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Nicole
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2772 reviews/ratings
IMMORTAL - The Seventh Date of Blashyrkh Black Metal
DARKTHRONE - A Blaze In The Northern Sky Black Metal
CARACH ANGREN - Death Came Through a Phantom Ship Symphonic Black Metal
ANCIENT WISDOM - For Snow Covered the Northland Atmospheric Black Metal
FEN - Epoch Atmospheric Black Metal
DARKENED NOCTURN SLAUGHTERCULT - Hora Nocturna Black Metal
KVIST - For kunsten maa vi evig vike Melodic Black Metal
BORKNAGAR - The Olden Domain Viking Metal
CRUACHAN - Folk-Lore Folk Metal
АРКОНА - Гой, Роде, гой! Folk Metal
АРКОНА - От сердца к небу Folk Metal
BEYOND TWILIGHT - Section X Progressive Metal
BEYOND TWILIGHT - For the Love of Art and the Making Progressive Metal
ICED EARTH - Night of the Stormrider US Power Metal
ICED EARTH - Burnt Offerings US Power Metal
ICED EARTH - Horror Show US Power Metal
BLIND GUARDIAN - Tales From the Twilight World Power Metal
REBELLION - Born a Rebel Power Metal
REBELLION - Miklagard - The History of the Vikings Volume II Power Metal
REBELLION - Arise: From Ginnungagap to Ragnarök - The History of the Vikings Volume III Power Metal

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Power Metal 409 4.17
2 Heavy Metal 312 3.86
3 Progressive Metal 304 4.19
4 Folk Metal 158 3.89
5 Black Metal 141 4.09
6 Hard Rock 131 3.61
7 US Power Metal 131 4.34
8 Atmospheric Black Metal 130 4.34
9 Symphonic Metal 98 3.93
10 Thrash Metal 94 4.05
11 Death Metal 83 3.62
12 Technical Death Metal 76 4.28
13 Melodic Death Metal 67 3.90
14 Non-Metal 60 3.42
15 Metal Related 57 3.99
16 Melodic Black Metal 47 4.30
17 Groove Metal 42 3.39
18 Speed Metal 42 3.90
19 Symphonic Black Metal 40 4.20
20 Gothic Metal 37 3.91
21 Alternative Metal 37 2.95
22 Stoner Rock 33 3.83
23 NWoBHM 30 4.42
24 Heavy Psych 24 4.29
25 Doom Metal 24 4.29
26 Traditional Doom Metal 19 4.47
27 Death-Doom Metal 14 4.36
28 Heavy Alternative Rock 14 3.50
29 Avant-garde Metal 12 3.92
30 Technical Thrash Metal 11 4.18
31 Stoner Metal 10 4.10
32 Viking Metal 10 3.85
33 Pagan Black Metal 10 3.90
34 Industrial Metal 8 4.19
35 Sludge Metal 8 4.00
36 Brutal Death Metal 6 4.17
37 Depressive Black Metal 6 3.08
38 Funeral Doom Metal 5 4.20
39 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 5 3.90
40 Melodic Metalcore 5 3.50
41 Deathcore 4 4.00
42 Glam Metal 3 2.33
43 Crust Punk 3 3.17
44 Death 'n' Roll 3 1.00
45 Proto-Metal 3 3.50
46 Nu Metal 3 1.00
47 Funk Metal 1 1.00
48 Drone Metal 1 1.00
49 Trance Metal 1 0.50

Latest Albums Reviews

IMMORTAL War Against All

Album · 2023 · Black Metal
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The band called Immortal in the 2010s going into the 2020s isn't the same band as they existed in their 1990s heyday. Abbath, the one mainstay since their debut album Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism in 1992, has been gone since 2015 after the unthinkable happened: he and Demonaz, now the sole full band member on War Against All, the tenth album under the Immortal name, parted ways. There have been legal disputes and now the two are off doing their own things in the black metal genre, Demonaz with Immortal and Abbath under his own moniker. The last album Northern Chaos Gods still had drummer Horgh to offer a bit of continuity from All Shall Fall, their sole album of their first comeback, but this time he has also gone. As Demonaz wasn't able to actually play on any Immortal album between At the Heart of Winter and All Shall Fall due to severe tendonitis (although remained a full member of the band) we find ourselves in the unusual situation where on War Against All there is no musician actually performing in common with those who performed on some of Immortal's best known records.

This is just preamble, because so long as there is one of them performing - Abbath or Demonaz - it's a true Immortal album. And I think that Demonaz is doing pretty well in his new role as lead vocalist as well as being able to play guitar again. This isn't the kind of black metal album that's going to break the mould and neither does anyone expect it to be. Immortal was part of the original early 1990s Norwegian scene and no matter what, they've always been true to their roots.

While I miss Abbath to an extent as the voice of Immortal, I do think that between the two albums Demonax has now done under the Immortal name since they went their separate ways have one-upped Abbath's output. I don't know if there is any bad blood between these two these days about the way things went down between them, or with Horgh, but it feels like if something holds the right to a last laugh, it's Demonaz. He was always the primary writer of Immortal, especially for lyrics, and that has showed in Immortal's recent output. With that said, I'd love for these two to put aside any differences they have and restore the band to what it's supposed to be: Abbath and Demonaz, performing together in a way that hasn't been recorded on an Immortal album since Blizzard Beasts in 1997.

BLOOD CEREMONY The Old Ways Remain

Album · 2023 · Heavy Psych
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If there is one thing that is disappointing about the latest album from Blood Ceremony, The Old Ways Remain, it's that is has taken so long to reach our ears. It was in 2016 that they delivered Lord of Misrule and, being the latest in a run of exceptionally strong albums, the band seemed like they were at the top of their game. But then they dropped off the map. While whispers of a follow-up started in 2019 with the release of the Lolly Willows single, it's taken until 2023 for the full-length album to materialise.

But since that's the only thing we've really got to worry about with The Old Ways Remain, it's safe to say that Blood Ceremony haven't disappointed with their comeback. In many ways this picks up where Lord of Misrule left off: folksy, flute-laden heavy psych rock that feels straight out of an earlier period of rock music history. They've often been described as sounding like the love child of Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull and while they tend to lean more toward the latter for the last few albums compared to their earlier work, it's a comparison that still holds some relevance. If it actually had been released in the late 1960s to early 1970s, we'd most likely call it proto-metal.

This isn't an album that's going to shock anyone who has heard previous Blood Ceremony albums. Something that is new is that they have thrown in a bit of jazzy saxophone this time around, but mostly this is the fun, distinctive riffs, organ drenched, flute-laden heavy psych we know and love them for. And since they made us wait several years for it, the album goes down a treat. The Old Ways Remain indeed, still valid in the 21st Century.

SUPERSONIC REVOLUTION Golden Age of Music

Album · 2023 · Progressive Metal
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Golden Age of Music, the debut album of Arjen Lucassen's Supersonic Revolution, is basically the Dutch multi-instrumentalists love letter to the 1970s. Presented atypically for Lucassen as the work of a full band, with Arjen himself handling bass duties, the album was released in 2023.

Though injected with more of a dose of classic hard rock than would typically be expected of an Arjen Lucassen venture, the sound of the album is pretty much what you'd expect to hear from one of his projects. While one doesn't typically expect Lucassen to step too far outside of his progressive rock/metal comfort zone, he is usually able to offer an alternate slant to it than is heard on his flagship project Ayreon. While Supersonic Revolution has only the one vocalist compared to Ayreon's rock opera casts, Jaycee Cuijpers, the music itself this time feels just that bit too familiar and by the numbers, a marked difference from previous times Lucassen has done something under a new name such as Guilt Machine and The Gentle Storm.

In short, it's just not that exciting. While Lucassen doesn't really do outright bad albums, I think only a 3 star rating is deserved in this case because I can't recommend it except for completionists. This feels like an album made by a man who has nothing to prove (and he doesn't), just because he wants to. And that in its way is great, but it's also not going to win anyone over who doesn't already like what he does.

POPPY I Disagree

Album · 2020 · Alternative Metal
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Here are two facts about myself: I'm female and I'm a massive fan of metal music. Once upon a time that would have openly been considered a paradox, but fortunately we've moved on somewhat. Not enough, but progress has been made; in 2020 being a girl and into this kind of music really isn't noteworthy. There are many women now performing in major metal bands in a variety of roles and sub-genres and more women are attending metal gigs (or we would be if not for that little bastard known as Covid-19). There are also some female musicians who have become notable for starting their careers in other genres before making the jump to metal. The 2010s saw Amalie Bruun go from various indie pop outfits to atmospheric black metal as Myrkur. Chelsea Wolfe released a doom metal album and started the sludge metal/noise rock act Mrs Piss. And Rose Kemp went from psychedelic/folk music to doom metal.

Enter Poppy.

What can we say about Poppy? Well, she's followed a similar route having made a name performing electro-pop styles, but for her third studio album I Disagree has made the jump to alternative metal. That's where the similarities in these stories end. You see, Poppy's I Disagree doesn't necessarily sound like the work of an artist who decided to embrace a love of metal the way someone like Myrkur did. Instead it sounds like the work of a hipster pop artist who decided to add some heavy guitars to her sound for the purpose being ironic without caring an iota about how the result may be perceived as a metal album. And that result is what may just be the most offensive metal album to female metalheads ever created and the stupid thing is if my suspicions are right about what Poppy was actually going for with I Disagree then she probably will never have a clue about why that is.

Let's add some context, the rarely spoken about female experience of being a metalhead. Like in many walks of life, women into metal have had to put up with a lot of unacceptable crap from men who half the time probably don't even realise they're doing it. Actually not just men, but other women who don't like metal as well can actually be just as bad or at least bloody judgemental toward a woman who listens to metal. As a female headbanger I have often found myself on the receiving end of the assumption that when I speak about metal that I don't know what I'm talking about, never mind that my Dad practically raised me on a diet of classic 70s and 80s metal and hard rock bands. There was even a meme posted here on Metal Music Archives once with the words 'When a girl says she likes heavy music' picturing Slayer as 'what you hope for' and Nickelback as 'what she means'.

And that's just the start of the shit we have to deal with, especially in the online context which for many metalheads regardless of gender is often the only place we get to actually discuss the music we love with like-minded people. Online I have been accused more than once of not being a girl, but a G.I.R.L. which you internet savvy folks will know stands for Guy in Real Life. One guy even went so far that in my early days on YouTube took it upon himself to actually make a video about me and how I was a 'sock account'. This was after I wouldn't agree with his opinion on something so trivial I no longer even remember what it was.

Does anyone realise just how fucking offensive that is? And this is not to mention the situation at gigs. It was more of a problem a few years ago, but still, I've had to put up with people assuming I'm just someone's girlfriend dragged along against her will or that I'm just there to be provocative to guys. In fact I was even sexually assaulted at a gig once by some drunk arsehole which ultimately resulted in me getting kicked out by a bouncer after I defended myself.

What does this have to do with Poppy and her first (and please God let it be her only) metal album I Disagree? Because this kind of thing is how historically women in and into metal have been perceived and treated and I Disagree sets all kinds of wrong impression. Even before we hear a single note of music we have that atrocious cover where it looks like Poppy got done up in corpse paint (complete with a spiked collar), but then you'll notice it's actually just a bad Photoshop job hiding that she really doesn't look 'metal' at all. And that's a problem in that looking metal really doesn't matter to actual metalheads. Akercocke wore tweed suits for crying out loud. Image is the selling point of the pop album. But they say a picture is worth a thousand words and true to form the cover art actually gives a glimpse at the kind of music that will be found within. Not black metal, but basically what Poppy must have been doing before dressed up as metal, just like she is on the cover. That's not a very good image to set for women in metal. It reaffirms the kind of crap people expect of a girl when she says she likes metal.

Everything about the album screams wrong when trying to listen to it as a metal album. The really heavy guitars in the opener Concrete are nice, but everything else about that song made me just switch the album off in disgust on my first attempt to listen to it, with Poppy mixing those heavy riffs with sunshine pop vocals. You may as well just listen to an actual novelty act like Babymetal if you want your metal to sound cute. Personally it makes me want to go barf up my lunch.

And it really doesn't get any better across its ten songs, if anything it instead gets worse, such as at any point that Poppy abandons her pop singing for rapping, where she manages to sound like a petulant child about to throw a major tantrum rather than anything remotely close to convincing. The more bearable parts are where she drops all the pretences of being a metal album and the heavy guitars are removed, but that just leaves us with with various elements pop, electro, dance and hip-hop, which after you scratch its surface is what you're left with across the whole release. There's precious little actual metal that's anything more than vapid and generic stuff playing a supporting role in her sound. Of course metal does mix well with other genres and it's the other elements that often raise an otherwise standard sounding release up, but that's not the case here. Maybe it works form the point of view of any of the other genres she has in the mix, I won't speak for that as that is not music I care for, but as a metal album I Disagree may just be the worst thing I've ever heard.

Poppy represents a popular artist who genuinely could have introduced metal to people who wouldn't have given it the time of day before this for no other reason than its metal and as the narrow minded have taken time out of their busy days to remind me before, metal is 'evil, unfeminine and just a load of noise'. The majority of people hearing her go metal will be in this group (the rest will be existing metalheads like me who got curious without thinking about what killed the cat). This is not a good album to give newcomers an impression of what metal sounds like. It is not even a good album to get an impression of what alternative/nu metal sounds like because frankly it makes me want to shout for the dreaded Limp Bizkit to come back because all is forgiven.

On an earlier album Poppy posed the question Am I a Girl? Well Poppy I don't know what you decided, but you look like a girl and sound like a girl, and you sure as hell made a pretty awful album to judge women in metal by with this piece of work. We're in an age where female musicians in metal are becoming more plentiful and recognised for their work, not just as eye candy. I Disagree is far from representative of female achievement in the genre and yet this will likely be the most heard album from a female solo artist in metal in 2020. Maybe even the most heard metal album. And that sucks for the genre as a whole, not just the women who are embarrassed by this perversion of an album (because I sure as hell hope I'm not the only one).

Now that I've got off my chest how it makes me feel, I'm going to do my damnedest to pretend this album doesn't exist.

MOTHERSHIP High Strangeness

Album · 2017 · Stoner Rock
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When the opening title track of Mothership's 2017 third full-length album High Strangeness kicks off, you may just think you put on the wrong album. After all, the US trio is known to be a stoner metal act. But coming out of the speakers on this first track is neither stoner nor metal, but pure, beautiful space rock. Just over three minutes later though and the band start to show their true colours, as Ride the Sun introduces distorted riffs and vocals into the equation. This song is more of a stoner rock number, but the band gradually increases their metallic tendencies as the track does on, including a really heavy doomy bit towards the end before it's closed with a lead bass line. Then with Midnight Express, Mothership really start to deliver what was promised, with heavier, crunchier metallic riffs and more raw vocals alongside melodic singing.

High Strangeness is a varied record that isn't too long either, lasting for only 33:32 minutes, but this plays into its favour well. There's a twist around every corner and all kind of elements are to be found from the heavy and hard rocking to the psychedelic. After Midnight Express we move onto Crown of Lies, which has a really galloping metallic riff but otherwise is like a bridge between the two preceding songs and then it's onto Helter Skelter, which brings a noticeably fuzzier guitar tone to the table. Next, Eternal Trip returns things to a lighter but less spacey psychedelic rock sound, while finally Wise Man and Speed Dealer round the album off with as close to business as usual as the record ever delivers.

Due to the diversions into space and psychedelic rock, High Strangeness comes over as more of a rock record overall despite the band's reputation as a stoner metal act. There's still plenty of more metallic riffs here, in fact I'd say that the core sound is fairly summed up as stoner rock/metal but it's difficult to think of it as a metal album in total. I haven't heard Mothership's previous albums to know if High Strangeness is much of a departure for them, but one thing is for sure, this record is a real winner with its regularly changing yet never forced style shifts, so they've definitely done something right. Great stuff.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 1 year ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V3
    I've been playing this one a lot since it dropped a few days ago:
  • Posted 1 year ago in MMA Best of Year 2022 Results
    I got 19. Some catching up to do there.Great job on the presentation Paul. 
  • Posted 1 year ago in MMA Best of Year 2022 Voting Thread
    Blind Guardian - The God MachineSpheric Universe Experience - Back HomeWake - Thought From DescentWhite Ward - False LightStar One - Revel in TimeThreshold - Dividing LinesSigh - ShikiAllegaeon - DamnumPure Wrath - Hymn to the Woeful HeartsGaerea - MirageArch Enemy - DeceiversUltha - All That Has Never Been TrueWiegedood - There's Always Blood at the End of the RoadFellowship - The Saberlight ChroniclesEsoctrilihum - Consecration of the Spiritüs FleshAmorphis - HaloMessa - CloseAvantasia - A Paranormal Evening With the Moonflower SocietyDeathspell Omega - The Long DefeatAvatarium - Death, Where is Your StingFalls of Rauros - Key to a Vanishing FutureDrudkh - Всі належать ночі (All Belong to the Night)Stratovarius - SurviveWilderun - EpigoneFallujah - EmpyreanAbbath - Dread ReaverEvergrey - A Heartless Portrait: The Orphean TestamentSeven Kingdoms - ZenithSylvaine - NovaElder - Innate Passage

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