Andyman1125

Andy Webb
MMA Special Collaborator · Honorary Collaborator
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 1 year ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

166 reviews/ratings
DREAM THEATER - Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Images and Words Progressive Metal | review permalink
RUSH - Hemispheres Hard Rock | review permalink
CYNIC - Traced in Air Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence Progressive Metal | review permalink
RUSH - Beyond the Lighted Stage Hard Rock | review permalink
RUSH - Moving Pictures Hard Rock | review permalink
ALCEST - Écailles de lune Atmospheric Black Metal | review permalink
KING CRIMSON - Larks' Tongues In Aspic Proto-Metal
KARNIVOOL - Sound Awake Alternative Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Live Scenes From New York Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Progressive Metal
SWANS - The Seer Non-Metal
HAKEN - Aquarius Progressive Metal | review permalink
CHIMP SPANNER - At the Dream's Edge Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - A Change of Seasons Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra Progressive Metal | review permalink
AGALLOCH - The Mantle Folk Metal
TRIVIUM - Shogun Metalcore
SYMPHONY X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy Progressive Metal

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 75 3.87
2 Metalcore 14 3.39
3 Metal Related 9 3.89
4 Non-Metal 7 3.07
5 Alternative Metal 7 3.79
6 Hard Rock 7 4.43
7 Power Metal 6 3.50
8 Avant-garde Metal 5 4.10
9 Traditional heavy metal 5 3.00
10 Symphonic Metal 4 3.75
11 Technical Death Metal 4 2.75
12 Thrash Metal 3 4.17
13 Death Metal 3 4.00
14 Deathcore 3 3.17
15 Folk Metal 2 4.25
16 Groove Metal 2 3.00
17 Atmospheric Black Metal 2 4.00
18 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2 3.75
19 Proto-Metal 2 4.75
20 Sludge Metal 1 4.00
21 Nu Metal 1 3.50
22 Industrial Metal 1 2.50
23 Mathcore 1 3.00

Latest Albums Reviews

SOT Kind of Saltz

Album · 2011 · Avant-garde Metal
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Any band takes a risk when they experiment with music. Music, an art that has been tested in nearly every way, shape, form, and style in nearly every conception of the human imagination, never ceases to transform itself in the face of the listener. So, when any band takes the common understanding of rock music and starts to play with it, my first reaction is to take the music with a grain of salt (small pun). However, luckily the Norwegian band SOT (short for "Salt of Tusj," these guys seem to like salt), their experimentation with avant-garde structures is easily digestible. The band's debut, Kind of Saltz, is an eclectic blend of many different styles mashed together tastefully to make a very interesting album from this young band of talented musicians. The band, formed of three experienced Norwegian musicians, a guitarist, a drummer, and, uniquely, a tubist, effortlessly combine the three guys' many influences, ranging from jazz to folk to metal to pop to much more in between to make a very unique sound. At first glance the music seemed to be a combination of the dissonant ferocity of Orthrelm, the aggressive and avant tendencies of Koenjihyakkei, and some jazzy folk artist that I haven't discovered yet. Further inspection led me to discover a bit of influence from Zu, Univers Zero, and other avant flavors. But of course the music has sounds that personally I have yet to put my finger on where it came from. The widely eclectic and experimental style certainly keeps the listener on edge, and, on top of the all-encompassing sound, the band seems to have an almost attention deficit, as they switch from theme to theme as if with the breeze. The emphasis on complexity and odd time signatures makes the music a little difficult to keep track of, but overall the fast-paced action of the beat and instrumental agility makes it a nice joy ride.

With a tubist in the band, it's hard to not almost focus entirely upon the "odd" instrument in the mix. Indeed, the low-tuned brass is prevalent in many parts of the album, giving a great dynamic to the already diverse sound. While the brass bass is not always there, Lars Andreas Haug is always present in some form, whether in trumpet form, vocals, or indeed lending the signature low-end grumble of his tuba. Of course the rest of the band is in no way not present either! Skjalg Reithaug's intuitive and creative guitar lines create a fantastic harmony with Haug's varying instrumental contributions, and Anders Hunstad's rhythmic contributions to the album create the quintessential backbone to the entire album. One thing I always like to hear in an album is when each member truly has a quintessential role in the formation of the music on the album, and that quality is certainly present on Kind of Saltz.

Overall, I was very pleased by this album. It goes without saying that three professional musicians with nearly (if not over) 20 years' experience in the music industry will carry a degree of professionality in their recording and composing. While at times the music may seem quirky, the guys still keep it together instrumentally, melodically, and technically. The songs are well-arranged, tight, and extremely well-performed, displaying a strong sense of diversity and innovation. Away from all the technical critique, the album was a blast to explore, and hosts a myriad of multifaceted dynamics for the listener to discover. Whether a particular harmony between instruments is put together in a genius way or a whole swath of arrangements just fits perfectly, the album is chock full of many great moments put together very well in a cohesive and pleasurable way. 4 stars.

METALLICA Lulu (with Lou Reed)

Album · 2011 · Traditional heavy metal
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To many Metallica seemed to be a dead horse the moment the band released their eighth studio album St. Anger in 2003. The amateur production, undeveloped and raunchy compositions, and overall rather, well, bad album seemed to signal the death of the once most popular metal band in the world. Band tensions were at an all-time high, and the band seemed to be on the verge of dissolution. Yet, the band returned in 2008 with the significantly better Death Magnetic. The album signaled the apparent return to their thrash metal riffs, and while the songs on the album were not as progressive or forward thinking as some on their earlier albums, the album was decisively not bad. When the band announced in 2011 that they were to be collaborating with legendary experimental artist Lou Reed, understandably many fans were rather frightened at the prospect. The two famous musicians, Lou Reed and Metallica as a whole, are very well known not only for their strong headed beliefs but also their general jerk-ish nature. While other similarities may have made it seem as the collaboration might have had some lick of potential, the interesting pairing was bound to have issues. Lou Reed, who is just about 70 years old, is certainly in no position to start making music with a famous metal band. Metallica, whose strong headedness and desire to not care about anyone else in the music business, was not exactly in the position to make music with this 70 year old musician. Nevertheless, LULU was made. The LULU project was an interesting concept to say the least. The album is a double concept album based off the drama of the same name by playwright Frank Wedekind. Reed was allowed to lead the vocal output as well as write all the lyrics. What emerged was the single "The View." The song was abrasive, to say the least. Reed's more "elderly" voice recites his amateurish "poetry" in a spoken word style over Metallica's thrash metal based riffs. The riffs weren't the most creative the band's ever produced, and Reed's choppy vocal work made the whole song entirely humorous. This laughable effort made me, as well as most critics and fans, very worried about the overall release.

The listener's trepidations were answered on Halloween 2011 with the official album release. The 80+ minute album was a true pain to endure through. Reed's vocal performance on "The View" is sadly one of the best on the album, with his vocal work on "Brandenburg Gate" and "Cheat on Me" being especially horrendous. I must say if I begin to laugh hysterically at any body of music that is meant to be released entirely seriously is not a good sign. The awkward, badly coordinated and uncomfortable don't aid this either. While the music behind the awkward vocals as well as James Hetfield's strong backing vocals are overall "good," I really can't take Lou Reed's chanting seriously.

Somehow I can see how the band seemed to enjoy making this album. The music they wrote is not bad. It has that thrash flair that was present on Death Magnetic and is overall quite good for the classic thrash band. They obviously still have somewhat of an experimental bone in them, and what they heard of Lou Reed's dissonant screeching must have impressed them somehow. Also, I can see that they thought it might have been cool to stick to the music industry with this album. Somehow they succeeded in not only drawing me in to the album but getting it and listening to it a number of times, despite the fact that I hated near every listen. There is a point where "avant-garde" and "experimental" becomes "terrible" and "pointless," and this album has for sure crossed that threshold by many miles.

There's not much more to say on Metallica's tenth studio album. The album, pointlessly running at over 87 minutes, is spread over two discs and is a laborious listen the whole way through. Each song has something hysterical to laugh at, and usually its Reed's warbling spoken word vocals. The album also features a few "epics," most notably the pointlessly long 19-minute drone piece "Junior Dad," which really ends at 3 minutes yet continues on for another 16 minutes in a vindictive rant of droney strings, Reed's occasionally haunting wolf moan, occasional actual music, and an overall pointless run of ambient mush. In the end, LULU has shown itself to be Metallica's most controversial release yet, and it doesn't tilt in their favor. 1 star.

KARNIVOOL Sound Awake

Album · 2009 · Alternative Metal
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Anyone with the desire to peruse the progressive hard rock genre can see a clear dichotomy in the genre. On one side is the classic 70s sound, with thick Hammond swaths, overdriven guitar riffs, and a blues-rock based sound. On the other side is the more modern style, made up of the post-hardcore, punk, alt-metal, and other "modern" heavy rock bands that dabble in more progressive styles, most notable Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta. While both constitute "heavy" prog, it's almost amusing how different the two styles can be. Karnivool rose out of a Perth-based garage band formed by singer Ian Kenny in the late 90s. The band initially played a quite standard form of the nu-metal which had exploded over the past decade. The band, which gradually evolved over the years, released first the Persona EP in 2001, then the Themata LP in 2005, both displaying their rather average brand of alt metal. Finally, around 2008 something snapped. With the addition of Steve Judd on drums and John Stockman on bass, the band suddenly seemed driven to experiment with their sound. The masterful product of their mind-opening music adventure was their 2009 opus Sound Awake.

The sound of this album is hard to explain outright. The band, in their four year rest period from Themata, had obviously dabbled in countless different genres, ranging from atmospheric post rock and metal, jazz fusion, some kind of bass-heavy music, progressive metal, Porcupine Tree-esque psych-flavored hard rock and metal, and countless other experimental and progressive styles. On top of this, the quintet's chemistry as a compositional team exploded, as the album's fluidity and ease of transitions is expressed with ultimate grace constantly throughout the 75+ minute album. The crystal clear production and spot-on musicianship shines through the quintet's obvious passion and desire in their music. The harmonies, communication, and liquid nature of the music is perfect. Whether they are gently floating down melodically dense passages, cruising through aggressive sections of near metallic fury, the band is accurate in every attempt they make at composition.

Similar to the majestic Australian countryside, Sound Awake takes the listener on a musical journey, travelling across Outback plains of sand and stone, cityscape vistas of metropolitan chaos, and oceanic masses of majestic beauty. With dynamic like the beauteous soundscapes and post-rock inspired "New Day," the fast-paced and ferocious "Set Fire to the Hive," the epic grandeur of the 20-minute duo of "Deadman" and "Change," and every delicious second that lies out and in between, this album certainly has its share of masterful beauty. And while the band has technically been around for over a decade, this sophomore release certainly shows the band's alarming amount of maturity in music.

Speechlessness is most likely my first reaction on a simple perusal listen of the album. At first I thought a 76 minute album by this (at the time) unknown Australian band may have been a bit too daunting for one digestion, but I was quickly proven wrong by this breathtaking album. The consistent quality, constant pleasure, and commanding masterfulness of the album make it easily one of the best new releases by one of the "modern" heavy prog band. While at the time of this review's authorship Karnivool have yet to release a new album, many are eagerly awaiting more of this delicious formula, and understandably so. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

X-PANDA Flight of Fancy

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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The flight of a lifetime

X-Panda is a very new band to emerge on to the already crowded progressive metal scene. Hailing from Estonia, a country not necessarily synonymous with metal or prog, the band seems to have declared their duty to forge their own path in the music world. Armed with professional music education and the drive to make some of the most well-crafted prog metal on this side of the multiverse, the band certainly has made quite a hit with their debut full length album Flight of Fancy. As jazz fans as well as metal fans, the band has encapsulated a love of melody within a love of technicality and metal. The glorious 70 minute album is comprised of eleven (or more accurately ten, not counting the intro) contains easily some of the best prog metal released in many years, with the mostly instrumental music reaching sonic heights not often reached by even the more established bands. The melodically dense music sends the listener on a fantastic journey, which is a feat for any band, never mind a young, yet-unestablished band. X-Panda seems to know what they’re doing and yet they’ve just begun.

It’s not often that I’ll find a metal album that has a heavier (excuse the pun) emphasis on melody than it does on the “metal” aspect of the music, that is the crunching riffs, intense atmosphere, hard-hitting drumming, etcetera. X-Panda seems to have the “lighter” route, with songs noodling around delicate lines of melody and wonderfully orchestrated harmonic sections between the four instrumentalists. I really love how the drums work equally with the guitar, bass, and keyboards as a definite aspect of the music, weaving in and out of melodically-based rhythms and, as noted in the liner notes, Gavin Harrison-esque “rhythmic illusions,” with sections seemingly in 4/4 actually being in triplet form of 12/8, polyrhythms of 7/8 feeling like perfect 4/4 until the perfect “unsynchronized” moment, and so on. While of course there were sections of the album where riffs dominated the music, these tend to not only be the weaker points of album but are also quite scarce across the entire play time.

Easily the best quality of the entire album is the joyful and ethereal quality the solos and melody take on in their context in the songs. Especially on the songs “Dickybirds” and the title track, the melody seems to become alive within the song, exploring new sonic depths not only due to the clean and well-done production, but because of their very nature of pure music. In the context of jazz-fusion tinged prog metal, such a style, especially on the piano, truly shines through and makes the album that much brighter.

In the end, X-Panda’s debut album Flight of Fancy will easily go down as one of the better prog metal releases of the decade. Although through 70 minutes the songs begin to seem to blend into one near indistinguishable song (with obvious reprieves of memorable and distinct tracks), the album still holds its own right as a wonderful melodic journey. Of course the obvious influences can be derived from the music, with guitar solo structures and arrangements often having strong similarities to one Mr. John Petrucci and other typical progressive metal influences. However, these barely hinder the fact that the band has compiled a truly wonderful collection of ten (full length) songs for the listener’s enjoyment - and enjoy it I did. 4 stars.

CALIGULA'S HORSE Colossus

EP · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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Short in stature, colossal in depth

Caligula’s Horse is a young Australian Progressive Metal band founded in early 2011. The band was originally intended to be Quandary guitarist Sam Valen’s solo project, until he found vocalist Jim Grey whose powerful voice fitted Valen’s fresh prog metal music quite wonderfully. The duo’s debut album Moments from the Ephemeral City contained about 40 minutes of truly delicious and quite fresh-sounding prog metal takes, so when the duo recruited a full band and recorded two new tracks with the new lineup pointed towards release as an EP and as bonus tracks on the physical release of the band’s debut, I was excited. I was not disappointed. The two-track EP Colossus only runs a short 10 or so minutes, but the two tracks host a wealth of creative spirit, exciting styles, and inventive sounds.

The short EP contains the title track and the song “Vanishing Rites (Tread Softly Little One).” The EP is much the same style as the preceding full length, with adventurous, dynamic, and diverse sounds all melding into a continuous stream of powerful and very progressive metal. Grey’s strong voice perfectly accentuates Valen and Zac Greensil’s well-placed guitar playing, and Dave Couper and Geoff Irish, bassist and drummer respectively, hold down a wonderful rhythm for the entire band to play around. Now a full band, the EP is also less guitar-centric, with the bass and drums both being much more prevalent in the mix, which makes the music sound much more full and embellished. The diversity of the music is also very much present, with the frequent shifting from mellow melodic rock to happy-go-lucky near-shuffle-esque “metal” to djent-inspired prog metal riff sessions - all of which are quite wonderful for the ears.

The Colossus EP, the second release from this young and promising Australian progressive metal band has blown me away in much the same way the band’s debut album did - the guys in the band have made it quite obvious that they are chock full of creative talent, compositional know-how, and the ability to produce a kick-ass album. The two tracks are dripping with some of the better modern progressive metal to emerge from the scene in the last few years. I can see this band becoming one of the “big ones” in the near future. Highly recommended. 4 stars.

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