Kev Rowland

Kev Rowland
MMA Special Collaborator · Errors & Omissions Team
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 2 days ago

Favorite Metal Artists

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283 reviews/ratings
ENSLAVED - RIITIIR Progressive Metal | review permalink
SYLOSIS - Monolith Thrash Metal | review permalink
RIVERSIDE - Shrine of New Generation Slaves Metal Related | review permalink
SOILWORK - The Living Infinite Melodic Death Metal | review permalink
NEAL MORSE - Live Momentum Non-Metal | review permalink
HYPOCRISY - End Of Disclosure Melodic Death Metal | review permalink
AVANTASIA - The Mystery of Time Traditional heavy metal | review permalink
DARK SERMON - In Tongues Deathcore | review permalink
SPIRITUAL BEGGARS - Earth Blues Hard Rock | review permalink
BLACK STAR RIDERS - All Hell Breaks Loose Hard Rock | review permalink
STALA & SO. - Play Another Round Glam Metal | review permalink
VANDROYA - One Power Metal | review permalink
ORPHANED LAND - All Is One Folk Metal | review permalink
HYPOCRISY - Penetralia / Osculum Obscenum Death Metal | review permalink
8 FOOT SATIVA - The Shadow Masters Thrash Metal | review permalink
LINGUA MORTIS ORCHESTRA - LMO Symphonic Metal | review permalink
WE CAME AS ROMANS - Tracing Back Roots Metalcore | review permalink
WATAIN - The Wild Hunt Black Metal | review permalink
HAKEN - The Mountain Progressive Metal | review permalink
DROTTNAR - Stratum Black Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 40 3.98
2 Hard Rock 35 3.69
3 Black Metal 29 3.74
4 Traditional heavy metal 28 3.59
5 Power Metal 22 3.64
6 Death Metal 21 3.90
7 Thrash Metal 18 3.92
8 Doom Metal 9 3.72
9 Alternative Metal 7 3.71
10 Symphonic Metal 7 3.71
11 Metalcore 7 3.79
12 Melodic Death Metal 7 4.50
13 Deathcore 6 4.08
14 Glam Metal 4 4.13
15 Atmospheric Black Metal 4 4.00
16 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 4 3.38
17 Metal Related 4 5.00
18 Groove Metal 4 3.88
19 US Power Metal 4 3.75
20 Melodic Black Metal 3 3.50
21 Gothic Metal 3 3.33
22 Folk Metal 3 4.33
23 Non-Metal 2 4.50
24 Sludge Metal 2 2.25
25 Speed Metal 2 3.25
26 Technical Death Metal 2 4.25
27 NWoBHM 1 3.00
28 Industrial Metal 1 4.00
29 Avant-garde Metal 1 3.00
30 Brutal Death Metal 1 4.00
31 Crossover Thrash 1 3.50
32 Death 'n' Roll 1 2.50

Latest Albums Reviews

EPICA The Holographic Principle

Album · 2016 · Symphonic Metal
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I can’t put my finger on it, but there is definitely something that lifts this 2016 album to a higher plane than the one that came out just two years earlier. The intensity is still at the very high level, but Simone seems to be more in control on this one, as opposed to sometimes being swept away. It is bombastic, it is massively over the top, and the guitars have reined in just ever so slightly, although at times they still race off like bolting horses that have been given their heads. It is an overpowering aural assault on the senses, and I love it. The closest way I can think of describing it is like being at a version of Handel’s “Messiah” with full choir and orchestra, but with Slipknot also being involved!

I was playing these two albums back to back the other day, and even without looking I knew when this one had started as there is a definite lift, a step up in just about everything. Symphonic over the top progressive metal just doesn’t get any better than this. This is not something that can be played as background music, but rather demands full attention of the listener at all times, as this is all-consuming, and not for the fainthearted. I really do hope that the guys decided to come down to this part of the world for a show one day, as they must be incredible in concert. This is essential, nothing more, nothing less.

EPICA The Quantum Enigma

Album · 2014 · Symphonic Metal
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here is one word to describe this 2014 album that rises clearly above all others, “Intensity”. The production on this album seems to have brought everything together at the highest volume possible, so much so that the listener is quite drained by all of it. Singer Simone Simons has a quite stunning voice, but to be honest she is sometimes drained out by the choir and also by the rest of the band so that she actually loses some of the impact. This is a real shame, as the album as a whole is an incredible piece of work, much more metallic than the band to which they are most often compared, Nightwish, with the twin guitars locked in and riffing hard. They are also more downtuned and there is the feeling that this a guitar based-band first and foremost, as opposed to keyboard-based. Of course, Epica have a second singer in Mark Jansen who favours death growls as opposed to the ‘proper’ singing of Marco Hietala, so there is a very different feel between the two acts.

In many ways I actually prefer Epica, as the intensity is palpable: here is a band that are all firing on all cylinders, rushing to the end, taking no prisoners. Sure, I would have preferred to have Simone’s vocals higher in the mix, but perhaps I’m being just a little picky? This is a symphonic metal band who concentrate on the latter more than the former, and that’s just fine with me.Yes, they slow it down here and there, but it is when they are at full gallop with the band playing hard and the choir singing their hearts out, and Simone striving to rise above it all, that they are at their very best.

DYNFARI The Four Doors of the Mind

Album · 2017 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Dynfari plays black metal influenced, heavily atmospheric music, and since their formation as a duo in 2010 this Icelandic has grown to become a full band. Their music shifts and moves between many different styles, and this their fourth album is also a concept, and one that so much thought has gone into it that the only way to explain it is to allow singer and guitarist Jóhann Örn do so himself.

“It would be a cliché to say that this album is a journey. But it explores a subject that's been an inspiration to countless heavy metal lyrics. Though here, instead of depicting pain, madness and death as something ugly or morbid, it is construed as something beautiful and important. Some would say that it's counter-intuitive that the first half of the album includes the most obvious black metal influences, while that part deals with the doors of sleep and forgetting, while the more mellow, beautiful second half is about madness and death. But it is quite logical and intentional. While sleep and forgetting are the first reactions to pain, sometimes they are not enough, and pain is still thriving. In such circumstances, it is not until you reach the doors of madness and death where you will ultimately find peace.

The last song of the album exemplifies this, where at first it seems as if death is something eerie or even scary, but it is then accepted and welcomed as something beautiful and inevitable. There is nothing to fear in a state of bliss and peace. This song actually used to have the working title "Geislun" ("Radiation") which is a concept closely related to illness and death, making sense in relation to the idea of acceptance of one's fate and in that process finding calmness through it.

Of course, the core of these ideas on the album's concept are not mine, but a combination of two sources. Firstly, the poetry of early 20th century Icelandic existentialist Jóhann Sigurjónsson, and secondly contemporary fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss' theory put forth in his novel "The Name of the Wind". Coincidentally, the archaic word "Dynfari" is a name for wind or storm. Furthermore, the Icelandic poet Jóhann Sigurjónsson has the same first and last name as myself. Seeing the similarities in comparing his poetry to the idea in Rothfuss' book, it just seemed too much of a coincidence not to do anything with it. The music we were creating at the time was very much in tune with these musings and heavily related to my personal state of mind. So, as I was finding it difficult to relate my own writing at the time to our music, this seemed to fit so perfectly that it was impossible to let it go.

Some might ask what makes an Icelandic man in his 20s to want to dabble in writings about pain and devote his music to the subject. The truth of the matter is that I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and as a by-product of it and its treatments I have endured pains that some medical experts describe as more painful than childbirth. I am quite healthy now, having found the right balance between three different kinds of medication. But I have found it difficult to not relate my music creation somehow to this fact and the philosophical mind games it induces. Even in the wake of intense pain, it is the battle against your mind that is the most challenging one. The battle for positivity is a constant one - and it is just a little bit funny that one of the most successful strategies on that battlefield, I've found, is accepting your fears, accepting your fate, and believing that while the current situation may be beyond bloody shitty and intense, there is ultimately peace to be found. It is the only thing that is certain. No matter what.”

It is a mesmerising album, full of depths and hidden layers in the music alone, before one starts considering the lyrical backdrop to all of it. There are small incidentals within the album, which refreshes the ears – cleansing the musical palette, before the band are back at full force. This lightness provides real contrast to the darkness either side, which reinforces the power and presence of the rest of the material. The combination of the two writers' thoughts is embodied in the union of the drive of black metal with more traditional soundscapes of acoustic guitar, accordion, flute and bouzouki.

If you are a fan of atmospheric black metal then this is essential.

THE CHARM THE FURY The Sick, Dumb & Happy

Album · 2017 · Metalcore
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Four years on from their 2013 debut, Dutch band The Charm And The Fury are back with an angry record driven by a collective distaste for the state of the planet in the 21st Century. This is metal, straightforward brutal metal, obviously influenced by Pantera, driven by a female singer who has obviously been influenced by Angela Gossow more than she has by Doro, but can also sing sweetly when she wants to. The music comes at the listener like waves of heavy leaden slabs, but with loads of energy and passion, and a great deal of melody behind it. They may not be quite as poppy as The Wildhearts, but they have an instinctive understanding of what makes a song truly interesting and inviting.

There is a groove to this album that makes the body want to move, and a heaviness that makes the listener to keep wanting to push the volume up to 11. Drummer Mathijs Tieken is one of the most exciting talents I have heard in some time, and he drives the band forward with strong double bass drums when the mood is right, but also understand the need for restraint and adds to the overall sound by being punishing when he needs to be, but also provides the light to really demonstrate the shade.

The rest of the guys lock into that power, and combine to produce a metallic monster that many singers would fail in front of, but Caroline Westendorp is more than capable of taking this in her stride. The result is a modern metallic masterpiece, and if these guys can reproduce this on the live stage then they must be a band worth seeing.

VANGOUGH Warpaint

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
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I can’t remember how we first got in touch, but singer/guitarist Clay Withrow and I have been in contact since the time of their stunning debut ‘Manikin Parade’ some eight years ago, and I have been fortunate enough to hear all their albums, of which this new release is their fifth. The first thing I noticed is that the rabbit is back, having been on the front of their third album ‘Kingdom of Ruin’, and the EP ‘Acoustic Scars’ (where he was joined with the raven from the debut). But here he seems to be way more menacing, ready for the battle that is coming as suggested by the album title. Vangough are quite a rarity in the prog field, in that firstly they are a prog metal band without a keyboard player, but also, they are a trio. Now, that’s not too uncommon in some ways, as often a trio will double up on instruments in the studio, but while Clay may have put a few guitars on the same track, all we are getting are drums (Kyle Haws), bass (Jeren Martins), guitar and vocals. Before I get into the music I must also comment on the production, which is superb. There is real separation in the music, and songs such as “The Suffering” just blow away the listener with the move from gentle acoustic notes that have been plucked and gently fade to hard riffing. It is also great to be able to clearly hear the bass and drums, and the impact they are having on the song structures. This isn’t a wall of mud turned up loud, this is finesse played with skill and care.

They have been cutting their teeth in the live environment, and it comes through on this album as it is easy to imagine all those songs moving well onto a stage. After a raucous performance at the annual ProgPower USA music festival in 2014, they set out on their first North American tour with Pain of Salvation and the following year with Fates Warning. The learnings they have taken from these tours have been invaluable, and (nearly) forgives them the four years it took from ‘Between the Madness’ to this one. Here we have a prog metal band with technical influences that aren’t afraid to shift tack quite abruptly within a song, and to be punishingly heavy when it is required or more quiet and reflective as the mood takes them.

I have been playing this album a lot since I first had the opportunity to hear it, and although I’ve never been a fan of a rock band fading out a song (as on the aforementioned “The Suffering”), it does lead into the very different “Gravity” which goes from gentle into a Muse-inspired belter so I think I’ll forgive them. I gave their debut five stars as I was so incredibly impressed, and now is the time to do the same again. Awesome. Why not pop over to https://vangough.bandcamp.com/album/warpaint and give it a listen, I know you’ll agree.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Ministry 'Work for love' and other things
    [QUOTE=UMUR]You are welcome to retag and move those releases to where you think they fit best. I´m not that familiar with that part of Ministry´s disco. Normally I would ask such a question in the relevant sub genre team thread. [/QUOTE]This is an example of where MMA and PA are quite different, in that in PA the band itself is tagged as being a specific sub genre so therefore all albums have to go under that genre, whether they 'fit' or not. To move a band from one sub to another, the 'holding' sub has to vote and agree that they should be moved, and then the 'receiving' sub has to vote to take them in. If they refuse then they stay where they are.This means that MMA has an advantage in that a band and their output can be more correctly tagged, but it can lead to complications. I would personally always post in the relevant sub genre before moving a band, just to check that the team were happy with it. I remember being mortified to see that Thunder were shown as a glam band, but still asked permission before I moved it.Thanks for moving all the Ministry albums - I just went to do that.Jonas - thanks for the TSOS reviews. I was with the band a couple of nights ago and they are really stoked with them, and said wonderful things about you as a writer as well! 
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Finger Eleven Living in a Dream
    [QUOTE=Unitron]Finger Eleven's single 'Living in a Dream' must have accidentally been added to studio albums. [/QUOTE] Amended. Thanks for letting us know
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in An endless sporadic new single mistake
    [QUOTE=vmoore]Hi i made a mistake on the musicials part of the new An Endless Sporadic Single Spaceship Factory that I put up. I put is based on what they have on their website when on bandcamp the musicians for this is different and in the video there is more than just 2 guys playing. This is what it is supposed to be. Please fix itZach Kamins - Guitars and Keyboards Andy Gentile - Drums Eloy Palacios - Bass Tony Solís - Additional Guitars [/QUOTE]  All done

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