater is just lovely.

Number #1: Animals as Leaders – The Joy of Motion 

I adore this band and have always enjoyed their musical marvellousness and lovely time changes. For a three piece band they have such a powerful sound and probably some of the best playing I have heard. The bands lineup comprises of two guitarists (Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes) who play eight string guitars and a very talented drummer (Matt Garstka.) And their intsrumental mastery crosses the genre labels in a very cosmic fashion. Although I loved Weightless (2011) this album is something else and more.

So there we are my dear friends, my top five. All these albums are available now so treat yourself with a bit of Metal. After all, what is Christmas without it,  just ask Christopher Lee. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVzOve8T39w

Mage’s Blood by David Hair (Moontide Quartet book one): Review

I do like a nice intricately woven tome now and again. I had heard a lot about this series from Steph (Aka Mogsy) who is one of the reviewers from the wonderful Bibliosanctum .

So when I finished it, my wife asks me if I had enjoyed it? My reply was full of mumbles until i finally said, “I didnt hate it.”

It was only when I let the contents of the story swim around my mind, thinking more on its finer points, did i decide that actually I had just read something that was pretty bloody special. And I stand by this.

So the basis of the story is the lands of Antiopia and Yuros are separated by what appears to be a rather large ocean. Something pretty cool happens each Moontide when the Leviathan bridge rises from the depths to connect to both of these places for trade etc. But  as with all things there are those that are not very happy and the bridge has been used for conquest. So tensions are slightly at breaking point as another Moontide is around the corner. War is at hand.

Amongst all this the story focuses on several different characters and their own trials and tribulations on the build up to Moontide. Antonin Meiros, who is a very old mage is looking for a wife, so he travels to Lakh in Antiopia where we meet his wife-to-be, Ramita but my dear friends, she is already betrothed to Kazim. And then in the North the reader meets Elena Anborn who is the bodyguard of a royal family but yet much more than just a bodyguard. And then we meet Alaron Mercer who is about to take his final exams to lawfully become a Mage in Noros. Alaron is Elena Anborn’s nephew (its worth mentioning that Alaron’s mother and Elena’s sister has a pretty cool name … Tesla. Just thought I would mention that.) And finally one of the stories main antagonists is Gurvon Gyle who seems to be in control of a lot of things and makes life very difficult for Elena and the Javon  royal family, which in turn effects everything else.

This book has been likened to A Game Of Thrones and even though I can see that link I think this is a book that deserves to be read without any preconceived ideas of GoT. As I have mentioned everything is connected and even with things that dont seem to be integral to the storys’ plot, it turns out they very much are. So In this I really applaud the attention to detail that the author has shown. I felt at times this book had elements of grimdark but it was done in a way of emphasis and not in a gratuitous manner, also, I give this book the award for “Sex-scene-that-will-put-you-off-your-dinner.”

The ending of this novel is a proper “Wow!” moment, and rather unforgettable. It really left things nicely for The Scarlet Tides to carry on with.  A smooth but powerful ending.

So if someone were to ask me if I enjoyed Mages Blood now? I would tell them that I certainly did enjoy it and would recommend it to anyone who loves Fantasy. And thats my truth.

You can find out more about the author here

Mages Blood is available now from Jo Fletcher Books 28118-mage27sblood

The Fantasy Super Wonder Group!

Now as most of you know, I do like music a bit … Ok, a lot! i listen to a lot of genres but Im mostly (and always have) been into Metal and most of its many, many different sub-genres. Be it Death, Black, Power, Tech Death, Prog, well you get the picture. Metal aside for the moment, I do listen to listen to a lot of other things. For those of you that know me, you will know that I am a massive fan of Rush, Toto, Steely Dan, Yes, King Crimson, Camel etc. I could go on and on and on. But I will leave that for another time.

So, with me and my tangent-like mind, I thought about this- What if the some characters from many Fantasy books came together and formed a band? Ok, so some of the characters that i have chosen dont actually play any instruments but lets just say that they do and it just was never mentioned or they were practicing their instrument of choice between the pages. STAY WITH ME PEOPLE! Ahem … Ok, heres what I came up with.

Name of Character – The Marquis de Carabas

Book – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Instrument – Vocals 

When I was reading this book, the Marquis reminded me of a vocalist I used to play music with. very self confident and arrogant, and a bit of a dandy. This does mean that his stage wear would be rather flamboyant, and Im sure he would give the audience a good show. As far as his vocal style goes, I imagine him to sound a little like Geoff Tate from the band Queensrÿche with a little bit of Jim Morrison from The Doors.

Neverwhere_PaperbackHeadline_1185845982

Name of Character – Kvothe

Book – Kingkiller Chronicle series (The Name of The Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear.) By Pat Rothfuss

Instrument – Guitar (7 string)

But Kvothe plays a lute! I hear you cry. Yes, I know he plays a lute but in this band I thought he could play a guitar, and seven string no less. Im sure he could handle it. Yes it might seem like an obvious choice to have Kvothe in this band but personally with a musician as talented as Temerant’s own Hendrix of the lute, It would be silly not to have his string wizardry. In the Pat Rothfuss’ Kvothe is a dedicated musician and knows a wide range of songs. I decided to give him a seven string as I reckon he could handle it. As far as style goes I see Kvothe as a sort of cross between Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Blackmore’s night, with a little bit of virtuosity in the style of neo-classical mega shredder, Yngwie Malmsteen.

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Name of Character – Vin Venture

Book – The Mistborn trilogy (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages.) by Brandon Sanderson

Instrument – Drums

Lets face it doing what Vin does being an Allomancer (magic through using certain types of metals when swallowed) there is something very rhythmic about the way she fights and leaps into action. So she would be a perfect drummer and with her throwing coins about the place imagine the speeds and drum fills she could do, she wouldnt even need sticks! and belonged to Kelsier’s crew she already has experience of working within a group albeit a very different type of group. I would imagine Vin playing drums in the style of say Phil Collins and his complex drum patterns from the Genesis album Selling England By the Pound, and perhaps a little Stewart Copeland from The Police with those lovely cymbal and Hi-Hat flourishes, and perhaps a touch of Neil Peart from Rush. final-empire

Name of character – Wydrin the Copper Cat of Crosshaven

Book – The Copper Promise by Jennifer Williams

Instrument – Bass

Well, there were other candidates for the bassist of this little group but my mind kept returning to the Copper Cat, the adventurer with her twin blades and one particular scene involving some rather flashy eye wear in The Copper Promise that probably makes her one of the grooviest characters ever Bass players are groovy … Im not just saying that because I am one but being a bassist is all about groove and Wydrin more than qualifies for this. Her playing style would be a cross between Doug Wimbish from Living Colour, and Martín Mendez from Opeth, a lovely mixture of funk slap style with some really rocking grooves interwoven with some lovely bass fills, as well as a lovely smoothness to her playng style and tone. posting-cover.jpg So what we have here is a band that totally defies the bounds of musical genre and would create a kind of music that would be all kinds of cosmic. Something that incoporates folk metal with lashings of prog rock, and reggae beats with a rather funky groove and soaring, gritty and yet velvet vocals. And to our next question, what does one call such a group of chart smashers? I shall leave that to you dear readers