Mark Wals
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123 reviews/ratings
MY DYING BRIDE - The Manuscript Doom Metal
BLOOD CEREMONY - The Eldritch Dark Heavy Psych | review permalink
MASTODON - Oblivion EP Sludge Metal | review permalink
CULT OF LUNA - Salvation Atmospheric Sludge Metal
PORCUPINE TREE - Nil Recurring Metal Related
NINE INCH NAILS - Broken Industrial Metal | review permalink
MY DYING BRIDE - The Vaulted Shadows Death-Doom Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath Heavy Metal | review permalink
MORBID ANGEL - Altars of Madness Death Metal | review permalink
KING CRIMSON - VROOOM Non-Metal | review permalink
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY - Animosity Crossover Thrash | review permalink
KING CRIMSON - Thela Hun Ginjeet / Elephant Talk Non-Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - The Thrash of Naked Limbs Death-Doom Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - Bring Me Victory Doom Metal
LEPROUS - Aeolia Progressive Metal | review permalink
CANVAS SOLARIS - Irradiance Progressive Metal
CANVAS SOLARIS - Cortical Tectonics Progressive Metal
CANVAS SOLARIS - Spatial/Design Progressive Metal
ENSLAVED - Hordanes Land Black Metal
BLOOD CEREMONY - Let It Come Down / Loving You Heavy Psych | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Non-Metal 20 3.65
2 Progressive Metal 15 3.80
3 Death-Doom Metal 9 3.67
4 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 7 3.57
5 Sludge Metal 7 3.71
6 Heavy Metal 6 3.50
7 Black Metal 5 3.40
8 Deathcore 4 3.63
9 Thrash Metal 4 3.50
10 Metal Related 4 3.63
11 Stoner Metal 3 3.50
12 Proto-Metal 3 3.83
13 NWoBHM 3 3.50
14 Doom Metal 3 4.17
15 Gothic Metal 3 3.83
16 Crossover Thrash 3 3.33
17 Heavy Psych 3 3.83
18 Alternative Metal 3 3.83
19 Melodic Metalcore 3 3.83
20 Death Metal 2 3.75
21 Atmospheric Black Metal 2 3.50
22 Industrial Metal 2 3.75
23 Hard Rock 2 3.25
24 Heavy Alternative Rock 2 3.00
25 Crust Punk 1 4.00
26 Melodic Black Metal 1 3.50
27 Power Metal 1 3.50
28 Symphonic Metal 1 4.00
29 Traditional Doom Metal 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews


Live album · 1999 · Symphonic Metal
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S&M must be one of the most divisive albums in Metallica's huge discography. Some listeners seem to believe that Metallica has no business playing their most popular songs with a symphony orchestra. I obviously disagree. They're far from the first metal band to try this, but their innovative songwriting makes them more justified in this approach than most. James Hetfield has stated in Ultimate Guitar magazine, and other places, that the idea of combining Metallica with orchestral music started with Cliff Burton. How much, and how open-minded, of a Metallica fan are you? How tolerant are you of the musical experimenting that the band has done since the release of RIDE THE LIGHTNING? I think it makes a difference in the final rating of S&M. If your answer to these questions is "a lot", like me, you should definitely enjoy this album. I disagree with some of the MMA & PA collaborators whose reviews I respect and follow closely. I like James' singing. With all of his acknowledged flaws, I think his voice suits the band's music.

Metallica's setlist here wisely starts with RIDE THE LIGHTNING, when the songwriting began to improve and James began to learn how to sing. When it comes to individual highlights, I love the percussion in the second half of "The Memory Remains". It reminds me of John Adams' HARMONIELEHRE. "Devil's Dance" sounds like its name; it could be the dance before the ritual sacrifice in the soundtrack of an old horror movie. I do agree with the reviewers who write that S&M is too long at over two hours. But I'm a biased Aspie; I think that most albums over 45 minutes are too long! It helps to get the DVD version of this instead of the CD. Unusually, Metallica are a band that still seems to love playing live and getting the audience feedback, and it's apparent on the DVD. I now realize that I'm posting this review in the live album instead of the video section. I enjoyed both formats, but the DVD is really the one to get!

ENSLAVED The Sleeping Gods

EP · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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The Sleeping Gods is one of Enslaved's best releases IMO, because of its variety and innovation. Aren't skill and creativity why we're here at MMA? It shows the band moving into previously unexplored territory. At the same time, it maintains Enslaved's typical high level of composing and performing quality. I give The Sleeping Gods an enthusiastic 4 stars. Enslaved doesn't put out junk, so this whole CD is quite listenable.

For those who aren't as familiar with Enslaved, "Heimvegen" is an fine, representative place to start. However, I'm going with "Nordlys" and "The Sleeping Gods". They strongly demonstrate Enslaved's customary willingness to try new things, which is probably the best thing about this EP. Some of the songs like "Synthesis" drag on a bit, and I wouldn't pick The Sleeping Gods as the first Enslaved CD to listen to. However, it's still an excellent addition to collection, if innovative metal is your cup of tea. thwok | 4/5 | 2014-9-6

MORBID ANGEL Altars of Madness

Album · 1989 · Death Metal
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I rarely listen to death metal; Morbid Angel is the only "old school" death metal band I listen to regularly. I think my very high rating for ALTARS OF MADNESS has something to do with that fact. The creativity and musical skill that the band showed, starting with their first album, places them above almost every other band in the genre IMO. Although I'm far from the first person to say it, major credit has to be given to drummer Pete Sandoval. I can't imagine the skill it takes to play these constantly changing rhythms, even within individual songs.

Some have complained about the sound quality. I listened to ALTARS OF MADNESS on a decent pair of headphones (this is music that definitely requires attentive listening), and had no problems with the sound. Although Morbid Angel may have refined their approach on later albums, that takes nothing away from the brilliance of ALTARS OF MADNESS.


Promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs) · 1999 · Non-Metal
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I consider it a tragedy that these 2 or 3 songs (I would call it 3) were not on the original COMA DIVINE album. The only reason might have been that they wouldn't fit on the CD. Luckily, that problem was rectified with the DELERIUM reissue, where you can hear the studio versions. It obviously has nothing to do with the quality of the songs. This is great music. I would guess that this EP hasn't been reviewed by others because these songs are easily available in other formats. Apparently, these tracks are also part of the COMA DIVINE reissue. I would also guess that a lot of people just don't bother with EP's or singles; I personally prefer 30 or 40 minutes of music. Prog Archives labels Porcupine Tree a "heavy prog" band, which is an apt description. PT hadn't started incorporating a lot of metal into their music yet; that wouldn't happen until a couple of albums later.

I've used up enough words not talking about this music! Anyone who listens to enough Porcupine Tree probably knows these songs, if not these versions, so I won't discuss them at length. I'm rarely effusive in my reviews (or in my life generally), but this live version of "The Moon Touches Your Shoulder" is amazing. The guitar playing is unbelievable. "Always Never" is almost as good. Two considerations prevent me from giving COMA DIVINE II a 5-star rating, which is something I rarely do. First is my opinion that "Up The Downstair", as good as it is, isn't on the same level as the other two songs. The other consideration is the possible low interest level, due to the running time, of this EP for a lot of Porcupine Tree fans. IMHO everyone with an interest in Porcupine Tree would be well served by listening to this.

MY DYING BRIDE A Map of All our Failures

Album · 2012 · Doom Metal
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A Map of All Our Failures is one of MDB"s better efforts IMHO. If you're an MDB fan, which I am without a doubt, everything they've done is at least worth a listen. I particularly like what Aaron Stainthorpe is doing lately, so A Map of All Our Failures is a 4 star album for me.

I like the way that Aaron's singing has developed over time. His bass/baritone has become more expressive and interesting. He has also pretty much done away with the growling. There is a bit of the death metal growling on "The Poorest Waltz", but I don't miss it. I think his lyrics have improved. They used to be mostly a group of violent descriptions of doom and suffering. Now there's more structure. One of my favorite tracks is "Hail Odysseus", which is clearly based on The Odyssey.

The only thing I could think of to complain about is the length of the songs. Eight songs grouped together for a little over an hour's worth of music is a bit much. However, the tempo changes in each song make them more interesting. I wouldn't put MDB's CDs on the greatest albums list, but A Map of All Our Failures is fully worthy of 4 stars.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 7 months ago in Images and Words vs. Somewhere in Time
    Iron Maiden has released more consistently great albums over the years. Dream Theater has released a handful of classics. IMAGES AND WORDS is likely the cream of the crop, so I have to pick it.
  • Posted 1 year ago in MMA's Top 25 60's Albums Poll
    Does it matter whether the album you choose is actually metal, for the purposes of this poll?  King Crimson is my favorite band and IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING is a masterpiece.  You can easily make a case that KC was a proto-metal band at times, but ITCOTCK is not a metal album.
  • Posted 1 year ago in The Top 25: Powerslave
    I just love 2 Minutes to Midnight, a very catchy song.


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