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Review Etiquette and Rationale

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Topic: Review Etiquette and Rationale
Posted By: Diogenes
Subject: Review Etiquette and Rationale
Date Posted: 28 May 2012 at 12:39pm
This may turn into more of a survey than a blog, but...

Here at MMA, reviews are strongly encouraged.  There are guidelines, but generally the rules and regulations for reviews are more lenient than those of other websites, and everyone with an opinion is allowed to share it.  This is great for a general audience and it's very user-friendly, but letting everyone do their own thing will inevitably raise questions about one's review process, writing style, and so on.  Basically, it's tough not making comparisons and assumptions when you see a 100-word review and then a 1000-word review of the same album; however, I think it's safe to say we all have our own rhyme and reason for writing the way we do, and I think it would be cool to share some of it, both to get different perspectives and to get to know each other a little better.

So I ask you: what's your reviewing style and process?  What's your logic behind writing reviews the way you do?

Me, I love writing.  I always have and I always will.  It's something that I do when I'm bored, spending hours on end just plugging away at whatever's on my mind, but I don't take it very seriously; I've been a very informal writer since I was a kid (too many comic books, I guess), and at almost every grade level, I've had points taken off on my papers because they weren't written in a "professional" manner.  This is something I found ridiculous and frustrating, and I finally stopped writing on my own for a while because it was no longer fun.  I felt as if my creativity was being squashed.

When I found MMA, I figured I would try my hand at reviewing; I love music and the site didn't seem to have restrictions on how to write, so why not?  I quickly found that it was something I really enjoyed.  I could write about whatever the hell I wanted, however the hell I wanted, and be making a contribution somehow.  I would just keep writing, and writing, and writing, without much of an idea about what exactly should have been written.  The other problem with this was that I would go through long droughts of just not having any inspiration, since how I wrote reviews drew so heavily on whether I was in the mood to ramble or not.  Lately, I've tried to make my reviews more concise; it doesn't come as naturally to me, but it's a hell of a lot easier to read, and I feel that I can be a more productive reviewer (although I'll never be on Jonas or Kim's level when it comes to quantity).  Still, I never want to force myself into writing something I'm not interested in writing, because then it might as well not even be my work. 

I wish I could say that I have a specific review process, but I don't.  It's really something that depends on how many listens it takes me to "get" and album.  Oftentimes I will begin a review, get hung up on how to write something, and then I won't touch it again for a week or so.  That really sucks! 

What about you?  What are your thoughts on reviewing?  Pet peeves, interests, changes in style, etc.  I'd really love to get everyone's take on this.  Post whatever you feel!



Replies:
Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 28 May 2012 at 1:46pm
I love this ideaClap. Itīs something Iīve thought about doing myself but just never got around to. Now youīve opened the box and Iīm certainly interested in contributing. Just give me a little time to write something down.

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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 28 May 2012 at 2:41pm

I found PA by chance in 2007 and started writing reviews almost imidiately. My first reviews were for "...and then there were three (1978)" by Genesis and "Into the Everflow (1992) by Psychotic Waltz. I had never written a review before and actually had no writing experience whatsoever, so basically I just read a lot of reviews and tried to take the good ideas I found and use them in my reviews (not sentences but ideas on how to write). To tell you the truth there are only few of the first couple of hundreds of reviews I wrote that Iīm still proud of today and I try and go back when I have the time and edit/re-write the worst of them.

I started out writing reviews for my favorite albums and artists I knew something about before trying my hand at releases I listened to for the first time. A hard challenge bearing in mind that English is my second language and the words donīt necessarily flow easily when Iīm writing about things I donīt know too much about, but also an important challenge, which has helped me broaden my musical horizon but has also made me a more skilled reviewer.

After writing a couple of hundreds of reviews, I started to get dissatisfied with my writing style and also my at times disrespectful/better knowing attitude. So I said to myself: "What is it You want to read when you read a review?" And I soon came to the conclusion that the below review "skeleton" is basically what I want to read when I read a review and therefore thatīs basically how I write reviews and have done for a couple of years:

1. Introduction to the album:
- What is the placement of the album in the artistīs discography
- What label(s) released the album and when was it released
- anekdotes/history about the album (sometimes very little info and sometimes a lot. Depending on which album Iīm reviewing and how much information is available). I usually do a minimum of research before writing this part of my review. In some cases research can take hours.

2. Description of the music:
- I try to give a general idea of how the music sounds without going too much into details. Too many details/minute by minite descriptions of each track on an album have a tendency to become a boring read, and I try not to lull my readers into a sleep with my reviews. If I can I try to mention highlights or unusual tracks, but again only mentions, not detailed descriptions.

3. Musicianship:
- When I read a review Iīd like to know if weīre talking amaturs or skilled professionals, so I usually mention that in my review too. If there is something out of the ordinary going on Iīll probably mention that too (an extremely skilled drummer, a lead vocalist with a great voice...etc.).

4. Sound production/mix
- I think sound production is an extremely important part of an album and Iīll almost always mention what kind of sound production the listener can expect. This is an area Iīm still working on improving. It doesnīt come natural to me, talking about production techniques. I would be able to explain myself much better in Danish on this particular subject.

5. Conclusion
- What do I think about the album?
- How does it hold up to the other releases in the artistīs discography or to similar artits?
- Rating

Thatīs basically it. Itīs a formula, that Iīve come to appreciate. A formula is especially good to fall back on if you are having difficulties getting the words out. Then itīs nice to have some basics you can talk about and then boom you have a review written. I try and keep my reviews between 200 and 500 words. My own attention often wanders when reading reviews that are more than 500 words long. I simply start skimming them instead of giving them proper attention.

Some reviews take me 10 minutes to write, some take hours, some take countless hours spread over the course of years. Sometimes the muse is there and sometimes itīs not. I have a notepad document I carry with me all the time, where I have drafts for reviews. Sometimes I write a sentence on a review and then go back to writing on an entirely different review. Depends a lot on my mood what kind of music I want to write about. I only write about albums I have very recently listened to though and that goes for albums I know very well too.



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Posted By: Diogenes
Date Posted: 28 May 2012 at 3:09pm
That's a great write-up, Jonas.  The formulaic "skeleton" idea is probably something I'm going to switch over to sometime in the future, even if I want to write longer reviews.  It is definitely a great way to beat writer's block.

And if this means anything, your English is better than that of half the people I know. Smile


Posted By: dtguitarfan
Date Posted: 28 May 2012 at 3:27pm
That's a great formula, Jonas.  And I wouldn't have guessed English was your second language from the things I've read by you either.

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Posted By: dreadpirateroberts
Date Posted: 28 May 2012 at 7:43pm
Well said, Jonas. Your reviews are great indeed.
 
And that "disrespectful/better knowing attitude" is indeed of limited use to a person actually seeking information about an album. 
 
I write reviews based on mood - sometimes I start and it's garbage so I give up for weeks on that album, so I have a dozen half finfished albums. More free time would help so, so much.
 
Often if there's a classic album that has dozens of reviews I attempt a slightly different angle.


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Posted By: Wilytank
Date Posted: 28 May 2012 at 7:53pm
I've never had a solid outline for my reviews besides an intro and conclusion.  I've made it a point to talk about as many good or bad things I can identify, which is why I look down upon bare bones reviews for not saying much at all.

One thing I would like to say is that rating albums out of five stars is way too general for my liking.  I much prefer rating things out of 100 like Encyclopaedia Metallum does it.  5/5 does not equal 100/100 in my system.

My system for conversion is as follows

5/5 = 95/100 to 100/100
4.5/5 = 89/100 to 94/100
4/5 = 79/100 to 88/100
3.5/5 = 73/100 to 78/100
3/5 = 60/100 to 72/100
2.5/5 = 50/100 to 59/100
2/5 = 36/100 to 49/100
1.5/5 = 20/100 to 35/100
1/5 = 11/100 to 19/100
0.5/5 = 10/100 and below.

So far, I've only published one 0.5/5 album to EM (Torsofuck's Erotic Diarrhea Fantasy) which I gave a 3%.


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 29 May 2012 at 2:22am
^I think I prefer the bare bones concise reviews, but thatīs subjective and one of the great things about a site like MMA. You have the opportunity to read reviews by many different people, who write in their own style (long ones, detailed ones, not so detailed ones and short ones). Some youīll trust and some you wonīt. Some youīll prefer and some you probably wonīt read that often. I like the fact that the reviews on this site, are written by "regular" folks contra so called "professional" reviewers, who often IMO arenīt better at writing reviews than many of the people here. They are just as subjective in their opinions as everyone else.

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Posted By: dreadpirateroberts
Date Posted: 29 May 2012 at 2:49am
^ true, too many of the worst, worst, worst reviews I've ever read have been by professionals - like the turkey who reviewed LZII for Rolling Stone - can't recall his name, but it sucked.

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Posted By: Wilytank
Date Posted: 30 May 2012 at 12:09pm
One other thing I like about EM is the ability to add a witty review title.  Now I don't go out of my way to think one up and often I just take a part of the lyrics, but titles to reviews definitely add some more personal touch to the review.  Unfortunately, there's people who take the boring approach: [band name] - [album title], and those reviews don't catch my eye as much.  Titles aren't necessary, but they can sure make reviews noticeable.

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Posted By: Time Signature
Date Posted: 30 May 2012 at 2:14pm
Originally posted by Wilytank Wilytank wrote:

One other thing I like about EM is the ability to add a witty review title.


I agree on this one.


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Posted By: dreadpirateroberts
Date Posted: 30 May 2012 at 5:38pm
Originally posted by dreadpirateroberts dreadpirateroberts wrote:

^ true, too many of the worst, worst, worst reviews I've ever read have been by professionals - like the turkey who reviewed LZII for Rolling Stone - can't recall his name, but it sucked.
 
Just realised I missed the name of the publication before - apologies


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Posted By: Diogenes
Date Posted: 30 May 2012 at 7:07pm
Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

^I think I prefer the bare bones concise reviews, but thatīs subjective and one of the great things about a site like MMA. You have the opportunity to read reviews by many different people, who write in their own style (long ones, detailed ones, not so detailed ones and short ones). Some youīll trust and some you wonīt. Some youīll prefer and some you probably wonīt read that often. I like the fact that the reviews on this site, are written by "regular" folks contra so called "professional" reviewers, who often IMO arenīt better at writing reviews than many of the people here. They are just as subjective in their opinions as everyone else.


That's kind of why I started this thread, so we can get to know each other a little better as reviewers.  Lots of great stuff here so far, keep it coming!

We do have a lot of members on this site who also write for more "professional" websites, I think.  That's a word you have to take with a grain of salt; I can't tell you how many times I've been frustrated with "professional" sports analysts who think that they're all that just because they're on TV, while there are college students making far better analyses on message boards.  Especially with something like music, where mostly everything is subjective, you kinda have to fend for yourself when reading people's opinions...but that's far better than those opinions not being shared at all because the site won't allow it.


Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 31 May 2012 at 1:03am
I write for my own website first and foremost. How 'professional' you want to call that is up for debate, since we're entirely non-profit. Though being part of a community that helps you find new music is rewarding in its own right. Call us(me) semi-professional if you will, after all I do receive promos from some labels.

I have a semi-set in stone style of reviewing which I sometimes intentionally break depending on how the words flow. I seem to have sub-consciously picked up a trait from Jonas with starting review like "Album is that whatever number album from so and so band" etc. It's a good way to get going, as I often find the hardest line to write is the first one. The rest of my reviews typically cover the same stuff in varying length. It's all about how the words flow. Some albums I find need more said on them than others, especially if the album has both positive and negative aspects to cover. Take my recent Augury reviews. I prefer Concealed, yet I wrote a fair bit more for Fragmentary Evidence. 

My familiarity with a band can also affect my reviews. Sometimes if its my first encounter with an established band I will says that the review is from the perspective a newcomer. If I'm familiar with the band though they may get graded based on what expectations I had from them as much as from their genre. I also have varying standards from different sub-genres since with metal as diverse as it is if I looked for the same positives in every sub there'd be some subs always getting lower or higher reviews. As such I tend to be more critical on some, such as symphonic metal, where I'm really not interested these days if all you can do is be a poor intimation of what Nightwish or Epica is already doing better.


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 31 May 2012 at 1:57am
Originally posted by dreadpirateroberts dreadpirateroberts wrote:

Originally posted by dreadpirateroberts dreadpirateroberts wrote:

^ true, too many of the worst, worst, worst reviews I've ever read have been by professionals - like the turkey who reviewed LZII for Rolling Stone - can't recall his name, but it sucked.
 
Just realised I missed the name of the publication before - apologies
 
Tongueyeah I did find your comment lacking something.


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Posted By: dreadpirateroberts
Date Posted: 31 May 2012 at 7:26am
Hahaha! I'm on fire of late - all over the shop, I need a decent night's sleep for once!

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We are men of action. Lies do not become us.


Posted By: Diogenes
Date Posted: 31 May 2012 at 12:13pm
Originally posted by adg211288 adg211288 wrote:

I write for my own website first and foremost. How 'professional' you want to call that is up for debate, since we're entirely non-profit. Though being part of a community that helps you find new music is rewarding in its own right. Call us(me) semi-professional if you will, after all I do receive promos from some labels.

I have a semi-set in stone style of reviewing which I sometimes intentionally break depending on how the words flow. I seem to have sub-consciously picked up a trait from Jonas with starting review like "Album is that whatever number album from so and so band" etc. It's a good way to get going, as I often find the hardest line to write is the first one. The rest of my reviews typically cover the same stuff in varying length. It's all about how the words flow. Some albums I find need more said on them than others, especially if the album has both positive and negative aspects to cover. Take my recent Augury reviews. I prefer Concealed, yet I wrote a fair bit more for Fragmentary Evidence. 

My familiarity with a band can also affect my reviews. Sometimes if its my first encounter with an established band I will says that the review is from the perspective a newcomer. If I'm familiar with the band though they may get graded based on what expectations I had from them as much as from their genre. I also have varying standards from different sub-genres since with metal as diverse as it is if I looked for the same positives in every sub there'd be some subs always getting lower or higher reviews. As such I tend to be more critical on some, such as symphonic metal, where I'm really not interested these days if all you can do is be a poor intimation of what Nightwish or Epica is already doing better.


Take this for what it's worth, but you're the one guy on this site I would model my reviews after, if possible.  Your writing is very professional but still has a looot of detail, which is where I want to end up with my reviews eventually.  And per the bolded, I think that's why it's beneficial to try to review as many subgenres as possible; to learn more about them and expand your horizons, sure, but also so you don't have to write "Modern Thrash band X plays metal that is heavily influenced by bands such as Exodus and Slayer" hundreds of times.  Being someone who strives to write something unique for each review, I don't think I'd be able to stomach that.


Posted By: Time Signature
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 4:01am
Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

^I think I prefer the bare bones concise reviews, but thatīs subjective and one of the great things about a site like MMA. You have the opportunity to read reviews by many different people, who write in their own style (long ones, detailed ones, not so detailed ones and short ones). Some youīll trust and some you wonīt. Some youīll prefer and some you probably wonīt read that often.


Yeah, I prefer shorter reviews, too. I generally do not read review that are very long - except if it is a release that I am really interested in or if the review is very well written, humorous or innovative (I think this has to do with my day job which requires that I do a lot of reading, meaning that I am generally reading-saturated in my spare time - and the same thing goes for writing).

I prefer writing short reviews for the same reason (also, I am generally very busy IRL, so I rarely have time to write elaborate and lengthy reviews). That being said, I do enjoy experimenting with different review styles, such as the fanboy rant or the metaphor-riddled review or the vocative review or the would-be academic review, and I plan to do some nonsensical reviews for some avant-garde metal releases (I think they'd be very fitting).

I find negative reviews more challenging to write because I really don't want to be a dick and just bash the release, plus I always try to find at least some positive aspects of such releases (or at least aspects which other listeners might find positive). I do enjoy reading negative reviews because they can be very entertaining - like Wilytank's brilliant dialogue review of Black Veil Brides' "Set the World on Fire". One thing I refrain from is attacking the musicians personally - ad hominem reviews have no value whatsoever in my book, because they say nothing about the music itself and they just make the reviewer come across as a dickhead.

And, in general, I like the variety of reviews we get here on the MMA. That's also one of the things that I really appreciate about this site.

Quote I like the fact that the reviews on this site, are written by "regular" folks contra so called "professional" reviewers, who often IMO arenīt better at writing reviews than many of the people here. They are just as subjective in their opinions as everyone else.


I agree... which is why I found that whole situation, when a rabid Sun caged fan went on a massive rant because Stephen wrote a negative review of their latest album, quite interesting. I remember that the guy ended up concluding that the MMA was not a worthy site because we're not professional reviewers (somewhere on Facebook where the whole "conflict" originated). It should be mentioned that Paul from Sun Caged took a much more constructive and diplomatic approach to the whole situation and the distinction between professional and amateur reviewers.

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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 5:04am
Originally posted by Diogenes Diogenes wrote:

 Take this for what it's worth, but you're the one guy on this site I would model my reviews after, if possible.  Your writing is very professional but still has a looot of detail, which is where I want to end up with my reviews eventually.  And per the bolded, I think that's why it's beneficial to try to review as many subgenres as possible; to learn more about them and expand your horizons, sure, but also so you don't have to write "Modern Thrash band X plays metal that is heavily influenced by bands such as Exodus and Slayer" hundreds of times.  Being someone who strives to write something unique for each review, I don't think I'd be able to stomach that.

Thanks mate, means a lot. Smile

It's ironic, but I actually have EM to thank for my standard of reviewing. Say what you like about their policies on what is metal and what isn't, but they do know how to get the best out of reviewers. 

I'm going to be honest but I find most very short reviews, as in single paragraph ones, next to useless, especially the ones printed in the UK's Metal Hammer magazine. 


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 5:33am
Iīve read very short reviews, that were very useful and long ones that were a complete waste of time (and space). It all depends on the reviewer and his/her writing style.

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Posted By: Time Signature
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 5:42am
Originally posted by adg211288 adg211288 wrote:

I'm going to be honest but I find most very short reviews, as in single paragraph ones, next to useless, especially the ones printed in the UK's Metal Hammer magazine. 


I rarely read that mag, and when I do, I never read the reviews, but I have read my share of similar reviews in other mags (and here I have to be honest, I think that most main stream print metal mags are next to useless). I think that the type of very short review that you refer to is often next to useless - so we agree there. There can be good reviews of that type nonetheless, but the writer will really have to know the art of information packaging and information compression. And, I think that we do have some reviewers her on MMA who are very good at that.

I find it surprising that the Metal Hammer reviews are as bad as you say they are, because the Metal Hammer writers have worked within that format for ages (and they kind of have an excuse for writing those short reviews, since their mag is a physical one with word limits and layout conventions etc.), so one should expect that they have developed some strategies to get the most out of whatever space they have to write reviews in.

I should say that I did not bash long reviews in the previous post of mine... it's just that I do not have the patience or the time to read them because of the amount of reading I do in my day job, so, when it comes to long reviews, I generally only read the ones about releases that I am really interested in.


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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 7:09am
Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

Iīve read very short reviews, that were very useful and long ones that were a complete waste of time (and space). It all depends on the reviewer and his/her writing style.

I agree with that, but I do find that with some really short reviews that they could be talking about pretty much any album of that band or genre. I don't find that helpful at all. 

Originally posted by Time Signature Time Signature wrote:

I rarely read that mag, and when I do, I never read the reviews, but I have read my share of similar reviews in other mags (and here I have to be honest, I think that most main stream print metal mags are next to useless). I think that the type of very short review that you refer to is often next to useless - so we agree there. There can be good reviews of that type nonetheless, but the writer will really have to know the art of information packaging and information compression. And, I think that we do have some reviewers her on MMA who are very good at that.

I find it surprising that the Metal Hammer reviews are as bad as you say they are, because the Metal Hammer writers have worked within that format for ages (and they kind of have an excuse for writing those short reviews, since their mag is a physical one with word limits and layout conventions etc.), so one should expect that they have developed some strategies to get the most out of whatever space they have to write reviews in.

I should say that I did not bash long reviews in the previous post of mine... it's just that I do not have the patience or the time to read them because of the amount of reading I do in my day job, so, when it comes to long reviews, I generally only read the ones about releases that I am really interested in.

I have stopped reading the reviews except for the featured ones, since they're longer and more in depth. And I wouldn't say that these short reviews are 'bad', no matter who's doing them, they're just not for me.

I think the important thing to remember with any reviewer regardless of their style is that not every review is going to be the best work they can do. I find with some albums the words just won't flow at all. For albums I was reviewing off my own back I'd just abandon it in such cases, at least temporarily, but for promos I do try to review all of them.


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 8:29am
Yeah there is definitely a thing about flow and a sometimes a failing muse that has to be taken into consideration. Iīm much happier about some of my reviews than others. Especially the reviews I do for promos, where itīs not necessarily music I personally favor or know much about, can be hard to write.
 
There is also a question of some albums just not being interesting enough to write a whole essay about. There are many pretty generic/standard releases out there and sometimes my reviews of those come off as "honorable mentions" rather than detailed reviews. Iīm fully conscious about that and I donīt see it as an issue. If someone feel I havenīt given an album enough credit or havenīt mentioned enough details they are always welcome to post their own review mentioning all the details I missed. Or they can bitch and whine in the shouts sectionLOL
 
...of course shouts still need to be somewhat respectful but if people donīt agree with what I write I would love to hear what they have to say.


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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 9:34am
Yeah sometimes no matter how hard I look I can't find much to say about an album, especially ones I gave mid-range ratings to. 

Of course negative reviews are the hardest to write. But I think the important thing to remember is that honesty is the best approach, and in my experience artists appreciate that. It's definitely possible to write a negative review while being respectful. 

Actually thinking about it, on the talk of professionalism with reviews, I think that the ability to write a respectful negative review is about the ultimate test. 


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Posted By: dtguitarfan
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 10:28am
Man, I'm struggling right now to write a review for a favorite artist - the artist is a favorite of mine, but I don't think his new album is all that great.  I mean, I loved some of the tracks, but over all I don't think I'd recommend it.  So I'm struggling to write a positive/negative review - positive about the artist but honest about the fact that I didn't think the album was his best.

I've only ever written one absolutely scathing review, and I probably wasn't respectful but dang it, I was mad, haha!  I never put it up here - it's over on Prog Archives, but I'm telling you it seems like no one gives anything by this artist anything but 5 stars, and when I was listening to it it just seemed so out there and weird - like, come on, be honest that this is NOT for everyone, you know?  5 stars should mean that you would instantly recommend it to anyone and everyone, and it seemed like anyone should be able to recognize that this one was NOT for anyone and everyone, by a long shot.  I don't know if that makes sense, but there it is.

Rant over, haha!


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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 10:53am
I've given an artist I really like a very low rating before. I consider the review respectful for the most part although I did end it by saying I only recommend it as a spare beer mat - the frustrated fan in me talking there. I'm talking about this one:  http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/the-scythe--review.aspx?id=228877" rel="nofollow - http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/the-scythe--review.aspx?id=228877

If you are struggling you can feel free to PM me the review for a once over. 


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 1:46pm
Originally posted by dtguitarfan dtguitarfan wrote:

Man, I'm struggling right now to write a review for a favorite artist - the artist is a favorite of mine, but I don't think his new album is all that great.  I mean, I loved some of the tracks, but over all I don't think I'd recommend it.  So I'm struggling to write a positive/negative review - positive about the artist but honest about the fact that I didn't think the album was his best.

I've only ever written one absolutely scathing review, and I probably wasn't respectful but dang it, I was mad, haha!  I never put it up here - it's over on Prog Archives, but I'm telling you it seems like no one gives anything by this artist anything but 5 stars, and when I was listening to it it just seemed so out there and weird - like, come on, be honest that this is NOT for everyone, you know?  5 stars should mean that you would instantly recommend it to anyone and everyone, and it seemed like anyone should be able to recognize that this one was NOT for anyone and everyone, by a long shot.  I don't know if that makes sense, but there it is.

Rant over, haha!
 
I think people have all sorts of different systems and reasons for rating as they do. I probably rate some albums with 5 stars that you would absolutely hate and visa versa. Personally I rate albums with 5 stars if they are exceptional in my book. I donīt consider, and I donīt necessarily think itīs important, if anyone else feels the same way. Some people rate lo-fi noisy black metal demos with 5 star ratings, which are usually releases I give 1 star ratings. IMO itīs all down to personal taste. What moves you and what leaves you cold.


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 1:47pm
Originally posted by adg211288 adg211288 wrote:

Yeah sometimes no matter how hard I look I can't find much to say about an album, especially ones I gave mid-range ratings to. 

Of course negative reviews are the hardest to write. But I think the important thing to remember is that honesty is the best approach, and in my experience artists appreciate that. It's definitely possible to write a negative review while being respectful. 

Actually thinking about it, on the talk of professionalism with reviews, I think that the ability to write a respectful negative review is about the ultimate test. 
 
Youīre damn right about that. Itīs extremely hard to write a negative review in a respectful manner. "ultimate reviewer test" is definitely the right term for it.


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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 2:55pm
Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

I think people have all sorts of different systems and reasons for rating as they do.
  

Yeah, makes me think of something I read on the Rate Your Music FAQ about rating systems. 2 stars can be a good album in some people's view.

Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

I probably rate some albums with 5 stars that you would absolutely hate and visa versa. Personally I rate albums with 5 stars if they are exceptional in my book. I donīt consider, and I donīt necessarily think itīs important, if anyone else feels the same way. Some people rate lo-fi noisy black metal demos with 5 star ratings, which are usually releases I give 1 star ratings. IMO itīs all down to personal taste. What moves you and what leaves you cold.

I don't see you give out full 5's that often. I'm more free with them than I sometimes care to be but I do find it hard not to when I album gets me going so much that it goes on heavy rotation for weeks on end. The different systems thing again I guess. I can tell from the text of reviews you've done for albums I've rated 5 stars that we seem to regard the album about the same in many cases. Honestly when we're talking reviews the text is worth a lot more than the rating given at the end of it. Some sites/magazines don't even score their reviews.

I think my leaning towards 4 stars and above comes on my part from reading other reviews, especially when I was starting out, and see people rating albums with 7/10 and then saying that there's nothing wrong with it. To be 7/10, or 3.5 stars per MMA, tells me that a release is good but there is something holding it back, otherwise why'd it lose those points? That's why unless I find something really notably wrong with an album I give it at least 4 stars. I know I did just say that rating isn't as important as text, but I do think if you are putting a rating on your text should match up with that rating. Hence if I don't have any major complaints, I give 4 stars or more.

That's my system anyhow.


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 3:01pm
These are my statistics from RYM:
 
Breakdown by rating:

0.50 stars 0 (0.0%)
1.00 stars 16 (1.47%)
1.50 stars 8 (0.73%)
2.00 stars 41 (3.76%)
2.50 stars 76 (6.98%)
3.00 stars 256 (23.5%)
3.50 stars 372 (34.1%)
4.00 stars 260 (23.8%)
4.50 stars 44 (4.04%)
5.00 stars 15 (1.37%)

Average Rating: 3.38 stars
Thatīs fifteen 5 star reviews out of 1088 reviews, so yeah you are right I seldom give out 5 stars.Smile
 
...Iīm still rating higher than I probably should, but it has a lot to do with the fact that I often review music that I like. Itīs not often Iīm in the mood to spend time with a release Iīm giving 2.5 stars or lower. Thatīs simply releases I have no interest in.


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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 4:52pm
If I went through all my oldest ratings there'd probably be a few 5's that would get downgraded to 4.5 now. 

Honestly I'm very casual with rating without reviewing. If I rate then review later my rating sometimes goes up but just as often goes down as I take a more objective approach. 

My breakdown looks very different:

0.50 stars3 (0.35%)
1.00 stars12 (1.43%)
1.50 stars8 (0.95%)
2.00 stars17 (2.02%)
2.50 stars17 (2.02%)
3.00 stars58 (6.91%)
3.50 stars143 (17.0%)
4.00 stars263 (31.3%)
4.50 stars200 (23.8%)
5.00 stars118 (14.0%)

Average Rating: 3.95 stars 

Respect for never giving out a 0.5 by the way.


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Posted By: Wilytank
Date Posted: 05 Jun 2012 at 6:44pm
I only have more because I have more stuff rated.  Most of the .5/5s are singles.  Quite a few of them are singles that were on the radio, and you guys can guess how much I hate goddamn public radio.

Breakdown by rating: 

0.50 stars27 (1.65%)
1.00 stars19 (1.16%)
1.50 stars23 (1.40%)
2.00 stars27 (1.65%)
2.50 stars61 (3.73%)
3.00 stars130 (7.96%)
3.50 stars205 (12.5%)
4.00 stars501 (30.6%)
4.50 stars441 (27.0%)
5.00 stars198 (12.1%)

Average Rating: 3.89 stars 


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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 06 Jun 2012 at 3:09am
One of my 0.5's is for a single, sorry I mean for a man who's a table. Another is for the album that spawned that single. 

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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 06 Jun 2012 at 3:38am
LOL

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Posted By: Wilytank
Date Posted: 06 Jun 2012 at 9:02am
Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

Originally posted by adg211288 adg211288 wrote:

Yeah sometimes no matter how hard I look I can't find much to say about an album, especially ones I gave mid-range ratings to. 

Of course negative reviews are the hardest to write. But I think the important thing to remember is that honesty is the best approach, and in my experience artists appreciate that. It's definitely possible to write a negative review while being respectful. 

Actually thinking about it, on the talk of professionalism with reviews, I think that the ability to write a respectful negative review is about the ultimate test. 
 
Youīre damn right about that. Itīs extremely hard to write a negative review in a respectful manner. "ultimate reviewer test" is definitely the right term for it.

The problem with that is that often if it's an extremely negative view, you feel that the artist doesn't deserve respect.

tick...tick...boom:  http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/erotic-diarrhea-fantasy--review.aspx?id=257849" rel="nofollow - http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/erotic-diarrhea-fantasy--review.aspx?id=257849


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 06 Jun 2012 at 9:37am
Yeah and I would be lying if I didnīt admit that I find such reviews entertainingSmile, but they are not very respectful.

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Posted By: Wilytank
Date Posted: 06 Jun 2012 at 8:37pm
Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

Yeah and I would be lying if I didnīt admit that I find such reviews entertainingSmile, but they are not very respectful.

The way I see it, if I'm supposed to write a respectful review, then the band needs to earn my respect.  If they make an album that I consider vapid, they have failed to earn my respect.  Thus, I cannot show respect in my review because there is no respect to show.


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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2012 at 8:22am
I haven't heard the album you linked to there, nor wish to for that matter, but for albums such as that it is hard to respect the artist. 

However I actually think your review for that album is about as respectful as you possibly could have been in that case. It's a well written review for something that clearly has no issues with not being respectful in its own right. Going out and intentionally making an album like that does not deserve respect IMO and it cases like this the review would be a lie if you didn't say exactly how you feel. 

When talking about do respectful negative reviews I'm not thinking of albums with no other intent than to shock with sick shit like that, if you'll pardon the unavoidable pun.


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Posted By: UMUR
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2012 at 9:28am
...well there are actually people out there who like music like that...

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Posted By: Time Signature
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2012 at 1:03pm
Originally posted by UMUR UMUR wrote:

...well there are actually people out there who like music like that...


And they're sick shits!

Nah, just kidding ;-)


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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2012 at 2:04pm
I know. It'll be a five star masterpiece to some individuals. That's rather worrying to me.


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Posted By: Kingcrimsonprog
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2012 at 5:17am
I give out a lot of five star reviews... but this is because often only five star albums move me to write.
If something is bad I usually don't have anything to say about it, unless it is a warning about poor quality amateur DVDs being sold as if they were big budget affairs.

As for my likes and dislikes... I think I might have accidentally stolen UMMR's style. It wasn't intentional but I did notice when I got here that I had started to think it was the best possible way to write.


I recently wrote a blog post about what I dislike, phrases in particular: http://kingcrimsonprog.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/3357/" rel="nofollow - http://kingcrimsonprog.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/3357/

What I also dislike is a lot of negativity, superiority complexes, trying to prove how smart you are and other general bad personality traits.

A few personal choice things, I don't like when a review scores each individual track. I have no reason to dislike it, and don't understand why I do, but I still do for whatever reason.

My absolute number one pet peeve is when a review isn't about the album. If its a story about how you went to download festival, or a rant about when the band sold out, or a question about amplifiers, or something else that isn't actually a review.


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Posted By: dreadpirateroberts
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2012 at 8:18am
^ Some of the 'bad points' as you suggest them make me think of Christgau a bit, in terms of the strive for cleverness that tells the reader zip about an album

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Posted By: adg211288
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2012 at 8:48am
Originally posted by Kingcrimsonprog Kingcrimsonprog wrote:

A few personal choice things, I don't like when a review scores each individual track. I have no reason to dislike it, and don't understand why I do, but I still do for whatever reason.

Track by track would never be my first choice of review format but I can tolerate it. The only thing I dislike about it is when a reviewer scores every track and then gives the album an overall score that doesn't match up with it, for example rating all tracks with at least 3.5 stars then saying it's only a 2 star album overall. I'll always say that text means hell of a lot more than numbers but it is something of a pet peeve of mine. Along the same lines I always have a WTF moment when a reviewer writes a score in the text which is different to the rating attached to the review. I'd say this is more than a pet peeve though and actually go as far to say I consider it bad practice and misleading to people who read the review, since if you're like me, and look at the rating first, and then read something that doesn't match up with it all that review ultimately told me that the reviewer wasn't actually ready to review that album. I know its a harsh view to take but I think the most important thing with any review is to be clear. Mismatched ratings of any kind of not clear IMO.

That turned out longer than intended. Embarrassed


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Posted By: Kingcrimsonprog
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2012 at 8:56am
Originally posted by dreadpirateroberts dreadpirateroberts wrote:

^ Some of the 'bad points' as you suggest them make me think of Christgau a bit, in terms of the strive for cleverness that tells the reader zip about an album


Never heard of it or them or him.

Is it this :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Christgau" rel="nofollow - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Christgau ?


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Posted By: dreadpirateroberts
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2012 at 5:04pm
^ Yep, it's him, often one of the least informative and thus least useful (professional) reviewers around.
I often find myself complaining about him due to his work too often failing to meet several rather important basic criteria for a review.

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