Necrotica

Brendan Schroer
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Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 14 days ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

1238 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
PORCUPINE TREE - Signify Non-Metal
DEATH - Symbolic Technical Death 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
X JAPAN - Art Of Life Progressive 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

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Thrash Metal 108 3.75
2 Progressive Metal 104 3.79
3 Hard Rock 102 3.50
4 Heavy Metal 102 3.47
5 Non-Metal 97 3.48
6 Heavy Alternative Rock 74 3.71
7 Death Metal 71 3.77
8 Alternative Metal 56 3.78
9 Power Metal 54 3.68
10 Melodic Death Metal 40 3.58
11 Technical Death Metal 35 3.84
12 Nu Metal 33 3.24
13 Metalcore 30 3.18
14 Deathcore 30 2.88
15 Metal Related 23 3.93
16 Proto-Metal 20 3.90
17 Technical Thrash Metal 18 4.28
18 Hardcore Punk 16 3.84
19 Avant-garde Metal 15 4.03
20 Black Metal 14 4.07
21 Melodic Metalcore 14 3.68
22 Mathcore 13 4.08
23 Groove Metal 13 3.65
24 Funk Metal 12 4.04
25 US Power Metal 12 3.63
26 Sludge Metal 11 4.00
27 Grindcore 11 3.27
28 Symphonic Black Metal 10 3.90
29 Rap Metal 9 3.78
30 Symphonic Metal 8 3.63
31 Brutal Death Metal 8 3.88
32 Crossover Thrash 8 3.75
33 Glam Metal 7 3.50
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 3 4.17
42 Melodic Black Metal 3 4.17
43 Death-Doom Metal 2 4.00
44 Goregrind 2 3.50
45 Stoner Metal 2 4.00
46 Stoner Rock 1 4.00
47 Viking Metal 1 4.00
48 Folk Metal 1 4.50
49 Funeral Doom Metal 1 4.50
50 Doom Metal 1 4.00
51 Atmospheric Black Metal 1 4.00
52 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50
53 Heavy Psych 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

KATATONIA The Fall Of Hearts

Album · 2016 · Alternative Metal
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A common thread you wind up finding in every Katatonia album is that every one of them exhibits a different kind of melancholy. Each expression of that one emotion changes with each stylistic shift or altered lyrical approach, but either way, the melancholy still returns in some way. Perhaps it comes in the form of desperate wails and screams over crushing doom-laden riffs (Dance of December Souls). Maybe it can be found in gritty imagery involving the ills of crime and street life (Viva Emptiness). Alternately, the looming darkness of orchestral strings and mellotrons could seal the deal (Dead End Kings). But when it comes to The Fall of Hearts, the dreary atmosphere is expressed somewhat… differently. It might come down to a lack of metal influences this time around, but there’s an unusually surreal and dreamlike touch to the music. The songs are sad, yes, but also given a sort of levity and weightlessness by the shimmering clean guitars and light piano melodies that coil around the increasingly progressive rhythms. Jonas Renkse has channeled his sorrows through more passionate vocal passages (just listen to the chorus of “Last Song Before the Fade”!) while the music surrounding him has become more abstract compared to past efforts.

Really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not like this progressive influence is just out of the blue; the last few records, especially Dead End Kings, were already hinting at this bold new direction. But I suppose the fascinating thing about The Fall of Hearts is just how well they pulled off those influences. Instead of the crunchy, churning alternative metal riffs that dominated a good chunk of the band’s career, there’s now more respect and care given to the atmosphere than ever before. If you ever hear a downtuned metal riff (“Takeover,” “Passer,” “Serac,” and “Last Song Before the Fade” still bring the heaviness to a degree), you can be sure that a beautiful slow passage will be just around the corner to counteract the aggression. “Serac,” for instance, brings a fresh melding of progressive metal and soft rock that’s not too dissimilar to Opeth’s best works from the early 2000s (minus the growls, of course). Then you have “Passer,” which kicks off with a shredding guitar solo over a rapid-fire galloping snare rhythm before it almost immediately dies down to give us one of the most emotionally potent verses the band have ever concocted. It’s not that the band have lost their edge, but that they simply reserved it for the best moments this time around. And really, a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that Katatonia didn’t really subscribe to a set songwriting formula this time around. The arrangements are quite labyrinthine and unpredictable compared to what we’re used to from these guys, and the opening 7-minute track “Takeover” is an immediate example of this. This mini-epic takes you in so many directions in such little time, from a beautiful dreamlike intro/refrain to a rousing metal section to a deeply orchestral chorus to a stunning piano break. Add to that a killer guitar solo from newcomer Roger Ojersson on top of that, and you’ve got one of the best openers in recent memory.

In fact, let’s talk about those newcomers for a second. Guitarist Roger Ojersson and drummer Daniel Moilanen were a huge asset to the sound The Fall of Hearts would ultimately adopt and cultivate, as their technical proficiency allowed the band to work outside of their typical framework a bit more. The solos in “Takeover,” “Passer,” and especially the harmonized portion of “Serac” are incredible ways to build on songwriting that already takes pride in taking listeners on a real journey. Meanwhile, Daniel absolutely kills on the drumkit. His grasp of varying time signatures and subtle dynamics is just impeccable, and he can shift styles with ease to fit each mood perfectly. As for the songwriting, however, you may notice in the credits that it’s all Jonas Renkse and Anders Nystrom as usual. Maybe that’s the most fascinating thing about The Fall of Hearts, really. Just the fact that these two had it in them to make this record all along, but they simply needed the right circumstances and band members to make it happen. If you want a good marker of just how much they’ve evolved as songwriters, just take into account the fact that “Pale Flag” and “Shifts” are minimalist folk rock ballads with almost none of the band’s typical sonic trademarks present, and yet they’re not out of place in the slightest. But then again, nothing on The Fall of Hearts is out of place; it’s just the sound of a fully-evolved, fully-realized Katatonia that was always trying to break free from the mire of comfortable familiarity.

RIVERS OF NIHIL Where Owls Know My Name

Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal
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In the 23 years I've spent on this planet, Where Owls Know My Name may be the most frustrating album I've ever encountered. Somewhere within this behemoth of a record, there lies an amazing journey that's equal parts harsh and melancholic; unfortunately, all of the external baggage caused by the inconsequential songwriting and sterile production robs it of its power. What's really sad is that, initially, all the ingredients to make this a masterpiece are in place. We're presented with incredible technical abilities from the musicians, lots of emotional potency in the performances, and an experience that's clearly striving to elevate the world of progressive death metal to something more ambitious and impactful. However, Where Owls Know My Name just goes in one ear and out the other and quickly becomes a dull grind akin to background noise.

The lack of dynamic range may actually be the biggest culprit here, especially as far as the metal sections go. There never seem to be any discernible climaxes or moments of catharsis, as the waves of guitar distortion and compressed production just wash over any sense of sonic variety. The best moments of variation and emotional weight come in the form of the album's quieter segments, such as the subtle keyboard-driven opener "Cancer/Moonspeak" or the beautiful saxophone break in "The Silent Life." But even these types of segments tend to be undercut by the generic riffing and djent-oriented chugs that kill both the pacing and ambition of the album. The entire first half of "Old Nothing" is crammed with intrusive blastbeats and dull deathcore riffs that ruin the album's sense of progression, as well as killing any potential atmosphere that could make it interesting. On top of that, quite a few moments just sound out of place and... well... ugly. "A Home" sounded great during the opening guitar chords, and the band didn't really need to throw a giant mess of triggered drum acrobatics all over it. Really, the majority of the metal in this experience is defined by strikingly similar chord progressions and tempos being glazed with gutless melodic noise that fills the treble end, while some chugs and mid tempo drum progressions try to fill in the cracks of the low end. That's basically the metal-oriented material in a nutshell, and it defines most of the tracklist. It's really easy to tune out of this album as it's playing, and very few moments really manage to gain one's attention back in a significant way.

Still, I'll give credit where it's due. Some moments still manage to be breathtaking, most notably that gorgeous acoustic intro to "Subtle Change." The song sounds like a real expedition, as the melodic bass traverses across the ample terrain of the rolling drums... there's a lot of 70s prog influence on this one, and it's one of the only songs in which the loud and quiet moments aren't too intrusive to each other. There's also a nice cleanly sung ballad intro that kicks off the title track, reminding me a lot of Paul Masvidal's vocals in the last few Cynic records. Finally, the last track "Capricorn/Agoratopia" cleverly brings the album full circle by using the intro track and giving it more fleshed-out instrumental accompaniment to drive the final mini-epic home. It's a decent way to conclude Where Owls Know My Name; I just wish the journey to get there was worth it.

It's not that the album comes off as misguided, but rather it sounds inconsequential and dull. If it was reduced to about 30-35 minutes and given an EP format, I might recommend it to fans of progressive death metal or even post metal. But in its current state, it happens to be arduous, overbearing, and boring all at the same time.

METALLICA St. Anger

Album · 2003 · Thrash Metal
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St. Anger is a bad album. St. Anger has no solos. St. Anger has irritating and off-key vocals from James Hetfield. St. Anger has an horrible-sounding snare drum. But none of these points are a revelation, clearly. We’ve all heard these criticisms uttered countless times, and Metallica fans often point to it first (well, either this or Lulu) when they talk about the band losing their touch. It’s gotten to the point that other bands’ failures - such as Morbid Angel’s Illud Divinum Insanus and now Machine Head’s new album Catharsis - are being considered their respective artists’ versions of St. Anger. Indeed, it has that reputation. So why am I even bringing any of this stuff up?

Because I want to focus on intent. One quote from James Hetfield really struck me: “St. Anger is just the best we can do right now.” If you’ve never checked out the background behind the album (see: Some Kind of Monster), the history behind its conception is one giant shit-show. Jason Newsted left the band, James Hetfield was going into rehab as his alcoholism reached its breaking point, the band received backlash due to a lawsuit with Napster, and the group even hired a therapist to help them with their emotional struggles. But what’s even more important is that St. Anger was intended as a return to Metallica’s garage band roots, which explains the lack of solos. In Kirk Hammett’s words: "We wanted to preserve the sound of all four of us in a room just jamming.” As butchered and broken as the final product sounds, I can’t stress how much of a passionate piece of music the whole thing is. It’s such a deliberate attempt to avoid the mainstream hard rock trappings of Load and ReLoad to capture something from their distant past, and that’s where my admiration for it truly comes from. Many of us were in a shitty garage band back in our youths, sounding like ass but thinking we were true badasses as we played covers of our favorite bands. Hell, I was in one of those shitty bands myself! I briefly sang in a short-lived rock band in my junior year of high school, belting out such classics as “Seven Nation Army” and “Beast and the Harlot.” I don’t really talk to my old bandmates anymore, but those memories are always going to be part of me no matter where I go. For better or for worse (well, certainly for worse, but still…), St. Anger gives me the same feelings.

The album has a distinct fury and aggression that seem genuine, stemming from the band’s actual struggles and frustrations in their personal lives. Metallica was a very broken band at the time, and sometimes the best way to reboot your career is to start from ground zero and rebuild your sound from there. St. Anger is ground zero, much like the band’s pre-Kill ‘Em All days were their original ground zero. This is Metallica in their purest, most unhinged form. It may be ugly, badly written, and just fucking horrible in its overall presentation, but it also holds a place in my heart because of the exact same reasons. This is an awful, messed up, glorious, phenomenal disaster.

INCUBUS (CA) Morning View

Album · 2001 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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From time to time, you have that certain album that just defines you. Whether it’s from the standpoint of location, personal history, or correlation with friends, some music becomes an extension of our personalities and identity. And with this particular record, we’re talking about a piece of music that introduced me to an entirely new world (figuratively speaking). Not only is Morning View a beautiful throwback to my extensive history in California, but it was basically the impetus to alternative rock becoming one of my all-time favorite genres. This was a serious game-changer upon first listen, and every subsequent listen just revealed more manifold layers of meaning and technical prowess. Even today, it’s hard not to be impressed by how many levels Morning View entertains and impresses on.

But let’s backtrack for a second. Earlier on, I stated the album is “a beautiful throwback to my extensive history in California,” and that doesn’t just apply to my own history with the record. This applies to the sound as well. There’s a distinct vibe Morning View brings out, one of waves and sunny skies. Even in its most heavy and distorted moments (and there are several, as the album still warrants the “alternative metal” tag), a calm zen-like atmosphere still reigns supreme with this experience; it’s meditative and tends to ebb and flow like the aural representation of a quiet ocean. But that’s not a knock against the diversity that Incubus brings to the table… in fact, this might just be their strongest balance of soft and heavy elements to date. Whereas S.C.I.E.N.C.E. wore its eccentric influences on its sleeve (although in some incredibly cool ways) and Make Yourself still carried over some faint traces of the band’s nu-metal roots, Morning View just feels like a more centered and balanced piece of work. It’s often gorgeous, such as the pipa-driven ebbs and flows of the oriental ballad “Aqueous Transmission” or the delicate clean-guitar intro to the expansive power ballad “Just a Phase.” But these moments are almost always offset by the strident, heavy power chords that define many of the other numbers here. Opener “Nice to Know You” doesn’t take much time making itself known, storming the speakers with a crunchy Drop-D riff that really sets the mood for the album to come. “Circles” is even more intense, immediately diving into a groove that’s almost impossible not to headbang to - even in the most melodious moments of the piece. But when the fantastic power ballad “Wish You Were Here” comes in, we get a lot more perspective on the album’s strengths. Basically, it’s all a yin/yang thing. Both extremes are respectful of each other and don’t interfere with each others’ boundaries.

If anything, many of the heavy moments are used as building blocks on the quiet foundations, performing in a fashion not unlike a good deal of post-metal. There are certainly short bursts that come around, such as the metallic banger “Have You Ever,” but much of Morning View’s beauty lies in how the dynamics blend. It lies in how each volume level communicates with one other to get to the finish line, much like how instruments “talk” to one another in improvisational jazz music. Perhaps the reason this album was so resonant with me was because it taught me the importance of atmosphere and how it can be created. In both concept and execution, Morning View is a true cornerstone as far as combining atmosphere with songcraft goes. It simulates the crashing of the California waves and the serenity of an empty beach with its own interpretations, giving us powerful slabs of alternative metal with strong doses of melody and expansive arrangements. Even one of the tightest, funkiest songs on here, “Are You In,” compliments its catchy groove with a laid-back and peaceful vibe that fits the rest of the tracklist. And really, that’s what Morning View gives me every time I hear it: peace. Relaxation. Ease. It feels like a burden being lifted off the shoulders and into the ocean. It sounds like a spiritual and mental cleansing. And it plays like the best moments of one’s past returning in an overwhelming emotional release. This is musical rejuvenation.

THE FACELESS In Becoming a Ghost

Album · 2017 · Technical Death Metal
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Up until now, my relationship with The Faceless had been a slowly deteriorating one. When I first heard Planetary Duality and Akeldama back in 2009, I thought it was the heaviest, fastest, and most technical shit on the planet. The intricate guitar harmonies, the frenzied drumming, and varied vocal work made it clear to me that we were witnessing a fantastic new beacon for technical death metal. Throw in some progressive rock influences and some creepy sci-fi interludes for good measure, and things just got more interesting. But sadly, Autotheism ruined the good will built up by many fans. It wasn’t an awful album, but it sounded disjointed and undercooked by the band’s standards. And of course, lead guitarist and (I guess) figurehead Michael Keene’s ego seemed to be getting in the way of the band’s future. So it’s pretty safe to say that I was approaching In Becoming a Ghost with much more caution than usual. Luckily, I’m pleased to report that my fears have mostly been erased.

In Becoming a Ghost is largely defined by a more cinematic, progressive identity than its predecessors, and it can be considered the band’s furthest removed from their original sound. But, bizarrely enough, this isn’t as much of a problem as you’d think. The experimentation is wrapped up in song structures and lyrical themes that are both engaging and tight, and the progressive elements serve more to bolster the atmosphere than be an excuse to noodle around. As if the haunting piano part of the intro title track wasn’t cool enough, we get to hear some killer tech-death flute melodies (!) and full-on symphonic passages in its followup “Digging the Grave.” That’s not to say the aggression is absent, though; Abigail Williams vocalist Ken Sorceron is more than enough to fill the shoes of Derek Rydquist with his strong mix of guttural growls and black metal shrieks. The riffs are still quite punishing in parts too, especially in the killer tremolo-picked riff that kicks of “The Spiralling Void.” But the difference between this album and Autotheism is that it seems to have more purpose to it. I get the sense that the band members genuinely put their all into this one, and that they really wanted to experiment around with what they thought was cool. Oftentimes, the framework surrounding the riffs is just as interesting as the riffs themselves, such as the weird staccato bass stabs that dance around the guitar intro of “I Am” or the deranged orchestral breaks in “Shake the Disease.” As for the problems with the album, I only have two major ones. One is, as in Autotheism, that Michael Keene’s voice gets way too much time in the spotlight. Remember when his voice would pop up very sparingly in Planetary Duality to add a little extra atmosphere and variety" Well, he sings in just about every track here. And, simply put, his voice is just boring. His inflections make him sound uninterested with the subject matter, and he draws attention away from the far superior performances of Ken Sorceron. Also, while the band’s technical skills are still impressive, the riffs aren’t the most memorable around. This has been a problem with past Faceless records, but sometimes the band get so caught up in their experimentation and technicality that their riffs don’t really stick with you very well. But maybe that’s because In Becoming a Ghost will need a bit more time to sink in. Regardless, it’s impressive what they accomplished here. It seems as though the band are getting closer to fully realizing their potential as a progressive death metal band; it’s just time that they tightened up their songcraft... and perhaps let Michael Keene stick to just his guitar playing and songwriting.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 1 year ago in Bricks are Heavy
    Had to go with Everglade, which is still one of my all-time favorite grunge songs. The entire album is a fucking masterpiece though
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V2
    [QUOTE=UMUR] http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/album/gojira/magma[/QUOTE] Nice! How are you liking it? I know a lot of people aren't too into it, but I think it's fantastic. It might be more simplistic, but the post-metal elements and emotional weight make it a really good record in my eyes (or ears, I guess) 
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Punk recommendations?
    Bad Religion, The Exploited, Refused, At the Drive-In, Splendora, Big Black, Helmet (their early work is more hardcore-oriented), L7, Tijuana Sweetheart, Anti-Cimex, Discharge, Disclose, Turbonegro, The Bronx, Minor Threat, Against Me!, Supergrass (although they're more like a mix of Britpop and punk, they're absolutely fantastic), Dismemberment Plan (they combine indie rock, post-hardcore, and math rock), Urban Waste, Government Issue, Local H, Sleater-Kinney, Captain We're Sinking, The Dwarves, Botch, 7 Year Bitch, The Gits, and many more. I could go all day 

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