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Paul
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1462 reviews/ratings
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LED ZEPPELIN - Led Zeppelin Hard Rock | review permalink
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LED ZEPPELIN - Physical Graffiti Hard Rock | review permalink
SAVATAGE - Hall Of The Mountain King Traditional heavy metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Made In Japan Hard Rock | review permalink
KING'S X - Gretchen Goes To Nebraska Hard Rock | review permalink
OPETH - Watershed Progressive Metal | review permalink
RUSH - A Farewell to Kings Hard Rock | review permalink
VOIVOD - Killing Technology Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
SLAYER - Reign in Blood Thrash Metal
PANTERA - Cowboys From Hell Groove Metal
RUSH - Hemispheres Hard Rock
RUSH - 2112 Hard Rock
OPETH - Ghost Reveries Progressive Metal
IRON MAIDEN - Powerslave NWoBHM
MONTROSE - Montrose Hard Rock
KING CRIMSON - Red Proto-Metal

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Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 293 3.59
2 Death Metal 172 3.80
3 Progressive Metal 128 3.76
4 Traditional heavy metal 128 3.55
5 Thrash Metal 113 3.75
6 Non-Metal 68 3.32
7 Doom Metal 59 3.84
8 Melodic Death Metal 55 3.65
9 Technical Death Metal 55 3.90
10 Glam Metal 48 3.23
11 Proto-Metal 43 3.70
12 Black Metal 41 3.78
13 Brutal Death Metal 29 3.72
14 Metal Related 26 3.75
15 US Power Metal 22 3.68
16 NWoBHM 19 3.68
17 Groove Metal 18 3.64
18 Power Metal 17 3.82
19 Alternative Metal 17 3.29
20 Stoner Metal 14 3.93
21 Melodic Black Metal 13 3.81
22 Atmospheric Black Metal 11 3.50
23 Speed Metal 8 3.56
24 Death 'n' Roll 6 3.08
25 Funeral Doom Metal 6 3.42
26 Gothic Metal 6 3.42
27 Funk Metal 5 3.40
28 Death-Doom Metal 5 3.80
29 Avant-garde Metal 4 3.63
30 Hardcore and crust 4 3.25
31 Sludge Metal 4 4.25
32 Symphonic Metal 4 3.25
33 Symphonic Black Metal 3 4.17
34 Folk Metal 3 3.83
35 Industrial Metal 2 3.50
36 Mathcore 2 4.00
37 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2 3.75
38 Nu Metal 2 2.50
39 Grindcore 2 3.75
40 Metalcore 2 3.75
41 Neoclassical metal 2 3.75
42 Crossover Thrash 1 3.00

Latest Albums Reviews

ARGUS From Fields of Fire

Album · 2017 · Traditional heavy metal
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My introduction to Argus came with their second album, Boldly Stride The Doomed, an album that received such universal praise it was impossible to not want to check it out. My initial impressions were good but it was to take a few plays before it really hit home with its combination of doom and old school metal. After a while though I couldn’t leave it alone and it became a firm favourite in my collection. Its follow up, Beyond The Martyrs arrived in 2013 and listening to that after BSTD I have to admit it was a bit of a disappointment. Yes, it was good, sometimes very good but they’d reduced the doom element which might have been part of the reason but overall some of the songs lacked that killer punch, only occasionally reaching the greatness of its predecessor.

Roll on to 2017 and From Fields Of Fire arrives on my doorstep. See, I still had enough faith to buy it without hearing first and I’m very happy to say that I don’t regret it. After the short acoustic instrumental Into The Fields Of Fire, Devils Of Your Time is a good omen of what’s to come. The old school metal vibe of past work is retained as it moves along at a fair pace, rolling double kick drums pushing it along overlaid by compelling staccato riffing and a well thought out solo, i.e., not just a blur of fast notes. Brian ‘Butch’ Balich’s vocals are the icing on the cake, an excellent singer in the classic 80’s metal mould of which there aren’t enough of these days. This is epic stuff! The galloping As A Thousand Thieves is more of the same, maintaining the momentum and only marginally missing the mark set by Devils Of Your Time. As the album progresses it becomes clear that the doom element that added greatly to Boldly Stride The Doomed has been pretty much ditched, but this time it’s not missed as they’ve really upped their game on the strength of the compositions as one after another the hook laden songs keep coming. By today’s standards this is not particularly heavy when you compare it to the more extreme metal that’s prevalent. This album screams 1980’s in style and delivery and if it had come out then it would have seemed heavier and they’d have been massive. However, there’s not too many bands doing this stuff, particularly so well, at the moment so it’s like a breath of fresh air with an organic production in keeping with the vibe.

This album beats Beyond The Martyrs, not only because the songs are better but also with its sheer consistency, with no weak tracks to speak of. As with most albums though it has its highlights. One of these comes mid album with the eleven minute plus Infinite Lives, Infinite Doors which has plenty in common with Iron Maiden in their more epic moments – the Maiden comparisons being nothing new to this band. This dynamic and dual guitar work of Dave Watson and Jason Mucio is key to this and indeed the whole albums overall success. Another highlight is the slow build of No Right To Grieve, the only time anything approaching doom appears. For the most part its slow and melancholic and whilst it throws in a few doomy power chords it’s not doom per se.

Argus have really excelled expectations here. I never doubted it would be good but with From Fields Of Fire they’ve made an album at least the equal of Boldly Stride The Doomed. Some may even think it better. For me, I’m on the fence.

ARCH ENEMY Will to Power

Album · 2017 · Melodic Death Metal
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When Angela Gossow left Arch Enemy in 2014 it could have quite easily been the end of the band but in came Alissa White-Gluz and stamped her mark on the War Eternal album with an impressive and professional performance as if she’d been there all along, such was the seamless transition. War Eternal whilst having a few weaker moments robbing it of greatness was nevertheless a solid melodic death metal album with a plentiful supply of hooks and strong riffs. Shortly after War Eternal was released former Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis joined the band and I was eager to hear what the first studio album to feature him would be like as he never failed to impress me with his incredible playing in Nevermore.

Will To Power will not hold any surprises (well there may be one) for fans of the band as for the most part it’s pretty much business as usual. Loomis as expected proves to be a great addition with plenty of jaw dropping shredding. Musically it’s a similar mix of melodic death/power metal as War Eternal and equally good. After the short intro Set Flame To The Night, The Race comes in firing on all cylinders featuring compelling riffing and a fantastic Loomis solo proving immediately what a great addition he is and is a good omen of great things to come hopefully. Like War Eternal however there are one or two less than stellar moments. I’d already heard The World Is Yours and the first thing that struck me about it was how much better it would have worked with clean melodic vocals on the chorus. A bone of contention I sometimes have with melodic death metal, at least when it really ups the melody quotient is how much better it could sometimes be with clean vocals. Of course some melodic death metal bands already mix it up and do it but I know it could be sacrilege to some fans of the band. Well what do you know, on the semi-ballad Reason To Believe White-Gluz sings cleanly and bugger me, she’s really good too. Maybe they didn’t want to over-do it and risk alienating a sizeable part of their audience but a bit more of this could have raised the bar on a couple of the songs. As a song it’s not one of the best but the vocals save it. The Eagle Flies Alone is merely an ordinary piece of mid-paced melodic metal. If a strong vocal melody had been added it could have been so much more. Now don’t get me wrong, Ms White-Gluz is a perfectly able growler and it works fine on the more balls out stuff and I’m not suggesting that all death metal bands should go and get a more traditional singer, as I said I’m just talking about the particularly melodic stuff.

Anyway enough controversy and back to the album. Overall I’d say the second half is the strongest – Murder Scene kicks ass and I always enjoy a galloping kick drum pattern as used on First Day In Hell. In fact there’s no shortage of good songs with strong hooks on side two of my vinyl copy with no weak moments to speak of. My Shadow And I is particularly impressive with drummer Daniel Erlandsson putting in a particularly fine performance. Album closer A Fight I Must Win is another highpoint with its memorable riffing and groove and the brief addition of strings to the intro and outro add some colour.

Hats off to Arch Enemy for not being afraid to use clean vocals then. If I was them I’d expand on this next time as they’re a strong and welcome addition. Not essential then, but nevertheless Will To Power is another very good album that whilst unlikely to be the favourite of most people who’ve followed the band shouldn’t disappoint either. I’m still waiting though for the masterpiece that I know they have in them.

CONTRARIAN To Perceive Is To Suffer

Album · 2017 · Technical Death Metal
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Any album that features George Kollias on drums is always going to pique my interest. One such album is this, To Perceive Is To Suffer, the second full length album from progressive/technical death metallers Contrarian.

Despite the death metal tag to call them that would be over simplifying things. This is not surprisingly really complex stuff indeed and contains elements of jazz rock/fusion amongst the more extreme metal traits. The sound is surprisingly sparse with each instrument clear as a bell, much of the guitar work is relatively cleanly played underpinned by a toppy bass sound and of course George Kollias’s relentless drumming onslaught. Imagine Watchtower if they’d been a death metal band, throw in some latter day Death and you won’t be a million miles away. With Kollias taking on vocals as well, as expected they’re of the death growl persuasion most of the time. The exception being At Fate’s Hands which is cleanly though somewhat weakly sung. Each musician excels in his chosen field with plenty of jaw dropping instrumental work from all with constantly shifting rhythmic structures and blistering lead work. The only problem, as is the case with much of this sort of stuff is lack of memorability. Sure, you can’t reasonably expect an immediate hit from music this complex but it’s an album I admire rather than love, even after a number of plays. Still there’s no denying the skill involved in putting together compositions of this nature and it’s largely for that reason and the excellent musicianship that it warrants 3 ½ stars, ½ a star more than I originally was feeling it deserved.

INCANTATION Profane Nexus

Album · 2017 · Death Metal
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2017 has been a great year for New York death metal. We’ve had brilliant albums from Immolation and Suffocation and now comes Profane Nexus from Incantation. Arguably between them they are the three most important and best death metal bands to come from the region.

What can I say about Incantation that hasn’t already been said? Not a lot really. There’s no sudden shift of style or sound here, just Incantation doing their thing. These guys are just so fucking heavy with a sound so thick and dark if it was treacle you’d be sucked under unable to move a muscle. Like their two other New York contemporary’s mentioned above they have rarely put a foot wrong, consistency being the key word. Profane Nexus is the latest in a line of great albums and where it sits in terms of favourites will be down to the individual. There’s the usual mix of blast beat driven sometimes blackened death metal riffs with the slower doomier moments never less than crushingly heavy capped by John McEntee’s low guttural growl. I must admit that I’m not the biggest fan of death growls when they get this low and unintelligible but there’s no denying they suit the dark depths the music takes you too. On a musical level though I have few complaints. Kyle Severn’s inventive drumming is definitely worth a mention and McEnfee is joined on guitar by the welcome addition (though he always does a great job on his own) of lead guitarist Sonny Lombardozzi. The bottom end is kept suitably heavy by Chuck Sherwood’s pummelling bass work. The only weak moment comes with Incorporeal Despair which is one of their slow doom based songs but down to the sparse sound is not as crushingly heavy as I like my Incantation and drags somewhat. Apart from that, highlights? Take your pick but for diversity Visceral Hexahedron encapsulates everything that’s great about this band.

Profane Nexus is another winner from Incantation and after getting on for thirty years these guys are still on top of their game which takes some doing. In a year with many excellent death metal albums Incantation are up there with the best of them.

THRESHOLD Legends Of The Shires

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
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I’ve followed Threshold for most of their career and during that time they’ve released some truly excellent albums. There have also been a few treading water moments that were always at least solid but they’ve never released a bad album for sure. Pick of the bunch for me would be 2001’s Hypothetical and March Of Progress from 2012. It was on these that they got the balance just right between the progressive and metal elements as well as some damn fine songs that as well as packing considerable punch contained strong melodies. Now of course melodic progressive metal has always been these guy’s style but I found 2014’s For The Journey, whilst not a disaster by any means, a little ordinary after March Of Progress. It also marked the last album to feature vocalist Damian Wilson. To most bands this would be a major blow but fortunately they were able to recruit former Threshold vocalist from the Psychedelicatessen (I spelt that without checking – impressive hey!) era Glynn Morgan. That was another excellent piece of work from the band and probably their least prog album. Ironically Morgan has returned for their most progressive album yet and I’m pleased to say it joins that elite club of Threshold favourites for me.

Legends Of The Shires is a long album – a double no less stretching to over an hour and twenty minutes. It could have gone pear shaped but fortunately Threshold mainstays Karl Groom and Richard West have crafted some of the best songs of their career. Bassist Steve Anderson also gets a look in composing On The Edge, one of the less proggy moments, but a good driving piece of metal nonetheless. An album of this length needs diversity, dynamics plenty of time/tempo changes to keep the listeners attention for this long and they’re in no shortage here. One of the albums strengths is the inventive use of melody with sometimes clever twists and turns taking the song in an unexpected direction. This happens both vocally and musically with some excellent solos from West and Groom, his searing guitar work impressive as always. Morgan proves to be an inspired choice and a more than worthy replacement for Wilson. He’s nearer to sadly deceased former singer Andrew “Mac” McDermott in style and able to deliver a strong melody with plenty of power. The material ranges from the acoustic intro of The Shire (Part 1), the obligatory ballad in State Of Independence to the heavier Threshold metal like Small Dark Lines and Superior Machine. Much of the material as is the way with more progressive songs contains elements of all the above, no better exemplified than in the two longest compositions – The Man Who Saw Through Time and Lost In Translation. Both are album highlights, the latter in particular blowing me away, but there’s still no shortage of diversity in some of the relatively shorter pieces with some compelling twists driven by the excellent drumming of Johanne James.

By upping the prog quotient this is not one of the heavier Threshold albums which is not a problem at all for me, especially with melodies this strong. There’s not a weak moment on the entire album – okay The Shire (Part 3) is a bit throwaway but it only lasts just over a minute. Anyone who has a liking for Threshold should love this. The only problem is how they are going to top it next time.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 22 hours ago in The Necromancers (Stoner/Doom/Heavy Metal)
  • Posted 22 hours ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V2
    ^ This new one definitely one of their better ones for me.
  • Posted 23 hours ago in Paradise Lost
    First Paradise Lost album I ever bought was Draconian Times on the basis of a review I read at the time of release. When One Second came out I bought it straight away and was expecting more of the same but surprised at the change of sound which was more clinical with synths. Being more difficult to check albums out back then I wasn't aware of their earlier death doom sound until much later and after One Second I didn't check anything out for quite a while. Time has made me appreciate it more though I still don't love it.Difficult to say my favourite as I can't even remember what some of those albums sound like as well as a few I've never heard even once. At the moment The Plague Within would probably be my choice. Can't think of any other albums of theirs I've enjoyed so much but I've been revisiting a few and trying some new (to me) ones. So far nothing beats it. Nightfly2017-09-25 14:45:33

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