Brendan Schroer
MMA Special Collaborator · Prog/AG, Death, Alt
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 3 months ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

1313 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
NEVERMORE - Dreaming Neon Black Thrash Metal
GOJIRA - The Link 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
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN - Calculating Infinity Mathcore
ALICE IN CHAINS - Dirt Alternative Metal
QUEEN - A Night At The Opera Proto-Metal
KAMELOT - The Black Halo Power 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
KATATONIA - Last Fair Deal Gone Down Metal Related

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 114 3.78
2 Non-Metal 111 3.51
3 Thrash Metal 110 3.73
4 Hard Rock 104 3.51
5 Heavy Metal 102 3.47
6 Heavy Alternative Rock 80 3.64
7 Death Metal 73 3.77
8 Alternative Metal 66 3.72
9 Power Metal 54 3.67
10 Melodic Death Metal 42 3.60
11 Metalcore 36 3.28
12 Technical Death Metal 36 3.82
13 Deathcore 35 2.91
14 Nu Metal 34 3.26
15 Metal Related 26 3.92
16 Proto-Metal 22 3.93
17 Technical Thrash Metal 18 4.28
18 Hardcore Punk 17 3.88
19 Mathcore 16 3.94
20 Avant-garde Metal 16 4.06
21 Melodic Metalcore 15 3.73
22 Black Metal 14 4.07
23 Groove Metal 13 3.65
24 Funk Metal 12 4.04
25 US Power Metal 12 3.63
26 Sludge Metal 11 4.14
27 Symphonic Black Metal 10 3.90
28 Grindcore 10 3.35
29 Glam Metal 9 3.44
30 Rap Metal 9 3.78
31 Symphonic Metal 8 3.63
32 Brutal Death Metal 8 3.88
33 Crossover Thrash 8 3.69
34 Gothic Metal 7 3.29
35 Drone Metal 7 4.29
36 NWoBHM 7 3.86
37 Industrial Metal 5 4.10
38 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 5 4.40
39 Speed Metal 5 4.10
40 Traditional Doom Metal 4 4.25
41 Cybergrind 4 3.75
42 Melodic Black Metal 3 4.17
43 Atmospheric Black Metal 2 4.00
44 Death-Doom Metal 2 4.00
45 Goregrind 2 3.50
46 Stoner Metal 2 4.00
47 Stoner Rock 1 4.00
48 Viking Metal 1 4.00
49 Folk Metal 1 4.50
50 Funeral Doom Metal 1 4.50
51 Doom Metal 1 4.00
52 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50
53 Heavy Psych 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

KALEIKR Heart of Lead

Album · 2019 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Kaleikr have re-ignited a question I’ve been asking for years: at what point does repetition become good or bad? Truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever found a clear-cut answer to that question. It’s fascinating that we can praise a Sunn O))) or Lightning Bolt record for the exact same reason we harshly criticize the latest pop-rap snorefest by the likes of Pitbull. Is it because of the intent behind it? That’s probably one of the strongest answers, but I don’t think it fully illustrates the entire reason. Repetition can be used for cynical cash cows like Pitbull, but many pop and dance jams that revolve around repetition are still enjoyable, regardless of intent.

But Heart of Lead partially answered my question by offering something a bit more unique. This actually goes back to my Eleanor Friedberger review from last year; in that write-up I explained how Rebound’s hypnotic qualities are a perfect foil for more interesting experiments to crawl out of the woodwork. Similarly, Heart of Lead uses a mesmerizing brand of post/progressive black metal as a deceptive cover for the varied contents within. “Internal Contradiction”’s brutal mid-song riffage and tempo shifts are suddenly more effective when they’re clashing with more esoteric soundscapes. The title track’s explosion of screams and anguished tremolo picking is much more earned when you’ve got such a beautifully melancholic buildup to precede it. “Beheld at Sunrise” also benefits from a great buildup, using rolling drums and a mournful piano to properly foreshadow its gutting riffs and doom-laden atmosphere. It’s almost like some twisted form of cinematic grief.

The formula that makes Heart of Lead so great seems so easy, but it’s incredibly difficult to master. How many bands have tried to use this contrasting ebb-and-flow format and fallen on their asses? Luckily, much like fellow metal bands who have miraculously succeeded with these contrasts - such as Opeth and Giant Squid - Kaleikr seem up to the challenge. Much of their appeal comes from how they’re already on their way to mastering the art of atmosphere, mostly revolving around melancholy and solemn contemplation. Even at their heaviest moments, such as the dissonant breakdowns of “Of Unbearable Longing” or the downtuned doom riffs that fuel “Eternal Stalemate and a Never-Ending Sunset” (that’s one hell of a title), the umbral mood remains thick and unceasing.

But perhaps most importantly, it still comes off as very colorful and textured. There are many layers to peel back on Heart of Lead whether you’re focusing on the treble or bass end of the production; on certain moments, especially when the blastbeats and tremolo guitars merge as one single beast, there’s a strange beauty to the aggression. It often takes me back to Ulver’s early days as a black metal outfit, and that’s certainly a good thing. Heart of Lead is an album that knows how to manipulate a listener’s patience and understanding of dynamics, and I’m sure that will come in handy as they continue to evolve. So, to answer the original question: what makes this repetition good? That’s because the record immerses in its possibilities, as Kaleikr are aware that they could pull the strings and play around with the repetition as needed without compromising their sound. Quite an impressive feat for a debut album, I'd say.

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

Album · 1995 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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One of the best traits Billy Corgan has always had as a songwriter is that he’s incredibly skilled at making mountains out of molehills. Much like Bruce Springsteen, he has the ability to take the mundane and transform it into the most grand and sweeping thing you’ve ever heard. Back in the 90s, he took the genre of alternative rock and injected it with a sense of artistry and grace that immediately set The Smashing Pumpkins apart from the majority of their grungy, down-to-earth peers. And let’s be clear here: it’s not like the band were strangers to grunge or alternative metal themselves. Songs like “Cherub Rock,” “Zero,” and “Quiet” are all infused with a murky, dirty tone and downtuned guitar work that act as a piledriver to the ears. However, as pretentious as Corgan might have been (let’s be fair here, he was… and still is), he knew that adding a heightened level of grandeur to his chosen genre would make his band stand out. Gish and Siamese Dream were already building up to the peak of this evolution, especially the latter which would become known as a classic in its own right. And even through the group’s inner turmoil, the classic lineup remained (Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain, James Iha, and D’arcy Wretzky) to cut their second - and arguably their final - classic. But back then, was anybody really prepared for a full-blown 2-hour double disc by these guys?

I’d imagine not. Even as double albums go, 2 straight hours is a lot to ask of someone’s time - especially when hearing Billy Corgan’s nasally whine throughout that duration. So it’s quite astonishing, then, that nearly every moment has an important place in Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Granted, it should probably go without saying that - with a duration as long as this - there’s really no stone left unturned. Alternative rock, progressive rock, symphonic rock, art rock, shoegaze, psychedelia, grunge, and heavy metal are all fairly represented at different times, altogether sculpting one of the most eclectic works of the 90s. But the artistic growth of the band (or more specifically, Billy Corgan, considering he wrote the vast majority of the record) doesn’t stop there. Much like a play or a film laced with intermissions, Mellon Collie is separated by two different acts: Dawn to Dusk and Twilight to Starlight. A number of songs play into this concept as well, such as “We Only Come Out at Night” naturally appearing in the second disc to represent the twilight or the beautiful piano-driven opening title track lifting the figurative curtains to signify the coming of dawn. As for the lyrics themselves, each song acts as a specific little vignette or a small puzzle piece; this isn’t really a concept album in the traditional sense (there’s no actual arc or storyline), but rather a grand jigsaw puzzle composed of miniature stories that correlate in some way to their respective discs.

As such, the relationship between tension and release is one of the biggest draws of Mellon Collie. Because of the wildly varying dynamics, the album constantly goes back and forth with its bipolar nature like a seesaw as it traverses through every facet of the band’s experimental tendencies. “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans” and “Thru the Eyes of Ruby” like to swell and build their dynamics to satisfying conclusions in a progressive rock fashion, while tunes like “Tales of a Scorched Earth” and “X.Y.U.” present the band in its ugliest form with pummeling metal riffs and furious blasts of guitar feedback. Likewise, there are plenty of delicate ballads that help mitigate the intensity of the propulsive rockers, as one might expect on such a long-winded journey. Notably, two of these are the only songs not written by Billy Corgan himself: guitarist James Iha wrote the album’s closers, “Take Me Down” and “Farewell and Goodnight,” both of which close out their respective sides in a serene manner. But that’s not to say they’re the best ballads on offer; in my mind, the gorgeously layered dream pop number “By Starlight” easily wins in that regard. “Cupid De Locke” is another highlight, using unorthodox percussion in the form of saltshakers to propel its easygoing rhythms and flighty tempo. As I mentioned before, tension and release is what makes Mellon Collie so consistently fun to listen to. It’s all about the different yins and yangs of volume and style, all countering each other in fresh new ways. If you want the best showing of this, listen to “X.Y.U.” and “We Only Come Out at Night,” which play back-to-back and yet contrast each other in every way. The former is a brutal Melvins-esque jab of sludgy alternative metal, and the latter is a quaint ballad with a light swing rhythm. How the latter follows up the former so well, I’ll never know.

I’ll be completely blunt about this: I’m not normally a fan of double albums. With so much content to pack into one recording, it almost seems like a guarantee that you’ll encounter something that should have stayed on the cutting room floor. It’s a problem that’s plagued quite a few albums in the past, including (in my opinion, at least) The Beatles’ self-titled White Album and Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. This is the way I see things: if you’re going to stuff your record with more than one disc full of material, you’d better make sure to bring your A-game and take special care in every track to make sure it has a purpose. There might be a few weaker cuts on Mellon Collie (“Love” and “Beautiful” come to mind), but there was never a time that I thought they actually crippled the album in any severe way. Considering this is a 28-track record with 121 minutes to its runtime, it’s insane to think that even the throwaways are still as well-written as they are. If you gave “Love” and “Beautiful” to an album from a lower-tier alternative rock band from that era, they might have been considered highlights; think about that.

There was once a time when I thought Siamese Dream was The Smashing Pumpkins’ true peak, with Mellon Collie at a close second. However, that opinion has been slowly reversing with the passage of time. The more time I’ve given this album to grow and cultivate in my eardrums, the more its phenomenal consistency and emotional potency have also grown. Moreover, Mellon Collie just feels important. Alternative rock needed something this grandiose and diverse, whether the practitioners or listeners of the genre wanted to dispute that or not. Such a fully-realized masterwork only comes around once in a lifetime, and you’d be wise to lend an ear to its timeless tunes if you haven’t already.


Album · 1996 · Non-Metal
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I've always been fascinated with music artists who frequently reinvent their sound and yet maintain quality and freshness in their work regardless. While so many artists fail to make waves in the commercial or critical department when slowly transitioning into new territory, others make a complete 180° turn and succeed greatly whether by knowing the musical landscape or by just pure luck. Then you have Porcupine Tree, who have had three radical reinventions and been very well-received for all of them. You have the psychedelic era (when they weren't even a full group yet), the alternative era, and the progressive metal era; as of now, none of the band's albums (even debut On the Sunday of Life) have been terribly received and most of them receive high marks. However, one album that never seems to fit into the grand scheme of things is the band's sole transitional album Signify; while considered by many to be part of the psychedelic era, the album seems to combine the past and future sounds of the group almost perfectly. True to this statement, the album also remains one of their best and most balanced works; it not only depicts how far Steven Wilson had come with his musical project, but also depicts a promising and vast future for a now-complete group.

As suggested by that last sentence, this is indeed the first Porcupine Tree album with a full band to perform with Steven Wilson. Right from the opening of the surprisingly heavy title track, there's a strengthened sense of unity and focus in the material; while the trippy arrangements and vast soundscapes of previous records return here as well, they aren't always the main focus this time around. As suggested by the shorter running times of the songs, a lot of musical fat is trimmed and the psychedelic aspects are a bit toned down, but instrumental tracks like "Idiot Prayer" and "Intermediate Jesus" play with the group's spacey side with extended atmospheric jams. One of the best things about this album (one thing that plagued previous records by the band) is that there's a great stylistic balance; the album combines multiple genres and sounds, but distributes them all very well. You've got the first real song "Signify" (the first track is just an intro) which kicks things off with a hard-hitting riff and gets the listener pumped, only to be followed by a beautiful ballad in "Sleep of No Dreaming" as well as multiple improvisational jams and other ballads. "Sever" is the track in which the harder-rocking sound comes back into play, and it's brilliantly placed in the middle as a good way to kick up the volume at just the right time. This is some of the best song placement I've ever seen/heard on a record, and it's great to hear so many well-done switches in the band's sound.

Beyond that though, the real treasure of this album is its appreciation of atmosphere. This is one of Porcupine Tree's darkest records, but the moments of hope (despite there not being many) come at the right moments. For instance, closer "Dark Matter" is pretty damn depressing in terms of lyricism, but the guitar solo that follows the verses and choruses is absolutely beautiful and even inspiring as the dynamics increase and the instrumentation becomes less isolated. "Sever" and "Idiot Prayer" are perhaps even more important dynamically, as the more aggressive moments are placed among softer moments to give the listener moments of reflection in between the heavier portions. Of course, the band still shine most when those trademark melancholic Porcupine Tree ballads rear their heads; "Every Home is Wired" is still the song that impresses me the most, making the most out of guitar and keyboard layering to bring out some gorgeous textures. The psychedelic jam that concludes the song never hurts either. "Sleep of No Dreaming" is also notable, featuring an organ-sounding keyboard performance from Richard Barbieri to illustrate the song's musical backdrop as Steven Wilson gives one of his most emotional vocal performances.

The only gripe I can think of is that, despite great song placement, there's not quite as much musical consistency as the band's best records. Interludes like "Light Mass Prayers" or "Pagan" aren't really needed and can kill the pace of some of the album. If that's the worst thing about the record, though, then there isn't much to complain about. This is a superb way to end Porcupine Tree's psychedelic era and usher in the alternative era of their sound. All in all, it's a wonderful transitional album.

BORN OF OSIRIS The Simulation

Album · 2019 · Deathcore
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Back in 2011, Born of Osiris performed an admirable feat: they brought a heightened sense of futurism and adventure to a then-stagnant genre. The Discovery was an incredibly welcome breath of fresh air that, unfortunately, will always cast a shadow over the band’s subsequent work because of its ambition. Still, they certainly keep trying and trying to recapture the spark that The Discovery gave off and Tomorrow We Die Alive regrettably lost. After all, the concept of taking deathcore into more experimental and adventurous avenues is something that I’ll always be behind. By all means, let’s take the genre somewhere that forces it outside of its comfort zone! And besides, many of these substantially “djentier” deathcore and modern metalcore bands have usually been the ones who continue to push the boundaries, stemming from artists such as After the Burial and Veil of Maya. Well, luckily, Born of Osiris’ new effort The Simulation sees them back in action with their best album since The Discovery. Granted, there’s really no more death metal in there. For that matter, many of the songs ride a low groove that sees them moving even further into djent territory than before. So why does The Simulation work so well?

Because it has a runtime of only 25 minutes, which means it has less time to pack in all of its exciting riffs and experimentations before quickly getting the fuck out. As such, you’re greeted by enough twists and turns to make your head spin. There are a few quiet moments of atmosphere throughout, such as the frantic little symphonic intro of “Disconnectome” or the entirely of interlude “Recursion,” but for the most part, these moments of space and contemplation are constantly butting heads with the meaty riffs underneath. By far, the best section to feature this conflict comes from the outro of “Silence of the Echo,” whose melodic solo lends the heavy chugs and power chords with a beautifully spacy counterpoint. It actually reminds me of The Faceless’ Planetary Duality days, and that’s not the only moment that made me think of that album. Every time “Disconnectome” breaks into a melodic solo or goes through a hyper-fast blastbeat section, it really does sound reminiscent of the sci-fi tech-death from that era of The Faceless.

Thankfully, Born of Osiris don’t forget their roots on The Simulation, paying plenty of homage to what made them a household name in deathcore while still continuing to experiment with their formula. If I had to pick out the best change this time around, it’s that the guitar leads or more fluid than ever. “Analogs in a Cell,” “Silence the Echo,” “Disconnectome,” and “Cycles of Tragedy” are all imbued with fantastic soloing that both technically impresses and constantly shifts between neo-classical and jazz fusion stylings. Also, the variety in the drumming is really impressive from time to time; “Disconnectome” in particular (yes, I know I’m bringing up this song a lot) features a ridiculous amount of tempo shifts, and they’re all surprisingly tasteful and natural despite how abrupt they are. The Simulation isn’t a perfect album - the slower tempos can become pretty one-note, and the short runtime obviously means some people will want a bit more meat - but it’s definitely the most solid album the band have put out since their initial heyday. It’s a really fun little adventure that - much like Reign in Blood - is very easy to replay again and again because of its lean length and addictive riffing.

X JAPAN Art Of Life

Album · 1993 · Progressive Metal
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Have you ever wondered about what would happen if we all had a soundtrack playing to our daily lives? Songs that represented our pain and sorrows, our triumphs and merriment, or the more complex thoughts in between? Think of the situation as a film; about 90% of the time, a wonderful soundtrack is capable of coloring a scene and making it feel larger than life, but slows down for the personal, intimate moments to balance things out.

X Japan (hailing from, you guessed it, Japan) had always been adept at capturing raw human emotional resonance in their songs, whether heavy or soft. Case in point: "I'll Kill You" from their first record Vanishing Vision was an exceptionally frenzied and violent affair a la Metallica's 80's thrash heyday, and yet "Crucify My Love" and "Tears" from their final (as of this review, but they're working on a new record) album Dahlia are quite possibly two of the most beautiful ballads to come out of their time. However, the crowning achievement in musicianship, lyrics, emotion, and just about everything else they've tapped into, is 1993's Art of Life.

First off, despite the record consisting of only the one titular song, that very song is 29 minutes, and goes through everything from speed metal, classical, symphonic music, progressive metal, power metal, pop, the works. The lyrics illustrate the vision of life and what it represents, its trials, love lost, love found, and continuing living even through any circumstance. The lyrics are impressive on their own, but mixed with Toshi's heartfelt wails, the experience feels downright cathartic. Even more impressive is how the song never loses focus; everything gels so wonderfully and nothing ever feels like extraneous baggage.

As the song begins with a longingly flowing piano line from Yoshiki, the symphonic backing grows and becomes grander by the second until Toshi belts out the first lines, and the song really gains momentum from that point on. What follows is a lightning-fast speed metal riff-fest reminiscent of Helloween's early days, and here the band start to really unfold their skills as musicians. Chaos ensues, with Toshi and everyone else engaging in a musical war; vocals fight against the blazing guitars, while the drums and bass guitar are cutting through the production cleanly and effectively.

The more intimate moments come in a few ways. One of these is the chorus, which sees several returns and lets Toshi show off his emotional side, coming close to resembling Journey's Steve Perry in quite a few of those spots. Also, in the middle of the tune, all the instruments fall out for an all-symphonic segment that could almost be expected from a grand fantasy movie like Lord of the Rings. The instruments come back in for the chorus, going for what you might think would be the end of the piece. But nope, we have a piano solo to listen to.

And holy fuck, it is amazing.

Not only is it a beautifully composed solo on its own, but the meaning behind the playing is perhaps what deserves a greater mention. The melody is simple enough; it's simple but sorrowful, a great way to inspire curiosity for what's to come. But then, as Yoshiki's playing becomes more complex, more dissonance starts to take place. The piano discord gets out of control as not one but TWO pianos are playing and overlapping one another. However, the main melody, while buried, still remains even as it takes so much heat from the rest of the madness attempting to crush it down.

To me, it's a symbol of how anything can be overcome, no matter what tragedy or pain strikes. No matter how tempting it may be to succumb to the lonesome darkness and give in, there's always that little glimmer hidden beneath the rubble, telling us we can carry on despite our past and our troubles. The solo fits that depiction so perfectly, especially when the symphonic backing fades in and takes over the discordant piano work completely. Think of the symphony as the redemption, the grand picture of promise unfolding before the listener's eyes.

After that, however, the frenzy sees a reprise as the assault of riffage bursts right in to carry the tune out. The singing is as triumphant as it can get, and the atmosphere of finality in the chorus is just, for lack of a better word, beautiful. Suddenly, the lyrics start to get even more meaningful and inspiring as the song comes to a close, and Toshi sings one last word in silence: life.

It's a sin that this album doesn't get the attention it deserves. It taps into what we think about everyday, what we feel, what appeals to us or drives us away. It's the essence of life itself and never lets the listener go until its thrilling finale. The musicianship is outstanding, the lyrics heartfelt and Toshi clearly took his time on them, and the message is brilliant and clear. I don't care if you have to buy this thing at a store, buy online, torrent it, whatever... just listen to it.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 4 months ago in The Beatles (Proto-Metal)
    The whole Sabbath vs. Priest debate based on blues roots reminds me a lot of the debate regarding the origins of death metal from thrash roots. I think the answer varies from person to person. I know many people consider Possessed's Seven Churches to be the first death metal record, but are those people comfortable with that answer when considering how much thrash is present on the album? I think it comes down to a difference of which artists connected the dots vs. which artists crystalized those innovative elements into a new concoction. If we're going with "connect the dots" albums, then Seven Churches is the first for me. If we're talking about "shedding the old elements" then Altars of Madness would probably be my ground zero.That goes back to the Sabbath/Priest debate. If you don't mind a little blues and hard rock still being involved in metal, Sabbath could be ground zero. But if you think the answer lies in who shed those old roots, then Sabbath would be proto-metal and Priest would be the first full-fledged metal band. Me personally, I go with Sabbath as the first one because I believe they took out enough of those old sounds to stand out as a new creation back in the day.
  • Posted 4 months ago in The Beatles (Proto-Metal)
    [QUOTE=siLLy puPPy]We need to remember that this IS a metal site after all and that all these fringe extras are selected for different reasons that someone deemed relevant. Personally i've never heard a Link Wray song that i considered metal but i'm not on expert on his music by any means, only heard a greatest hits or two.[/QUOTE] I will say, stuff like this is a big part of why I prefer MMA to Encyclopedia Metallum. Unlike Metallum, which has a much more narrow point of view and constantly fights over what's "true metal" or not, MMA is a lot more welcome to fringe artists that help round out the database in a meaningful way. Those fringe bands may not be 100% metal, but - whether by contribution to the genre or by having certain influences FROM the genre - they can still be recognized in a metal context and judged within the margins of the style and culture. Being honest, I've always been irritated at Metallum's unwillingness to include bands like Between the Buried and Me and Avenged Sevenfold (the quality of those bands notwithstanding) just because of elitists who think the bands are "ruining" their precious genre. Whether or not you enjoy those bands, it's pretty indisputable that they can be objectively considered metal bands (even extreme metal in the former's case)
  • Posted 4 months ago in The Beatles (Proto-Metal)
    lol, I didn't realize Link Wray's on the site. I'm not sure I agree with that inclusion 


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