Necrotica

Brendan Schroer
MMA Special Collaborator · Prog/AG, Death, Alt
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 4 days ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

1457 reviews/ratings
CRADLE OF FILTH - Dusk and Her Embrace Symphonic Black Metal
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS - Siamese Dream Heavy Alternative Rock | review permalink
OPETH - Still Life Progressive Metal
CORRUPTED - Paso Inferior Drone Metal
GOJIRA - The Way of All Flesh Death Metal
SYMPHONY X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy Progressive Metal
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
KREATOR - Pleasure to Kill Thrash Metal
DREAM THEATER - Images and Words Progressive Metal
CYNIC - Focus Technical Death Metal
CYNIC - Traced in Air Progressive Metal
QUEEN - A Night At The Opera Proto-Metal
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
PRIMUS - Tales From the Punchbowl Funk Metal
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS - Blood Sugar Sex Magik Non-Metal
FOO FIGHTERS - The Colour and the Shape Heavy Alternative Rock
L7 - Bricks Are Heavy Heavy Alternative Rock | review permalink
RUSH - Hemispheres Hard Rock
RUSH - Permanent Waves Hard Rock

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 133 3.83
2 Hard Rock 117 3.53
3 Non-Metal 117 3.50
4 Thrash Metal 108 3.78
5 Heavy Metal 104 3.48
6 Death Metal 88 3.85
7 Alternative Metal 77 3.66
8 Heavy Alternative Rock 68 3.68
9 Power Metal 58 3.69
10 Melodic Death Metal 50 3.67
11 Metal Related 47 3.90
12 Technical Death Metal 45 3.92
13 Metalcore 44 3.07
14 Nu Metal 37 3.30
15 Deathcore 36 3.38
16 Proto-Metal 21 3.95
17 Melodic Metalcore 20 3.67
18 Hardcore Punk 20 3.85
19 Groove Metal 18 3.25
20 Mathcore 18 3.97
21 Technical Thrash Metal 18 4.33
22 US Power Metal 17 3.76
23 Black Metal 16 4.06
24 Avant-garde Metal 13 4.04
25 Funk Metal 12 4.04
26 Gothic Metal 12 3.71
27 Sludge Metal 12 4.17
28 Symphonic Black Metal 11 4.00
29 Grindcore 11 3.45
30 Symphonic Metal 10 3.55
31 Rap Metal 10 3.75
32 Glam Metal 9 3.44
33 Brutal Death Metal 8 3.88
34 Crossover Thrash 8 3.69
35 Industrial Metal 8 4.06
36 Drone Metal 7 4.29
37 NWoBHM 7 4.00
38 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 6 4.42
39 Speed Metal 5 4.10
40 Traditional Doom Metal 4 4.25
41 Cybergrind 4 4.13
42 Folk Metal 4 4.38
43 Atmospheric Black Metal 3 4.00
44 Melodic Black Metal 3 4.00
45 Heavy Psych 2 4.00
46 Goregrind 2 3.50
47 Death-Doom Metal 2 4.00
48 Stoner Metal 2 4.00
49 Stoner Rock 1 4.00
50 Viking Metal 1 4.00
51 Doom Metal 1 4.50
52 Funeral Doom Metal 1 4.50
53 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

KING'S X Three Sides of One

Album · 2022 · Hard Rock
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If I could sum up the majority of King’s X’s output in one word, I would call it “reliable”. Their signature blend of hard rock, progressive rock/metal, and alternative metal really hasn’t changed much over the years, despite a few experimental releases here and there (Please Come Home… Mr. Bulbous immediately comes to mind). But in all fairness, their sound never really needed to change in the first place; despite only bubbling up beneath the mainstream, you’ll find no shortage of musicians who have praised them over the years. From Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament proclaiming that they invented grunge to Devin Townsend including Gretchen Goes to Nebraska in his list of the “Five Albums That Made Me”, King’s X have garnered a reputation as “your favorite band’s favorite band” for a reason. With that said, the last decade hasn’t exactly been kind to our rock trio: in the time since 2008’s XV, drummer Jerry Gaskill and frontman Doug Pinnick had suffered their share of health issues, including two heart attacks in the former’s case and a lymph node infection in the latter. Combine that with the members’ respective solo projects, and it was understandable that production on Three Sides of One would be a slow and difficult process. But now that it’s finally out, how exactly does it stack up against their previous works?

Right from the get-go, opener “Let It Rain” makes it apparent that these guys haven’t lost a step since their absence. It’s a warm, inviting midtempo rocker with all the spiritual imagery and charismatic vocals that you would typically expect of a King’s X song. You have to give it to Pinnick as well: the dude is in his 70s now, and yet his vocals sound like they did in the band’s early days. His singing manages to range from low vibrato sections to high impassioned wails, as if he’s still exalting the music he heard in “Over My Head” all those years ago. Meanwhile, Ty Tabor is cooking up all sorts of diverse guitar tones and techniques throughout the record; you’ve got the absolutely nasty sludge-influenced intro to “Flood Pt. 1”, the bluesy crunch found in the riffs of high-octane rocker “Give It Up”, the gorgeous clean tones of power ballad “All God’s Children”, and much more. While Pinnick and Gaskill provide an excellent rhythm section as always, it’s Tabor who brings much of the stylistic diversity on Three Sides of One.

What’s especially welcome about the record is the presence of the gospel and soul elements that defined the trio’s best works. “Take the Time”, for instance, is rife with lush vocal harmonies and an overall life-affirming atmosphere; the whole song just exudes feel-good vibes. The aforementioned “All God’s Children” is another good case of this, as even its heavier sections retain the reverent spirit of its subdued acoustic moments; of course, having lovely vocal interplay between Tabor and Pinnick helps too. But if there are any genuine surprises found in Three Sides of One’s tracklist, they’re in the metal side of things; seriously, this record gets startlingly heavy at times. “Flood Pt. 1” and “Swipe Up” are both marked by sludgy downtuned riffs that channel the likes of Alice in Chains or Melvins, although the former does ease up in its verses. Elsewhere on the album, we get the proggy off-kilter riff that introduces “Holidays” and the down-and-dirty southern grooves of “Watcher”, displaying a band who aren’t afraid to express their heavier side in new ways 43 years into their career. However, it would have been nice to have just a few more of such experiments on the record. Much of Three Sides of One is just business as usual for King’s X, the tracklist largely being occupied by midtempo melodic rockers in the group’s traditional style without a ton of surprises; a little dose of unpredictability could have strengthened the experience as a whole.

Still, having a new record by these guys is like hugging an old friend you haven’t seen in years; even after such a long absence, there’s still a warm familiarity you get as a King’s X fan when putting the album on for the first time. The classic Beatles-esque melodies? The soulful vibes? The rock-solid musicianship? The heavy semi-proggy riffs? They’re all here, and all get their due spotlight over the course of the album. Three Sides of One doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any major way, but it serves as a nice continuation of the band’s career after such a long gap between releases; moreover, it’s just incredibly satisfying to see them finally putting out new material again.

OCEANS OF SLUMBER Starlight and Ash

Album · 2022 · Progressive Metal
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"It’s going to be more experimental." "We’re taking our established sound and expanding it." "This will be our darkest record yet." So many bands make these claims before a new release, only to backpedal and make the exact same album as before. However, upon hearing the first few songs on Starlight and Ash, it became very clear to me that Oceans of Slumber would stay true to their word and do something different this time around. Instead of continuing on with the progressive doom sound that had become their signature, they decided to pare things down and draw inspiration from the very land they were formed upon. Now, I need to make something very clear: this doesn’t mean the sextet have abandoned everything that made them who they are. You still get Cammie Gilbert’s expressive vocals, frequent dynamic shifts, and the same melancholic atmosphere the band have always been known for. However, the way they approach these elements has changed significantly.

So what do I mean by “the very land they were formed upon”? Well, it’s actually very literal: Starlight and Ash takes the members’ Texan roots and brings them closer to the forefront. The death growls and epic song lengths have all but disappeared, making way for lean cuts of southern gothic doom rock – yes, most of the metal has been stripped away on this project as well. Once in a while you’ll get a song like “Star Altar” or “Just a Day”, both of which harken back to the band’s earlier material, but the majority of Starlight and Ash is spent exploring previously uncharted sonic territory. Single “The Lighthouse” was certainly a sign of things to come, marked by an acoustic guitar motif that must have been ripped straight out of an old spaghetti western movie. But other songs go even further to establish the band’s newfound experimentation, such as the hypnotic gothic rock of “The Hanging Tree” and the lovely solo piano piece “The Spring of 21”; these tunes retain Oceans of Slumber’s usual brand of melancholic beauty while taking them into exciting new directions.

The band members themselves have also scaled back their performances, and nowhere is this more important than with our two main songwriters, the spousal duo of Gilbert and drummer Dobber Beverly. Instead of frequently relying on the dramatic belting of the former and the over-the-top drum fills of the latter, both have opted for a more understated approach this time around. In the case of Gilbert, this serves to make the climaxes even more powerful; opener “The Waters Rising”, serves as a prime example, as she finally lets loose midway through the song after two minutes of anxious buildup. Combined with the ever-quickening tempo, it’s a legitimately exciting payoff. Beverly, meanwhile, has revamped his playing style to compliment each song without being too flashy; occasionally you’ll still get overly technical flights of fancy, but they’re not nearly as prominent as before. Of course, I also can’t downplay how effective the shortened song lengths are on Starlight and Ash: despite the relative lack of metal on the record, the tightened song structures and arrangements ironically give the material much more urgency. “The Hanging Tree” and “Hearts of Stone” are just as slow and doomy as what you’ll find on previous records, but because of how much content they pack into just four minutes each, nothing comes across as meandering – a common problem with their earlier work.

With all of that said, there’s still room for improvement. For all the praise I’ve given the group for their willingness to experiment, some of the results don’t quite hit the mark. The cover of “House of the Rising Sun” is probably the worst offender, as it simply seems out of place; in fact, aside from some nice violin work, there’s not much to speak of. The song doesn’t build up to anything particularly interesting, instead opting to remain in generic ballad territory throughout its runtime; if there’s any song on the record that could have benefitted from an explosive climax, it’s this one. Still, I have to commend Oceans of Slumber for even attempting an album like this. I suppose only time will tell whether Starlight and Ash ends up being a transitional record or a one-off experiment, but what we received in the meantime is quite the compelling experience. Even if you’ve been disappointed with the group’s past efforts, I still suggest giving this one a try; it might just convert you.

DEATH Symbolic

Album · 1995 · Technical Death Metal
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I remember when I first heard the phrase “adventure metal”; guitarist Chris Letchford used it to describe his band Scale the Summit. And it’s not like I can’t see where he’s coming from, either. Scale the Summit use atmosphere and shifts in mood to take you on a journey, an expedition of sorts. At the same time, though, it’s not like they were the first band to come up with such a concept; countless acts, from Opeth to Gojira, have gone great lengths to make their music feel more like an excursion than mere tracklists. But today, we’re going to talk about a band who had to evolve to get to this point: the almighty metal giants Death. To put it simply, it’s hard to believe that the same band that wrote such a primal display of death metal fury as Scream Bloody Gore could come up with an incredible mixture of aggression and sophistication. Despite this, Symbolic proved to be the pinnacle of Death’s steady evolution into the realm of progressive extreme metal. With a new lineup of guitarist Bobby Koelble, bassist Kelly Conlon, and returning drummer Gene Hoglan, Chuck was ready to redefine metal once again… this time achieving the strongest results.

From the opening notes of the title track, Symbolic sounds like a daunting undertaking, as if you’re actually scaling a mountain. Those monumental octave-jumping riffs, combined with the classically-inclined melodies arched above, show just how much Chuck Schuldiner had grown as a songwriter over the years. It’s not enough anymore to just have meaty, brutal riffs, but now they’re all embellished with little ornaments that flesh out the atmosphere and diversity of the recording. That melodic opening riff in “Without Judgment” sounds pretty cool; what more could they add? Well, some intricate and progressive drum fills courtesy of Gene Hoglan should do the trick. That chunky Drop-D intro to “Crystal Mountain” is aggressive and driving; how about that one? Get Schuldiner and Bobby Koelble to bring in some classical harmonies straight out of a Dream Theater album to round it out! Despite the progressive influences, however, the technicality and ambition never get overbearing to the point that they get in the way of a good riff or a good groove. On top of that, songs like “Misanthrope” and “1,000 Eyes” still pay respect to the band’s thrash-driven past with harsh and relentless arrangements that round out the variety on Symbolic.

Now, let’s get back to that first statement I made: the one regarding “adventure metal.” That may sound like a really stupid term (and, to be honest, I’d agree), but it’s still a great way to describe Symbolic. The way each song shifts and adjusts to each change in mood and tone is ridiculously natural, and gives off the true sense of embarking on a journey. “Perennial Quest” is probably the best example, especially in how it concludes the record with a soft acoustic portion that somehow doesn’t sound out-of-place on a Death album (then again, there’s also “Voice of the Soul”...). Many of the riffs and melodies here are adorned with an emotional punch that’s lacking in a lot of today’s technical metal; just listen to the quiet introduction to “Empty Words” and the subtle melancholy it wrings out of the clean guitar progression. On a similar note, check out the beautiful clean section of “Sacred Serenity,” which provides a nice contemplative break from the metal frenzy without breaking too far away from the band’s signature style. The lyrics are equally thought-provoking too, touching on themes of religion, hypocrisy, deceit, misanthropy, as well as many depictions of inner contemplation and soul-searching. The poetry on the record brings nice accompaniment to the more advanced musical arrangements, to say the least.

Death’s followup The Sound of Perseverance might be even more adventurous, and Individual Thought Patterns might have been more technical, but neither of them pulled these qualities together as meaningfully as Symbolic did. If you were to ask me why Symbolic works so well, I could answer that in just a few words: songwriting and storytelling. They sound like simple ingredients, but Death elevated them to such lofty heights that very few death metal or progressive metal bands could keep up with the sheer ambition and focus of this epic. Symbolic is beautiful, immersive, elaborate, brutal, and a stunning testament to just how emotionally and artistically accomplished heavy metal can be.

ARCH ENEMY Deceivers

Album · 2022 · Melodic Death Metal
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For a moment, I want you to check out the current lineup of Arch Enemy. Jeff Loomis, Michael Amott, Alissa White-Gluz… that trio alone should be worth the price of admission. And that’s also precisely why listening to 2017’s Will to Power was so disappointing: despite a few interesting experiments here and there (and the fact that 2014’s War Eternal was already mediocre), it was a shame to hear these incredibly talented musicians go through the motions for most of the record’s runtime. It’s even more sad when you consider each member’s respective pedigree, whether it be White-Gluz’s fantastic vocal work in The Agonist, Loomis’ run with Nevermore, or Amott’s work with Carcass (not to mention earlier Arch Enemy albums). But perhaps this complacency finally lit a fire under their asses, because the group’s new project Deceivers is quite the substantial leap in quality.

Now before you ask: no, this is not a stylistic reinvention by any means. Deceivers still uses the well-worn Arch Enemy formula: catchy twin guitar leads, anthemic choruses, vague lyrics about rebellion and loyalty… it’s all here in spades. But the difference lies in just how the band approach these stylistic hallmarks this time around. As soon as Loomis’ infectious lead guitar work kicks off opener “Handshake with Hell”, you can tell there’s a certain energy and conviction that wasn’t present on the group’s last few records; meanwhile, White-Gluz effortlessly switches between harsh and clean vocals at the drop of a hat. In fact, Deceivers has the best overall performance I’ve heard from her since her work with The Agonist; her aggressive vocals - which can range from relatively low growls to piercing screams - are a perfect fit for thrashy cuts like “Deceiver, Deceiver” and “The Watcher”. However, her greatest asset as a melodic death metal singer is still her versatility, which continues to place her above many of her peers. Her clean vocals are often just as effective as her harsh ones, as found in the epic power metal-esque scream that introduces “House of Mirrors” and the subdued spoken word bits of “One Last Time”.

As for the other musicians? They’ve stepped up their game a bit as well; however, Loomis is still quite underutilized. Anyone familiar with Nevermore knows that he can shred his ass off, whether in a lead or rhythm capacity. But it seems as though both he and Amott had to tone down their normal playing ability to fit the music itself; thus, we stuff like the boring harmonized intro of “House of Mirrors” or the exceptionally flat one-note riffage “In the Eye of the Storm”, the latter being a massive step down from the first two tracks. However, where Deceivers shines is in the little nuances that help it break from the band’s typical formula a bit. I’ve already talked about White-Gluz’s versatility, but it extends to some of the instrumental passages as well – one prime example is the lengthy intro to “Poisoned Arrow”. A lovely orchestral passage (actually played by two cellists!) gives way to a contemplative clean guitar section; it’s not the most original thing in the world, but it’s a nice way to build up tension and drama before the tune starts proper. Meanwhile, a quick spotlight is given to Sharlee D’Angelo in the small bass-centric intro to “Sunset Over the Empire”, a song that actually has some nice neoclassical touches in its arrangement. Finally, I’d like to highlight the closer “Exiled from Earth”, specifically how effectively it combines acoustic and electric guitars. The way both are melded together in the intro creates a vibe that’s equal parts apocalyptic and lamenting, making for quite the potent finale for the record.

With that said, most of Deceivers is business as usual for Arch Enemy. But then again, when hasn’t that been the case for their career? They’re like the melodic death metal equivalent to fast food: enjoyable and satisfying in the short term, but not doing much to elevate themselves beyond that. However, credit needs to be given where it’s due, and Deceivers is a surprisingly fun romp through the band’s familiar musical tropes. If you don’t enjoy Arch Enemy in the first place, this won’t do much for you; however, if you’re a fan who’s been waiting for a nice return to form after the last few releases, you’re in for a treat.

WORMROT Hiss

Album · 2022 · Grindcore
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Like them or not, you have to give Wormrot props for the way they approach a creatively stubborn genre like grindcore. With every release, they expand their sound little-by-little while staying true to their roots, giving them a degree of stylistic freedom while managing not to alienate their core fanbase. However, the opening moments of Hiss were enough to tell me that they were going to take their sound to even darker, stranger places. Instead of storming the gates with fire and brimstone, “The Darkest Burden” introduces the album with murky ambient effects. It sounds as though you’ve been dragged into a deep, damp cave, with the constant fear that something or someone will attack you out of nowhere. It’s as if to say “get comfy", because you’ll be taken to some disturbing, unsettling locales for the next 32 minutes.

As one would expect, the aforementioned “attack out of nowhere” does come, in the form of the rest of the song. Vocalist Arif – who unfortunately departed the band before the album’s release – screams at the top of his lungs, as a barrage of double bass drumming and vicious guitar work helps to set the scene. This pretty much forms the stylistic thesis statement of the record; however, as I stated earlier, there are some interesting tweaks this time around. Of course, as far as experimentation goes, most people’s attention will be focused on the violin parts found on songs such as “Grieve” and the sprawling closer “Glass Shards” – for good reason too, as it’s not often that you hear an instrument like that in grindcore. However, what fascinated me more were the odd bits in which melody would take centerstage. “Your Dystopian Hell” may just be the best example, the combination of frantic blastbeats and melancholic guitar chords being highly reminiscent of All We Love We Leave Behind-era Converge. “Sea of Disease” takes things in an even more jarring direction, adopting a much slower pace and really letting those plaintive guitar lines ring out.

However, this isn’t to say that the band have compromised their trademark sound in the slightest. This shit is absolutely brutal, managing to be just as aggressive and bloodthirsty as the band’s previous efforts. While guitarist Rasyid and drummer Vijesh are excellent at their respective instruments, it’s Arif who steals the show here. The guy can do just about everything you’d hope for from an extreme metal vocalist: the piercing black metal shrieks? Check. Shouting and barking in the vein of traditional hardcore? Check. Stygian gutturals that sound like they came from the pits of hell? Check. I often find that his most effective moments vocally are the ones in which he doubles his highs and lows, such as on “Vicious Circle” and “Spiral Eyes”. Obviously a lot of death metal and deathcore vocalists double up their parts like that, but Arif just makes them sound utterly disgusting. However, as stated earlier, the other guys are no slouch either. Vijesh deserves a special mention, particularly for just how damn fast his drum work is; he might not necessarily be up there with Nile’s George Kolias or Cryptopsy’s Flo Mounier on that front, but damn if he doesn’t come close at times.

If there’s anything about Hiss that does come closer to traditional grindcore, it’s the short-track, short-runtime approach typical of the genre. Most of the songs get in and get out in a minute or two, which is especially effective in regards to the more experimental tracks. You get a nice smorgasbord of sorts: give the listener something cool and unique for a brief snippet, and then move on to the next cool idea. Unfortunately, with the departure of Arif, it seems as though the group’s future is now in the air. Will they continue to push boundaries, or will they revert back to a more straightforward take on their grindcore sound? I suppose only time will tell, but all I know is this: Hiss was one hell of a swansong for Arif to go out on with his time in Wormrot. These guys created a bold, experimental, and inventive record that takes a stagnant genre and turns it on its head, all while never forgetting where they came from in the first place.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 10 months ago in Andrew W.K. (United States)
    Alright, just forwarded your request to the hard rock team, so we'll see what they say 
  • Posted 10 months ago in Andrew W.K. (United States)
    Personally I agree, although I think it'll be a matter of taking this up with one of the people from the hard rock team. Honestly, I'm actually a bit surprised that he isn't on the site yet. 
  • Posted 1 year ago in My New Classical Composition!
    I posted this on ProgArchives as well, so I'll copy and paste what I typed there:So I've recently been writing a lot of my own music, including composing some pieces. I figure I've been reviewing long enough that I'd might as well incorporate my influences into some original music. Anyway, this is a piece I just wrote the other day; I'm starting to experiment more with different time signatures and extra instrumentation. Hope you enjoy! The play button is on the score itself when you click the linkhttps://flat.io/score/6016a3d4e860316a1409458c-remission Necrotica2021-02-02 20:16:23

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