Andrew Carter
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Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit more than 2 years ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

330 reviews/ratings
OPETH - Blackwater Park Progressive Metal
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME - The Great Misdirect Progressive Metal
BURST - Lazarus Bird Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Images and Words Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory Progressive Metal
IN THE WOODS... - Live at the Caledonien Hall Progressive Metal
INDUKTI - S.U.S.A.R. Progressive Metal
INDUKTI - Idmen Progressive Metal
MADDER MORTEM - Deadlands Progressive Metal
MASTODON - Crack The Skye Sludge Metal
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL - Leaving Your Body Map Avant-garde Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - For Lies I Sire Doom Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - The Perfect Element, Part 1 Progressive Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - 12:5 Non-Metal
RIVERSIDE - Anno Domini High Definition Progressive Metal
TO-MERA - Earthbound Progressive Metal
VIRGIN BLACK - Requiem: Mezzo Forte Gothic Metal
THE PAX CECILIA - Blessed Are The Bonds Metal Related | review permalink
DARK SUNS - Grave Human Genuine Progressive Metal | review permalink
KAYO DOT - Choirs Of The Eye Avant-garde Metal | review permalink
FEN - Epoch Atmospheric Black Metal
UNEXPECT - Fables of the Sleepless Empire Avant-garde Metal
LEPROUS - Bilateral Progressive Metal
OPETH - My Arms, Your Hearse Death Metal
ALCEST - Écailles de lune Atmospheric Black Metal
AMBEON - Fate of a Dreamer Progressive Metal
CANVAS SOLARIS - Cortical Tectonics Progressive Metal
CULT OF LUNA - Somewhere Along The Highway Atmospheric Sludge Metal
CYNIC - Traced in Air Progressive Metal
DEATH - Individual Thought Patterns Technical Death Metal
DEATH - Symbolic Technical Death Metal
DEATHSPELL OMEGA - Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum Black Metal
DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA - Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious Avant-garde Metal
DISILLUSION - Back to Times of Splendor Melodic Death Metal
DRAWN - A New World? Gothic Metal
DREAM THEATER - Awake Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Live Scenes From New York Progressive Metal
DRUDKH - Кров у наших криницях (Blood in Our Wells) Atmospheric Black Metal
ENSLAVED - Isa Black Metal
EPICA - The Divine Conspiracy Symphonic Metal
GIANT SQUID - The Ichthyologist Sludge Metal
GOJIRA - From Mars to Sirius Death Metal
GRAYCEON - This Grand Show Progressive Metal
IN THE WOODS... - Heart of the Ages Atmospheric Black Metal
IN THE WOODS... - Omnio Progressive Metal
INTRONAUT - Prehistoricisms Atmospheric Sludge Metal
ISIS - Wavering Radiant Atmospheric Sludge Metal
KAMELOT - The Black Halo Power Metal
LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT - Liquid Tension Experiment 2 Progressive Metal
MADDER MORTEM - Desiderata Progressive Metal
MASTODON - Blood Mountain Sludge Metal
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL - Bath Avant-garde Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - Songs of Darkness, Words of Light Death-Doom Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - Entropia Progressive Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - Remedy Lane Progressive Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - Ending Themes: On the Two Deaths of Pain of Salvation Progressive Metal
PROTEST THE HERO - Kezia Melodic Metalcore
PSYCHOTIC WALTZ - Into The Everflow Progressive Metal
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: LIVEcrime Progressive Metal
SIEGES EVEN - The Art of Navigating by the Stars Progressive Metal
SUSPYRE - When Time Fades... Progressive Metal
SYMPHONY X - V: The New Mythology Suite Progressive Metal
THE GATHERING - How to Measure a Planet? Non-Metal
THE GATHERING - if_then_else Non-Metal
THRESHOLD - Clone Progressive Metal
THRESHOLD - Critical Energy Progressive Metal
TO-MERA - Delusions Progressive Metal
TOOL - Lateralus Progressive Metal
UNEXPECT - In a Flesh Aquarium Avant-garde Metal
VANDEN PLAS - The God Thing Progressive Metal
VIRGIN BLACK - Elegant... and Dying Gothic Metal
EBONYLAKE - On the Eve of the Grimly Inventive Avant-garde Metal
RAM-ZET - Intra Avant-garde Metal
YAKUZA - Of Seismic Consequence Progressive Metal
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - Linoleum Non-Metal | review permalink
OPETH - Watershed Progressive Metal | review permalink
OPETH - Orchid Death Metal
OPETH - Still Life Progressive Metal
ABYDOS - The Little Boy’s Heavy Mental Shadow Opera About The Inhabitants of His Diary Progressive Metal
ALTAR OF PLAGUES - White Tomb Atmospheric Black Metal
ANATHEMA - Judgement Non-Metal
ANIMALS AS LEADERS - Animals as Leaders Progressive Metal
ARCTURUS - La Masquerade Infernale Avant-garde Metal
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath Heavy Metal
BLOTTED SCIENCE - The Machinations of Dementia Progressive Metal
BORKNAGAR - Origin Non-Metal
BORKNAGAR - Universal Progressive Metal
BURST - Prey On Life Metalcore
BURST - Origo Hardcore Punk
CALLISTO - Noir Atmospheric Sludge Metal
CANVAS SOLARIS - The Atomized Dream Progressive Metal
CONTROL DENIED - The Fragile Art of Existence Progressive Metal
CULT OF LUNA - Salvation Atmospheric Sludge Metal
CULT OF LUNA - Eternal Kingdom Atmospheric Sludge Metal
CYNIC - Focus Technical Death Metal
DEATH - Human Technical Death Metal
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Terria Progressive Metal
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Ki Metal Related
DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA - The Butcher's Ballroom Avant-garde Metal
DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE - Death's Design Black Metal
DREAM THEATER - Train of Thought Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Systematic Chaos Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Live at Budokan Progressive Metal
DYSRHYTHMIA - Psychic Maps Metal Related
EDGE OF SANITY - Crimson Melodic Death Metal
ENSLAVED - Ruun Black Metal
ENSLAVED - Vertebrae Progressive Metal
EPHEL DUATH - The Painter's Palette Avant-garde Metal
EPICA - Design Your Universe Symphonic Metal
FATES WARNING - A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Progressive Metal
GIANT SQUID - Metridium Fields Sludge Metal
GOJIRA - The Way of All Flesh Death Metal
GRAYCEON - Grayceon Progressive Metal
IHSAHN - After Progressive Metal
IN LINGUA MORTUA - Bellowing Sea - Racked by Tempest Symphonic Black Metal
IN THE WOODS... - Strange in Stereo Progressive Metal
IRON MAIDEN - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son Heavy Metal
IRON MAIDEN - Brave New World Heavy Metal
ISIS - Panopticon Atmospheric Sludge Metal
LEPROUS - Tall Poppy Syndrome Progressive Metal
LESBIAN - Power Hör Sludge Metal
LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT - Liquid Tension Experiment Progressive Metal
LIVING COLOUR - Stain Funk Metal
LIVING COLOUR - Collideøscope Funk Metal
MADDER MORTEM - All Flesh Is Grass Progressive Metal
MASTODON - Leviathan Sludge Metal
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL - My Fruit Psychobells... A Seed Combustible Avant-garde Metal
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL - Secret Song Avant-garde Metal
MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT - Quietly Atmospheric Sludge Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - A Line of Deathless Kings Doom Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - The Dreadful Hours Death-Doom Metal
NEGURĂ BUNGET - OM Atmospheric Black Metal
NIGHTINGALE - The Closing Chronicles Progressive Metal
NIGHTWISH - Angels Fall First Symphonic Metal
NIGHTWISH - Once Symphonic Metal
NIGHTWISH - 1997-2001 Power Metal
NINE INCH NAILS - The Fragile Metal Related
NOEKK - The Grimalkin Progressive Metal
PAGAN'S MIND - Celestial Entrance Progressive Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - One Hour by the Concrete Lake Progressive Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - BE Progressive Metal
PELICAN - The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw Atmospheric Sludge Metal
PROTEST THE HERO - Fortress Melodic Metalcore
PSYCHOTIC WALTZ - A Social Grace Progressive Metal
PSYCHOTIC WALTZ - Bleeding Progressive Metal
QUEENSRŸCHE - Rage For Order Heavy Metal
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal
RIVERSIDE - Rapid Eye Movement Metal Related
ROSETTA - A Determinism Of Morality Atmospheric Sludge Metal
RUSSIAN CIRCLES - Enter Metal Related
SUSPYRE - A Great Divide Progressive Metal
SYMPHONY X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy Progressive Metal
SYMPHONY X - Paradise Lost Progressive Metal
TESA - Heartbeatsfromthesky Atmospheric Sludge Metal
THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL - Tears Laid in Earth Doom Metal
THE 3RD AND THE MORTAL - Painting on Glass Metal Related
THE GATHERING - Mandylion Gothic Metal
THE GATHERING - Superheat Non-Metal
THE GATHERING - Sleepy Buildings: A Semi Acoustic Evening Non-Metal
THRESHOLD - Hypothetical Progressive Metal
THRESHOLD - Dead Reckoning Progressive Metal
TO-MERA - Transcendental Progressive Metal
TOOL - 10,000 Days Progressive Metal
VANDEN PLAS - Beyond Daylight Progressive Metal
VANDEN PLAS - Christ 0 Progressive Metal
VANDEN PLAS - The Seraphic Clockwork Progressive Metal
VIRGIN BLACK - Sombre Romantic Gothic Metal
VOIVOD - Nothingface Progressive Metal
WASTEFALL - Self Exile Progressive Metal
WATCHTOWER - Control And Resistance Technical Thrash Metal
WINDS - Prominence and Demise Progressive Metal
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - Two Hunters Atmospheric Black Metal
ZERO HOUR - Dark Deceiver Progressive Metal
ZU - Carboniferous Avant-garde Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - Turn Loose the Swans Death-Doom Metal
AKPHAEZYA - Anthology II : Links from the Dead Trinity Avant-garde Metal
RAM-ZET - Escape Avant-garde Metal
RAM-ZET - Neutralized Avant-garde Metal
PECCATUM - Lost in Reverie Avant-garde Metal
ENSLAVED - Axioma Ethica Odini Progressive Metal
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME - The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues Progressive Metal
THE OCEAN - Precambrian Atmospheric Sludge Metal
HAND - Breathing Progressive Metal
HAKEN - Visions Progressive Metal
DARK SUNS - Existence Progressive Metal | review permalink
OPETH - The Roundhouse Tapes Progressive Metal
AGALLOCH - The Mantle Folk Metal
AGHORA - Aghora Progressive Metal
ANATHEMA - A Natural Disaster Non-Metal
ARCTURUS - The Sham Mirrors Avant-garde Metal
ARK - Burn the Sun Progressive Metal
ATHEIST - Unquestionable Presence Technical Death Metal
BEHOLD... THE ARCTOPUS - Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning Progressive Metal
BEYOND TWILIGHT - For the Love of Art and the Making Progressive Metal
BLACK SABBATH - Paranoid Heavy Metal
BLACK SABBATH - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Heavy Metal
BLIND GUARDIAN - Nightfall in Middle-Earth Power Metal
BORKNAGAR - Epic Progressive Metal
CACOPHONY - Speed Metal Symphony Neoclassical metal
DARK SUNS - Swanlike Death-Doom Metal
DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE - Nightwork Melodic Black Metal
DØDHEIMSGARD - Supervillain Outcast Industrial Metal
DOMINICI - O3: A Trilogy, Part 2 Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - When Dream and Day Unite Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence Progressive Metal
EPICA - Consign to Oblivion Symphonic Metal
FATES WARNING - Perfect Symmetry Progressive Metal
FRANTIC BLEEP - The Sense Apparatus Progressive Metal
GORDIAN KNOT - Gordian Knot Progressive Metal
GREEN CARNATION - Journey to the End of the Night Progressive Metal
ISIS - Oceanic Atmospheric Sludge Metal
ISIS - In The Absence Of Truth Atmospheric Sludge Metal
KAMELOT - Epica Power Metal
MADDER MORTEM - Mercury Doom Metal
MINSK - The Ritual Fires of Abandonment Atmospheric Sludge Metal
MR. BUNGLE - Disco Volante Metal Related
MY DYING BRIDE - The Light at the End of the World Death-Doom Metal
NIGHTWISH - Dark Passion Play Symphonic Metal
NINE INCH NAILS - The Downward Spiral Metal Related
NOVEMBRE - Materia Gothic Metal
PATHOSRAY - Pathosray Progressive Metal
PLANET X - MoonBabies Progressive Metal
RIVERSIDE - Out Of Myself Metal Related
SIEGES EVEN - Steps Progressive Metal
SIGH - Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien Symphonic Black Metal
SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM - Of Natural History Avant-garde Metal
SYMPHONY X - Twilight In Olympus Progressive Metal
THE GATHERING - Nighttime Birds Gothic Metal
THE GATHERING - Home Non-Metal
THE GATHERING - Downfall: The Early Years Death-Doom Metal
THE GATHERING - Accessories Non-Metal
THRESHOLD - Wounded Land Progressive Metal
THRESHOLD - Subsurface Progressive Metal
TOOL - Ænima Alternative Metal
VANDEN PLAS - Far Off Grace Progressive Metal
WATCHTOWER - Energetic Disassembly Technical Thrash Metal
WINTERSUN - Wintersun Power Metal
ZERO HOUR - The Towers of Avarice Progressive Metal
ZERO HOUR - Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond Progressive Metal
SHINING - Blackjazz Avant-garde Metal
IN THE WOODS... - Three Times Seven on a Pilgrimage Progressive Metal
AGE OF SILENCE - Complications: Trilogy of Intricacy Progressive Metal | review permalink
OPETH - Ghost Reveries Progressive Metal | review permalink
OPETH - Morningrise Death Metal
BEHOLD... THE ARCTOPUS - Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning Progressive Metal
BLACK SABBATH - Master Of Reality Heavy Metal
CENTRICA - Centrica Progressive Metal
CULT OF LUNA - Cult Of Luna Sludge Metal
DEADSOUL TRIBE - A Murder Of Crows Progressive Metal
DEEP PURPLE - Deepest Purple: The Very Best Of Deep Purple Hard Rock
DEREK SHERINIAN - Blood of the Snake Progressive Metal
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Accelerated Evolution Progressive Metal
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Addicted Alternative Metal
DREAM THEATER - Falling Into Infinity Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Progressive Metal
EPICA - The Phantom Agony Symphonic Metal
FANTÔMAS - Suspended Animation Avant-garde Metal
IRON MAIDEN - Dance Of Death Heavy Metal
KAMELOT - The Fourth Legacy Power Metal
MADDER MORTEM - Eight Ways Progressive Metal
MASTODON - Remission Sludge Metal
MEKONG DELTA - Visions Fugitives Progressive Metal
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning Thrash Metal
MOONSORROW - Suden uni Folk Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - As the Flower Withers Death-Doom Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - 34.788%... Complete Doom Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - Like Gods of the Sun Doom Metal
MY DYING BRIDE - The Angel and the Dark River Doom Metal
NIGHTWISH - Oceanborn Power Metal
NIGHTWISH - Wishmaster Power Metal
NOVEMBRE - Novembrine Waltz Gothic Metal
ORPHANED LAND - Mabool: The Story of the Three Sons of Seven Folk Metal
PAIN OF SALVATION - Scarsick Progressive Metal
PELICAN - City Of Echoes Metal Related
PELICAN - What We All Come To Need Atmospheric Sludge Metal
PESTILENCE - Spheres Technical Death Metal
PSYCHOTIC WALTZ - Mosquito Progressive Metal
QUEENSRŸCHE - Empire Progressive Metal
RIVERSIDE - Second Life Syndrome Metal Related
ROSETTA - The Galilean Satellites Atmospheric Sludge Metal
RUSH - Permanent Waves Hard Rock
RUSH - A Farewell to Kings Hard Rock
RUSH - 2112 Hard Rock
SHADOW GALLERY - Room V Progressive Metal
SIEGES EVEN - Uneven Progressive Metal
SPASTIC INK - Ink Compatible Thrash Metal
THE GATHERING - Always... Death-Doom Metal
THE GATHERING - Souvenirs Non-Metal
THE GATHERING - The West Pole Non-Metal
THE MORNINGSIDE - The Wind, The Trees And The Shadows Of The Past Death-Doom Metal
THRESHOLD - Critical Mass Progressive Metal
VANDEN PLAS - Spirit of Live Progressive Metal
VIRGIN BLACK - Requiem: Fortissimo Death-Doom Metal
HAKEN - Aquarius Progressive Metal
ISIS - Celestial Atmospheric Sludge Metal | review permalink
KAYO DOT - Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue Avant-garde Metal | review permalink
ANATHEMA - A Fine Day to Exit Non-Metal
AYREON - Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer Metal Related
DREAM THEATER - Black Clouds & Silver Linings Progressive Metal
GREEN CARNATION - Light of Day, Day of Darkness Progressive Metal
KATATONIA - Dance of December Souls Death-Doom Metal
LACRIMOSA - Echos Gothic Metal
NEUROSIS - Through Silver In Blood Atmospheric Sludge Metal
PAGAN'S MIND - Infinity Divine Progressive Metal
SIEGES EVEN - A Sense of Change Progressive Metal
THERION - Theli Symphonic Metal
WINDS - Reflections of the I Progressive Metal
AGE OF SILENCE - Acceleration Progressive Metal | review permalink
AFTER FOREVER - After Forever Symphonic Metal
DREAM THEATER - Octavarium Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - A Change of Seasons Progressive Metal
KAMELOT - Ghost Opera Symphonic Metal
MESHUGGAH - Chaosphere Progressive Metal
MOONSPELL - Under Satanæ Gothic Metal
NIGHTWISH - Over the Hills and Far Away Symphonic Metal
SYMPHONY X - The Odyssey Progressive Metal
OPETH - Damnation Metal Related | review permalink
ANATHEMA - Alternative 4 Metal Related
AYREON - Into the Electric Castle Progressive Metal
AYREON - 01011001 Progressive Metal
GREEN CARNATION - The Quiet Offspring Progressive Metal
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime II Progressive Metal
OPETH - Deliverance Progressive Metal | review permalink
AYREON - Universal Migrator, Part 2: Flight of the Migrator Progressive Metal
SUNN O))) - Black One Drone Metal

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 143 3.73
2 Avant-garde Metal 23 4.07
3 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 19 3.74
4 Metal Related 15 3.43
5 Non-Metal 14 3.79
6 Symphonic Metal 11 3.18
7 Death-Doom Metal 11 3.41
8 Gothic Metal 10 3.65
9 Heavy Metal 8 3.63
10 Sludge Metal 8 4.00
11 Power Metal 8 3.50
12 Doom Metal 7 3.64
13 Atmospheric Black Metal 7 4.36
14 Technical Death Metal 6 3.92
15 Death Metal 5 4.00
16 Black Metal 4 4.25
17 Hard Rock 4 3.00
18 Folk Metal 3 3.17
19 Metalcore 3 4.17
20 Thrash Metal 3 3.50
21 Technical Thrash Metal 2 3.75
22 Symphonic Black Metal 2 3.75
23 Funk Metal 2 4.00
24 Melodic Death Metal 2 4.25
25 Melodic Metalcore 2 4.25
26 Alternative Metal 2 3.25
27 Drone Metal 1 1.00
28 Industrial Metal 1 3.50
29 Melodic Black Metal 1 3.50
30 Hardcore Punk 1 4.00
31 Neoclassical metal 1 3.50
32 NWoBHM 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

KAYO DOT Choirs Of The Eye

Album · 2003 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
By 2003 it had become clear to Toby Driver that the premise of maudlin of the Well, creating music through Astral Projection, had been pushed as far as it could go and further albums would only serve to cover the same musical ground. So maudlin of the Well was dissolved and Toby Driver lead half the band on to form this group, Kayo Dot. Some people have said that Kayo Dot is a logical progression of maudlin of the Well's music but I don't see that as the case, maudlin of the Well were a metal band with avant guard tendencies, but still primarily rooted in metal, but here on Choirs of the Eye a large leap of faith has been made by the band to produce an avant guard album that blends metal with jazz, classical and the odd hint of post-rock/metal (though nowhere near as much as some people would have you believe) and incorporated that into a framework that's both composed but also feels part improvised, dissonant but making plentiful use of harmony.

The opening song, Marathon, demonstrates this perfectly, with a crashing, dissonant intro that signals the beginning of something special in no uncertain terms. This assaults you for a few minuets before dissolving back into a much more gentle tune that leads out the song. A Pitcher of Summer seems to work in the opposite way, starting off very quite with just the acoustic guitars and Toby's singing before quickly building into a musical crash of brilliant proportions. Its amazing how much can be shoe-horned into such a short song and have it all work so very well. The centre piece of the album, The Manifold Curiosity, ranks as one of my all time favourite compositions from any band, and still holds as my favourite Kayo Dot piece. The reason? It flows magnificently reaching three climaxes in its 14:30 minutes through different routs, first having all the band playing a very melodic, fairly heavy tune that grows in strength before its culmination and falling away to become a sole acoustic guitar, this time building up much slower and adding a touch of the dissonance that has been very prominent so far on the album. After this second climax the violin of Mia Matsumiya leads the final build, joined by the as usual excellent guitar work of Toby Driver and Greg Massi, and the band works to just increase the raw power exponentially creating an almighty ending. It actually reminds me of King Crimsons Starless with the way it just builds up for 4-5 minutes but with a far more effective explosion at the end, and the last time the Death metal semblance will come into Kayo Dot. By now, more than half way through the album, it has become clear that their is another distinction between maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot, the complete lack of the characteristic jaw dropping solo's of Greg Massi, though that's not to say this album is devoid of solo's, their just more subtle than before. This will come as a big surprise to anyone finding Kayo Dot after maudlin of the Well, as I did, but you quickly get over it in finding that the band use their technical expertise in a different way, to build textures and harmonies similar to the post-rock/metal bands but coming at it from a very different angle. I could go on rambling about the last two songs on here but I don't want to add another 1000 words to this review so I'll just say that Wayfarer and The Antique use the first techniques and styles as the first three songs but arrange them unique ways, to create five unique compositions that have helped to build up an amazing album. This is at once compositionally more complex and experimental than Bath/Leaving Your Body Map but doesn't get their by forsaking melody and harmony, despite a penchant for dissonance, and maintains a distinct level of emotion to the music that is at once noticeable. An absolute must have album and one of the best I have ever hear.

DARK SUNS Grave Human Genuine

Album · 2008 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Dark Suns return with this, their third album Grave Human Genuine, and in doing so have given us an absolute gem. The shortest way to describe this album would be the beautiful melancholic atmosphere of Opeth's Blackwater Park mixed with the emotional impact of Pain of Salvation's The Perfect Element Part 1, a combination that creates something very much all of their own. The reference to Pain of Salvation is particularly relevant to this album as the bass player is none other than Kristoffer Gildenlow, former bassist for Pain of Salvation.

The album opens with the short instrumental Stampede which serves to give a distinct hint as to what is to come. Stampede flows into what is arguably the albums finest track, Flies in Amber, a track that shows greatly how the band create their sonic style here on Grave Human Genuine, by using the guitars and keyboards (Thomas Bremer being particularly fond of the MIDI flute sound that goes a long way to create the haunting atmosphere) to create a dark, melancholic and sometimes menacing, at others haunting, atmosphere whilst using the bass of Gildenlow and vocals of Nico Knappe, as well as the occasional guitar solo, to add the emotional impact that defines this album, though I'm not sure how Schmidt contributed additional rage to this song. The distinct quiet-to-loud build up that the band use is repeated, though most certainly not with any copy and paste repetition from Flies in Amber, through Thornchild and Rapid Eyes Moment using distinct compositional changes to avoid any chance of the songs sounding samey. Amphibian Halo is where they add a fair bit of experimentation with electronics, particularly with drum sounds and mixing them with acoustic drums in a similar way to King Crimson's more recent "observations". The (relatively) lighter atmosphere here makes this an enjoyable listen. The Chameleon Defect takes the ethos of light-to-heavy to extremes by using a very mellow, light-hearted and jazzy melody which comes to an abrupt halt and blasts into a cacophonous wall of thrashing metal riffs and pounding drums, before doing the same in reverse and starting over again before dropping the mellow factor further and fading out the song. For the last two songs of the album, Dark Suns perform an impressive feat of maintaining the dark and melancholic atmosphere without being particularly heavy AND without it feeling like you've just changed album. Free of You uses a beautiful melody that builds in intensity without really getting much heavier until the end and Papillon uses a string quartet to dominate the opening of the song before the band kicks in and finishes the album with a flourish.

Now, I'm not normally a fan of bonus tracks as, with the exception of live tracks, they tend to be songs that deserved to be cut from the final take, demo's, mildly interesting or just plain bad covers, radio edits and in the case of live tracks, sometimes they are poorly recorded. 29 does not fall into any of those categories, in fact its one of those very rare animals, a bonus track of very high quality. In itself it actually feels slightly different to the rest of the album as its not metal at all, instead its a very nice smooth, jazz rock number of a quality equal to that of the rest of the album, and most certainly doesn't stand out as being out of place. There are two final notes I'd like to make about this album before I finish, and they concern Kristoffer Gildenlow and drummer/vocalist Nico Knappe. Gildenlow makes a welcome return to the progressive metal world here, his first such album since Pain of Salvations BE, and in actual fact gives his best performance since Remedy Lane. His playing here is rather different to what he did for Pain of Salvation as he isn't supporting the intricate compositions of his brother, Daniel Gildenlow, but to a style that is unique to himself and adds brilliant depth to the atmospheres here. He adjust brilliantly and simply thrives in with the band, its a shame that he wont be a full time member (as far as I know). Knappe here has adjusted his vocal style to use far less of the growls that he did very well on the bands debut, Swanlike, even going as far as limiting them to a few lines on Flies in Amber, and instead gives a very delicate vocal delivery that proves that you don't always have to like the lyrics for them to be turned into poetry. This is not to belittle the other musicians on here, all of which gave excellent performances and lack nothing for skill, but I thought these two points needed mentioning.

From a band that started off as almost an Opeth clone, though an extremely good one, they have matured into their own identity here and produce one of the best albums of 2008.

OPETH Damnation

Album · 2003 · Metal Related
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
An unusual album this, for the type of band, and very much unique in Opeth's discography. Its not uncommon for Death and Black Metal bands to take a one time only step away from their standard fair and create an acoustic, or at least none-metal, album. For many of the Scandinavian bands they usual way of going about this is to make an album of folk songs reflecting their regions musical heritage. In Opeths case, Akerfeldt decided that following some of the bands main influences in Progressive Rock would make for a far more interesting take on the non-metal-album-by-a-metal-band concept. And so it is that as the albums opening track, Windowpane, comes to a close you can tangibly feel the influence of Camel and Pink Floyd here in the music, whilst it still tries to maintain a distinctly Opeth like mood to the album. To a point, its also been successful at this, keeping a constantly melancholic, even maudlin, atmosphere to the music reminiscent of the excellent Blackwater Park, though created in a very different way. Different is certainly the operative word here as this is most certainly NOT a metal album. There are no heavy riffs, no crunching guitar work, no frantic double-bass drumming, no speedy bass licks and, shock horror, no growling either. Its that last point that probably will have the most meaning here to anyone that isn't familiar with Opeth because the growls have been a signature part of the bands sound right from the start, but then this was always going to be a more than standard album.

So, how good is the album then? Well, its only a partial success to be honest. Yes, it successfully manages to separate itself from anything the band has done before or since, but you cant help but think why? Opeth are an amazing band because of the sheer contrast between heavy and soft, smooth and sharp, light and dark, and that's missing here. Because of the lack of contrast the constantly maudlin mood never gets let-up on, nor is it ever allowed to make much use of dynamic, all the music is at the same tempo, the same volume and as a result becomes all too bland all too quick. In fact, that's not entirely true, the closing track, Weakness, is particularly slow but that's the only diversion from the norm. Mercifully the songs have been kept short here, with Windowpane the only one to reach past 7 minutes, and this helps keep the album to clock in at only 45 minutes but it still feels like its dragging on too long. The only real problem I have with any one particular song is the closing to Closure, its far too sudden with no stop before Hope Leaves starts, which has a very different tune to it. Its disconcerting, but in a bad way because I cant help but feel that its a bit wrong.

In the end, the music on here isn't bad in small doses, but all together it drags on and feels too samey to give it any lasting effect on me, with Windowpain being the only track on here that I could conceivebly listen to more than once a month and like it. Still, its much better than the very disappointing Deliverance.

OPETH Deliverance

Album · 2002 · Progressive Metal
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Blackwater Park was the seminal piece for Opeth and was always going to be a very difficult act to follow up with. To the bands credit, they knew that going with a Blackwater Park 2 would not have been the right decision. The result was the creation of two albums, Damnation and this one, Deliverance, that showcased the separate sides of Opeth. Damnation, released a year after Deliverance, showed up the bands lighter, softer side but on here, its an all out attack. If anything, though, this album is a bit of a step back, reminiscent of the bands first two albums, Orchid and Morningrise, more than any of their others, though it has the clear and precise production of Steven Wilson behind it. The songs are all long, most over 10 minutes, and the softer and acoustic side of the band is kept to a minimum here with the heavy metal intensified over what they normally do. The result is the heaviest and most brutal album in Opeth's discography. In itself, this wouldn't actually be a bad thing but the problem is, it hasn't been executed too well, the main problem being the length of the songs. With the exception of For Absent Friends, which is less than 2:30s, the songs are all at least several minutes too long, normally the result of one or two sections per song (quite often around 2/3ds of the way through the song) being extend far past their usefulness. Another point is that atmosphere is in short supply on here. My Arms, Your Hears, Still Life and Blackwater Park are all brilliant albums because of the tangibly melancholic atmosphere to them, yet this is completely lacking here, like they made no attempt to go for it. It may be that they didn't want to, at least not in a similar way to previously, but they were exceptional at it so the sudden dropping off of this quality in their music is keenly felt. My one other main gripe is that Master's Apprentice was set up to be a classic song in Opeth's repertoire, but was ruined by the excessive and tasteless over indulgence in the double-bass drumming at the start, something that is so out of touch with what the other three musicians are doing that I cant help but wander if Martin Lopez was paying attention at all. The first crack in his armour that led to him leaving the band, perhaps?

It would be a bit disingenuous to say this was a terrible album, because there are several parts of wonderful music, for instance Master's Apprentice is largely a very good song, as is Wreath and Deliverance, but there isn't a single full length track on here without some kind of flaw to it, whether it be overextended sections or inappropriate playing. I touched on the lack of atmosphere earlier and the major cause of its absence, I believe, is the fact that Damnation and Deliverance should never have been recorded as they were. Opeth's brilliance comes entirely from contrasts between heavy and soft, smooth and coarse, and separating out these two aspects has not led to excellent music, in both cases you feel like something is missing. I rate Deliverance less than Damnation simply because it has more problems, but neither gets much listening from me.

THE PAX CECILIA Blessed Are The Bonds

Album · 2007 · Metal Related
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When bands release their work for free, you cant help but wonder if you're only going to get a series of cheaply recorded demos that are going to sound horrible, regardless of how good the band are. However, the moment this album landed on my doorstep I had the distinct feeling that wasn't going to be a problem as the initial impression comes from the packaging. Even the cardboard postal packaging had the bands unique artwork adorning it and the album itself, a proper glass-pressed CD and not a CD-r, came in a wonderfully designed digi-pack (sadly the album is nolonger available in physical format, you have to download it off the bands website now). A good start then, and I hadn't even put it in the CD player. From the first listen this is clearly a well composed album with a beautiful piano melody taking the lead and facilitating an impressive build up, primarily of strings and drums with the guitars kept to the background. Clearly this is not your average post-metal album with instrumentation seemingly focused on piano and strings for a few songs, metal on a few more, an electronic soundscape that perfectly encapsulates the title The Wasteland and finally an ability to mix several of these almost disparate elements together. This distinctive mix of diverse sounds and there subsequent mixing is definitely one of the two biggest strengths of this album. the other is a deft touch with building the songs here, so that nothing is ever over or under done and that tension is built up and released perfectly.

Sitting here writing this now, 3 years on from the release of this impressive album, its clear to me that this doesn't just stand out in a year of below average album releases but its one of the best releases of the decade. The songs on here don't just stand out as indavidual pieces of brilliance, but each track flows from one to the next in such a way that the transition from the piano/drums/strings dominated opening pieces of The Tragedy and The Tomb Song to the more heavy metal of The Progress and The Machine, and so on, is so natural that the album is very organic in its feel and works best as one cohesive piece of art. In effect this creates an album where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and is definitely at its best when listened to in its entirety. Its shocking that an album of this quality can be made and yet remain so obscure, and more so that the band is willing to give it away for free and survive on donations. My only question is for this masterpiece, is where do they go next, because this is one hard act to follow.

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