Negoba

Guitar Nerd
MMA Special Collaborator · Honorary Collaborator
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 1 year ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

329 reviews/ratings
CYNIC - Traced in Air Progressive Metal | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
MR. BUNGLE - Disco Volante Metal Related | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Queensrÿche US Power Metal | review permalink
EXTREME - Extreme II: Pornograffitti Funk Metal | review permalink
ALICE IN CHAINS - Dirt Alternative Metal | review permalink
VAN HALEN - Van Halen Hard Rock | review permalink
OZZY OSBOURNE - Tribute Heavy Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
SYSTEM OF A DOWN - Toxicity Alternative Metal | review permalink
PAIN OF SALVATION - The Perfect Element, Part 1 Progressive Metal | review permalink
WHITESNAKE - Whitesnake Hard Rock | review permalink
MEGADETH - Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? Thrash Metal | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Terria Progressive Metal | review permalink
GUNS N' ROSES - Appetite For Destruction Hard Rock | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Ocean Machine: Biomech Progressive Metal | review permalink
FAITH NO MORE - Angel Dust Alternative Metal
SYSTEM OF A DOWN - Mezmerize Alternative Metal
SIEGES EVEN - The Art of Navigating by the Stars Progressive Metal

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 80 3.67
2 Progressive Metal 68 4.03
3 Glam Metal 49 3.19
4 Heavy Metal 26 3.50
5 Metal Related 15 3.77
6 Thrash Metal 13 4.04
7 Alternative Metal 11 4.14
8 Avant-garde Metal 8 3.56
9 Gothic Metal 8 3.25
10 Non-Metal 6 3.50
11 Technical Death Metal 6 4.00
12 Funk Metal 5 3.90
13 Sludge Metal 4 3.88
14 Heavy Alternative Rock 4 4.25
15 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 4 3.63
16 Groove Metal 3 4.00
17 Neoclassical metal 3 3.83
18 Stoner Metal 3 4.33
19 Traditional Doom Metal 2 4.25
20 US Power Metal 2 4.25
21 Industrial Metal 2 4.75
22 Proto-Metal 2 4.00
23 NWoBHM 1 4.50
24 Power Metal 1 4.00
25 Melodic Death Metal 1 5.00
26 Folk Metal 1 3.50
27 Symphonic Metal 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

RIVERSIDE ID.Entity

Album · 2023 · Metal Related
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
A Very Uneven Endeavor with a Few Bright Spots Riverside has been creating a unique take on progressive metal for over 20 years now based in part on Mariusz Duda's amazing voice and heavy use of Floyd-ian atmospherics. ID.Entity still has these elements, and some very solid riffage. But the band has also decided to slide in the pop / 80's direction to mixed effect. Though I don't usually review song by song, this album almost demands it as there is so much variation in approach and quality.

1. Friend or Foe - maybe it was Stranger Things. Pulling in early 80's keys is trendy and Riverside goes full in on the opening track and promo single. The song reminds a bit of the similarly intention retro 80's synthpop of the Weeknd's 2019 hit "Blinding Lights." Luckily, I think the move works here. It's a great melodic hard rock song. Hard to call it prog, besides the fact that it's (too) long.

2. Landmine Blast - my favorite song on the album. The band takes a great riff (yes a throwback to their own previous work) and trades it through different instruments and permutations almost like a classical piece. Some of the guitar solos also intentionally point back to early work (even though it's not the same player).

3. Big Tech Brother - after a clumsy, dumb spoken word intro, we get another very strong song. It opens with a great riff in odd time that almost has an R&B feel (a horn like keyboard patch is used and I can definitely hear a Tower of Power horn section taking it on). Duda uses a staccato delivery in the verses a la Haken to great effect. It has a strong aggressive rhythm, and plenty of layering. So far so good.

4. Post-Truth - here things start to slow. The lyrics, meant to be political criticism, start to sound obvious and whiney. The songs itself it pretty straight forward. Nothing wrong here but no surprises.

5. The Place Where I Belong - and we go off the rails. This epic length song has almost nothing progressive, or even interesting. The first half is quite boring. The second half is PF/PT moody and does carry some emotion, but there is absolutely no excuse for a song of this kind to be this long. There just isn't enough happening, too repetitive.

6. I'm Done with You - another relatively straightfoward rock song with bad lyrics. The main riff and intertwining parts are pretty driving and form a good groove, but the verses are boring and the chorus is bad. The "Fire Away!" section is pretty cool. The instrumental breaks toward the end are good. But like the album as a whole, really uneven.

7. Self Aware - starts with a riff straight out of the 80's that Ghost has already used with more menace and I consider them a tongue-in-cheek parody / novelty act. Not as tightly constructed as Friend or Foe, but seems to have a similar intention or inspiration. Harmless.

Perhaps that word is the best description of the album. Harmless. The first time I listened to this album I actively disliked it, probably because the last 3 tracks are the weakest. But on repeat listens, I can appreciate it. It has it spots. But overall - harmless. Not compelling. Mostly solid. A little better than meh. Not sure I would ever put this on just for enjoyment (I listen to alot just to see what's new in the world) when there is so much better music out there (even from Riverside). I may steal track 2 for a 2023 prog playlist. That's about it.

Good but really non-essential

HAKEN Fauna

Album · 2023 · Progressive Metal
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Prototypical 2020's Prog Metal Trying to do Too Much

Haken's FAUNA typifies all the sounds of modern prog metal - complex rhythms, computer perfect precision, and rapid changes in directions multiple times within the same song. Thankfully it breaks from the main by having all clean vocals. Djent-y guitars are the primary sonic element underlying Russ Jennings' emotive voice. The production is thick and compressed but the individual instrument sounds are pristine. Keys and intermittent harmony vocals add flavor along with technical guitar solos and occasional squeals and noises. There is nothing sonically surprising to any regular prog metal listener.

I saw Haken open for Symphony X last year and was probably as excited to see them as the headliner. However, I was somewhat disappointed in spite of spending a lot of time listening to the setlist ahead of time. All the usual prog metal elements were there and well executed, but everything seemed to blend together as many of the songs didn't have enough of their own identity. The band had a stock repertoire of sections - riffy opener, big drop to an intimate verse, high energy chorus, trippy bridge, breakdowns, all in very odd time. The cut and paste feel included "Nightingale" from this album which was already on the setlist by that time. The exception was long time favorite "Cockroach King" from what I consider the band's high water mark, THE MOUNTAIN. My initial listen to FAUNA was similar disappointment. Too much kitchen sink on every song, not enough melodic hooks or themes that anchored an individual track.

The good news is that on multiple listens, FAUNA has gotten much better for me. Some of the songs definitely have their own identities like the poppy synths of "Alphabet of Me" and the heavy pop prog of "Lovebite" being times where I thought the band was trying to forge their own identity. But things go awry with "Elephants Never Forget." This song typifies where Haken tries too hard, does too much in one song, gets lost in their own attempt to outprog them all. The band clearly has an affinity for Gentle Giant, but during "Elephants" the first verse is almost a direct quote. It is almost exactly like "Cogs in Cogs" or "Knots." I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it is an homage. Fine. But in the same song Russ Jennings seem to impersonate Korn's Johnathan Davis, and there are instrumental sections where my ear immediately said "There's Devin Townsend, there's Dream Theater." I went back to the lyrics to see if perhaps the theme of the song was remembering the ones that led you to where you are now, which would be an interesting musical idea. Perhaps that was part of their intent but apparently it's about "Leviathan of Doggerland." To their credit, the "I Remember" refrain is the most memorable melodic element in the whole album, and it does bind the piece together.

Now, after quite a few spins, I actually like FAUNA quite a bit. There are some really great parts and some great ideas. The performances are at a very high level. But it also seems quite flawed, not knowing exactly what it wants to be. I actually went back to THE MOUNTAIN and listened again to make sure I wasn't misremembering. Indeed, the songwriting was SO much better, the album more coherent, I didn't forget. They have it in them. So how to rate? Trying to bind all that together, I'm landing on 3/5.

CLOUDKICKER The Discovery

Album · 2008 · Progressive Metal
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Post Rock Djent Hybrid is Pure Pleasure

Of all the bands to spawn an entire new genre, Meshuggah is that last one I would have picked. I was not a big fan of the first examples I heard of the Djent sound ("Bleed" from obZen) though I certainly recognized there was something new and intense in the music. The hyper precise down-tuned math metal has spread and while I still dislike the version with harsh/screamed lyrics, some of the instrumental versions of Djent are the freshest things happening in music right now.

Cloudkicker is the name for the instrumental djent project of home recording artist BM Sharp. (There are actually several one man projects in the genre). Sharp leans heavily on post-rock ideas and the atmospheric quality melded with brutal riffing makes both sounds better. Cloudkicker's debut, THE DISCOVERY, is in my opinion his best work because of it is the most hybrid. While there are great riffs and furious technique on this album, it is most of all a sonic adventure. It is a scene, it is images, it is MUSIC!!! While a lot of post-rock (and virtually all post-metal) bores me to tears, the riffs add energy to the builds and drops. Conversely, unlike every other piece of metal I've ever listened to, this album virtually never makes me think as a guitar player. And the guitar playing is phenomenal. When I finish this album, I feel like I've been taken on a great journey.

This is a 4+ album that I'm just not quite ready to push into masterpiece rating. But only the Animals as Leaders album is better in the whole genre, and that includes the entire Meshuggah catalog. Nothing even from Sharp himself has matched his debut. Sometimes the freshness of the ideas gives a piece of music a special kind of life and I believe that is the case on THE DISCOVERY.

CLOUDKICKER Beacons

Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Losing Steam, We're Going Down, Mayday!

One man djentleman Ben Sharp, aka Cloudkicker, named most of the songs on this album after lines that might be uttered in the cockpit of crashing plane. While the explosion is not imminent, BEACONS feels like a vessel that's running out of steam. I loved Sharp's first offering, THE DISCOVERY, and he's certainly continued to create some solid music on subsequent EPs and now this, his second full album. But there's something missing. The riffs are actually tighter, the production is a little sharper, but ironically, there's actually less sense of danger on this record than this first. Where the DISCOVERY really seemed to take me on an emotional journey, I often find that BEACONS has played all the way through and I didn't even notice it.

For newcomers to Cloudkicker, don't be scared off. Sharp makes some of the best djent / post- rock fusion out there, and it's free! (well if you want it to be, voluntary pricing). I prefer his work alot to related artist Chimp Spanner, and Sharp has disposed almost completely with most of the djent movement's metalcore leanings. The music is moody and atmospheric, but heavy. It's what post-metal was meant to be, and occasionally approaches. But it's better. The riffs are more interesting, the passages less monotonous (most of the time), and the musicianship obviously very careful. This last element, one of the most specific and common of all the math- metal types, is what really grabs me. There is nothing sloppy here at all, and unfortunately many metal bands delight in their slop.

I've read that BEACONS is actually Sharp's most atmospheric and varied album to date and on very careful listen it is. As is common, as I give closer attention, my inclination is to move my rating from a 2 to a 3. Sharp is still giving us good stuff. He's certainly matured a bit, but the process has robbed as much fire as it has added nuance for this particular listener. Others clearly disagree.

I've made my point. Get THE DISCOVERY first, move forward. If you enjoy that, you'll still get something out of BEACONS.

OPETH Still Life

Album · 1999 · Progressive Metal
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Melodic Progressive Death Metal Concept Album ? Yes!!!

After immersing myself in Opeth over almost 3 years ago, I'd taken a break for awhile. Recently, however, I've been dabbling in harder death and extreme metal, and felt a need to return to some of my old favorites and see what my impression was now. I was completely and totally blown away. Opeth is more harmonically complex, melodically sophisticated, and emotionally expressive than any other metal band of its kind and perhaps ever. STILL LIFE represents the band just reaching full maturity and taking a risk by making a cohesive story / concept album. Though previous albums had consistent themes, STILL LIFE is a death metal tragedy about an exiled man returning home to retrieve his love with typical terrible Greek styled consequences.

In a genre that loves altered minor keys and dissonance, Opeth bandleader Mikael Akerfeldt utilizes harsh harmony like no other. One of Opeth's trademarks is riffing on complex chord shapes rather than power chords and from the brilliant opener "The Moor" on through to the closer "White Cluster" the thick texture of this style puts Opeth's stamp all over the music. Of course the other signature element is the transition from the crushing prog death metal to an acoustic prog with Akerfeldt's ethereal vocals. On this album, the Mikael is really just starting to ramp up the latter part of the Opeth sound. This freshness gives the ballad-y "Benighted" and "Faces of Melinda" a legitimacy that some of the later purely clean Opeth songs lack. In fact, from a songwriting point of view, I don't think any Opeth album is as strong top to bottom as STILL LIFE. I do a lot of mix and match of Opeth tracks on every other album. Not this one.

Of all the labels attached to Opeth, there will arguments against almost all of them except one. This band is clearly prog. Where many Death metal bands use time changes jarringly, few (especially before Opeth's rise in popularity) used seamless changes into complex time with such musical purpose. Opeth also employs epics to great effect, moving the listener through multiple stages of development with completely new musical ideas often appearing seven or eight minutes into a song, as in "Godhead's Lament," "Serenity Painted Death," and most strikingly in "the Moor."

The only criticism I have for this album is that the record is still young. The production has some issues (vocal echoes, etc.) and in fact I like the live version of "Faces of Melinda" a little better. Even more striking is how much Mikael's vocals have improved in the 10 years since this record was released. The Ghost Reveries version of the band would have made the record nearly perfect. Still, this is a minor quibble.

Like it or not, if you want to listen to the cutting edge in metal these days, you have to get used to some harsh vocals. Mikael's are among the best so Opeth is an easy entry point. I still can't say I enjoy them, but after seeing Opeth live, there is no denying their power. Neil Young and Bob Dylan's vocals aren't exactly pleasant either but also have an emotive power once one gets used to them. (Mikael will never be the poet either of these men are, but neither man has produced music 1/10th as complex as Opeth either).

So if you can imagine beautiful death metal alternating multiple time signatures, riffs both crushing and grooving, complex harmony, and medieval balladry all combined into a story- album, you get an idea of the prog-feast that is STILL LIFE. Within metal, this is the definition of 5/5 star album.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 1 year ago in Somewhere in Time
    This was the first real heavy metal album I owned. I had a few glam/pop metal albums and ZZTop before that, but this was my first intro. The album art is awesome and I remember sitting with the insert reading lyrics - the classic story from old farts.Wasted Years is rightfully one of their all time greatest hits and it's a solid album overall. But it does get a little same-y once you listen all the way through. I still think Queensryche borrowed some ideas from this album for Mindcrime.
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Top 3 Worst Metal album covers!
    Cover art The computer-generated cover art for the album was provided by David Patchett, but he asked to be removed from the credits because he was not satisfied with the result. The version used was actually a prototype provided by Patchett, but the band decided to use it in its incomplete form. Upon close inspection, one can note several of errors: The character on the far right looking out of the picture appears to have a broken neck. The white dog is standing on the snake underneath it. The baby's foot is cutting into the dog and appears more to be suspended in mid-air than sitting on a wolf. The small child character at the front on the left is standing on the other characters foot. The character doing a back-flip on the left of Eddie has a dislocated shoulder, his left hand is also against his right arm instead of on the floor and the back-flipping character's right leg is dislocated.[1]
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Animals as Leaders and Scale the Summit
    Done, ok to close thread....

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