J-Man

Jeff
MMA Special Collaborator · Honorary Collaborator
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 6 months ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

573 reviews/ratings
PAIN OF SALVATION - The Perfect Element, Part 1 Progressive Metal | review permalink
PAIN OF SALVATION - BE Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory Progressive Metal | review permalink
DEATH - Symbolic Technical Death Metal
EDGE OF SANITY - Crimson Melodic Death Metal
NIGHTINGALE - The Closing Chronicles Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Images and Words Progressive Metal | review permalink
OPETH - Still Life Progressive Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - Scarsick Progressive Metal | review permalink
HAKEN - Aquarius Progressive Metal | review permalink
SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD - Five Deadly Venoms Progressive Metal | review permalink
FAITH NO MORE - Angel Dust Alternative Metal | review permalink
FEN - Epoch Atmospheric Black Metal | review permalink
THE LAST THINGS - Circles And Butterflies Progressive Metal | review permalink
DEATH - Human Technical Death Metal | review permalink
WOLVERINE - Communication Lost Progressive Metal | review permalink
FOR ALL WE KNOW - For All We Know Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - A Dramatic Turn of Events Progressive Metal | review permalink
ARCH / MATHEOS - Sympathetic Resonance Progressive Metal | review permalink
BURZUM - Hvis Lyset Tar Oss Atmospheric Black Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 111 3.91
2 Death Metal 95 3.31
3 Black Metal 49 3.20
4 Power Metal 34 3.41
5 Thrash Metal 29 3.24
6 Melodic Death Metal 22 3.64
7 Hard Rock 18 3.00
8 Grindcore 17 2.62
9 Atmospheric Black Metal 17 3.85
10 Traditional heavy metal 16 3.38
11 Brutal Death Metal 15 2.90
12 Technical Death Metal 14 3.96
13 Deathcore 13 2.31
14 Doom Metal 12 3.25
15 Metalcore 10 3.45
16 Sludge Metal 9 3.22
17 Avant-garde Metal 9 3.50
18 Folk Metal 8 3.63
19 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 7 3.79
20 Gothic Metal 7 3.07
21 Melodic Black Metal 6 3.92
22 Industrial Metal 6 2.67
23 Non-Metal 5 3.60
24 Symphonic Metal 5 4.10
25 US Power Metal 4 3.63
26 NWoBHM 4 3.88
27 Groove Metal 4 3.13
28 Alternative Metal 4 4.38
29 Funk Metal 3 3.33
30 Death-Doom Metal 3 4.00
31 Hardcore and crust 3 3.33
32 Symphonic Black Metal 3 3.17
33 Proto-Metal 2 3.25
34 Crossover Thrash 2 3.75
35 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50
36 Depressive Black Metal 1 4.00
37 Glam Metal 1 1.00
38 Speed Metal 1 3.50
39 Stoner Metal 1 3.00
40 Metal Related 1 4.00
41 Mathcore 1 2.50

Latest Albums Reviews

MEADOWS END The Sufferwell

Album · 2014 · Melodic Death Metal
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Like many other "sub-subgenres" in metal, symphonic death metal has tons of untapped potential in my view. Though a couple fleshy bands like Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse have garnered a fanbase for this style of music, it has yet to see the same level of fertility and diversity as the symphonic variant of black metal, for instance. Enter Meadows End, a band from Sweden that has been active since the late nineties', but only began releasing full-length albums with 2010's Ode to Quietus. While they can easily be labeled symphonic death metal alongside the aforementioned fleshy bands, Meadows End is a bit unique in their approach. Meadows End's foundation borrows heavily from melodic, and even progressive, death metal - something that hasn't been fully explored in a symphonic death metal context, perhaps other than by the Netherlands' Mayan. This unique approach to a criminally underpopulated subgenre is placed alongside brilliant songwriting and delivery on 2014's The Sufferwell, and the result is nothing short of astounding.

In many ways, the music on The Sufferwell reminds me of Finland's Omnium Gatherum - while perhaps more aggressive than these Finnish masterminds, the entire record has a melancholic and atmospheric vibe, rather than the dark and evil mindset typically associated with death metal. This works excellently in a symphonic context, and the fact that Meadows End also knows how to craft some damn catchy compositions makes this a winner on all fronts. Though the strongest tracks here (in my view, at least) are the most progressive ones like the stunningly epic "Insurrection" and the fist-pumping "Masses Flee", this is a record of all killer, no filler. Great melodeath tunes like "Devilspeed Loathekill" or "Funeral of a Porcelain Doll", as well as the beautiful female-led folk song "Under A Canopy of Stars", showcase the band's strengths in more conventional songwriting.

Meadows End are the real deal when it comes to epic, symphonic, and melodic death metal - don't be fooled by The Sufferwell's self-released status, as this is a fully professional sounding album with some top-shelf musicianship to boot. I really hope fans of bands like Omnium Gatherum, Septicflesh, Xanthochroid, and Insomnium take the time to check this one out, as it is one of the strongest albums that I've heard in 2014. A true hidden gem!

ARKAN Sofia

Album · 2014 · Folk Metal
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With their 2011 observation entitled Salam, French metal act Arkan impressed me with their ability to follow many melodic death metal conventions, while still incorporating a Middle Eastern flair that is largely unheard of in this genre. The result was an album that felt familiar enough to instantly click with its listener, but also broke enough rules to leave a lasting impression. 2014's Sofia, the band's third full-length, follows down the same path of its predecessor, though I would argue that Arkan sounds even more unique this time around.

Like Salam, Sofia's main selling point is its Middle Eastern-influenced approach to metal, and although other acts like Orphaned Land and Myrath have similar gimmicks, Arkan sounds unique even when placed next to their stylistic brethren. Sofia is also perhaps the band's most adventurous album to date - the melodic death metal part of the band's sound only sparsely appears here, and it seems as though the band is now playing a Middle Eastern-inspired brand of gothic metal, rather than melodeath. Death growls are used sparingly, and the focal point here is the distinct and angelic performance of vocalist Sarah Layssac. Consequently, Sofia lacks some of the "bite" that impressed me on Salam, but it is also the band's most mature and stylistically consistent album to date.

Whether you enjoy Sofia more or less than Arkan's previous outings ultimately depends on your preferences. If you are a gothic metal fan looking for a unique foray into the genre, Sofia will undoubtedly impress you, but if you (like me) were more into the band's melodeath-focused tracks, this may leave you a bit unsatisfied. Regardless of your preferences, however, there's no doubt that this is a well-performed, well-produced, and extremely catchy album from Arkan. Recommended!

ILLDISPOSED With the Lost Souls on Our Side

Album · 2014 · Death Metal
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Like many other veteran Scandinavian melodic death metal bands, Denmark's flagship act Illdisposed has evolved quite a bit in its twenty-plus year history. Though Illdisposed's early records reek of raw, old school brutality, the band's newer albums have a much more polished, groove-oriented style that takes plenty of cues from modern trends in death metal and metalcore. 2014's With The Lost Souls On Our Side, their twelfth full-length studio album, is a strong outing with enough mosh-inducing grooves to satisfy most extreme metal listeners, even if it has a different audience in mind than Illdisposed's classic nineties' albums did.

If you've kept an eye on modern thrash bands like Legion of the Damned and Dew-Scented, the sound of With The Lost Souls On Our Side shouldn't come as a total surprise. While still death metal at its core, the album relies heavily on thrashy grooves with touches of melody thrown in to keep things interesting. With a crisp production and polished musicianship to top it off, this is a very 'modern' sounding album that may not appease old school death metal purists, but for listeners that take a liking to contemporary thrash riffage, With The Lost Souls On Our Side has plenty to offer. Though not many tracks stand out from the crowd, all ten are solid enough to warrant a decent amount of headbanging.

I suppose my biggest gripe with this album is just how familiar it feels from start to finish. Though it isn't derivative enough to strip it of all merits, Illdisposed doesn't do anything here that hasn't been heard before, and as such, it's hard to give this record a strong recommendation to anyone that doesn't already follow the band. Still, this is a well-played, well-produced, and generally well-written observation that fans of modern death metal certainly won't regret hearing. This isn't the must-hear 2014 death metal album that Behemoth released earlier in the year, but it's certainly not anything to scoff at either.

AMBERIAN DAWN Magic Forest

Album · 2014 · Symphonic Metal
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Finland's Amberian Dawn is not a band that I've followed in the past, but it's my understanding that 2014's Magic Forest is an important album in their discography. As their first album of wholly original material without longtime vocalist Heidi Parviainen, Magic Forest serves as a proving ground for new singer Capri. Though she has previous experience in the music industry, her presence in Amberian Dawn marks her first appearance as a frontwoman in a metal group - and even though I'm currently unable to compare Capri to her predecessor, I know that she does a damn good job on Magic Forest.

As a matter of fact, I would say that she even elevates this record from a fairly average symphonic metal outing to something worth hearing for fans of the genre. Comparisons to bands like Epica, Within Temptation, and Nightwish are inevitable when listening to Magic Forest, but Capri's powerful and "rock-inspired" vocal performance serves as a nice contrast from the more operatic styles heard from popular frontwomen like Simone Simons or Tarja Turunen. The music itself is well-written and meticulously arranged, though nothing totally stands out to my ears. While catchy enough, Magic Forest doesn't pack the same punch that recent Epica outings have (perhaps because of this album's general lack of aggression and preference for mid-tempo grooves) and doesn't stand out enough from the crowd to make for a stunning observation.

That being said, Amberian Dawn have absolutely put together a solid collection of tunes for Magic Forest, and fans of symphonic metal will find plenty to enjoy here. As a well-produced, well-performed, and catchy album that features some truly terrific vocals, Magic Forest has enough going for it to warrant a listen from fans and newcomers alike.

SCARS DIVIDE Scars Divide

EP · 2014 · Metalcore
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Between the Buried and Me have proven over the past decade-plus that fusing devastating metalcore grooves with prog-styled intricacies can yield extremely interesting results, but on the whole, I feel that the 'progressive metalcore' label still has plenty of untapped potential. Though other acclaimed acts like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Born of Osiris, and The Contortionist have also approached 'core' music with a progressive mindset, it's my opinion that this niche subgenre has yet to experience the widespread creative explosion heard in the progressive variants of death or black metal. And it's a real shame, as promising young acts like Switzerland's Scars Divide prove that aggressive, punchy metalcore grooves can lend themselves really nicely to technically demanding, structurally progressive, and surprisingly melodic compositions.

With this self-titled EP from early 2014, Scars Divide hit the gates running with a professional production, extremely competent musicianship, and a general knack for crafting tracks with a true sense of momentum. The band rarely falls into the 'breakdown' trap that kills a number of otherwise decent metalcore releases for me, but even when they do utilize down-tempo djenty grooves, it serves as a way of adding aggression to the piece rather than interrupting already existent momentum. Tracks like "Salt, Ice, and Fire" also feature some really strong melodic touches, and although the EP only clocks in at under 28 minutes, there is enough diversity here to make for a fully satisfying listening experience.

Scars Divide is an impressive debut statement from front to back, and it really makes me curious to hear what these guys will offer when it comes time to release a full-length album. With an EP this promising and professional sounding, one can only predict that Scars Divide have some cool tricks up their sleeves. This one is recommended to fans of groovy and progressive metalcore!

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