Warthur

MMA Metal Reviewer · Metal Reviewer
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1743 reviews/ratings
BLACK SABBATH - Black Sabbath Heavy Metal | review permalink
BLACK SABBATH - Paranoid Heavy Metal | review permalink
THE STOOGES - Fun House Proto-Metal | review permalink
THE STOOGES - Raw Power Proto-Metal | review permalink
BLUE ÖYSTER CULT - Secret Treaties Hard Rock | review permalink
KISS - Alive! Hard Rock | review permalink
JUDAS PRIEST - Sad Wings Of Destiny Heavy Metal | review permalink
RUSH - A Farewell to Kings Hard Rock | review permalink
RUSH - Permanent Waves Hard Rock | review permalink
MOTÖRHEAD - Ace of Spades Heavy Metal | review permalink
RUSH - Moving Pictures Hard Rock | review permalink
IRON MAIDEN - The Number Of The Beast NWoBHM | review permalink
MERCYFUL FATE - Don't Break the Oath Heavy Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning Thrash Metal | review permalink
IRON MAIDEN - Powerslave NWoBHM | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
CANDLEMASS - Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Traditional Doom Metal | review permalink
SLAYER - Reign in Blood Thrash Metal | review permalink
KING DIAMOND - Abigail Heavy Metal | review permalink
TROUBLE - Run to the Light Traditional Doom Metal | review permalink

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Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Non-Metal 151 3.88
2 Heavy Metal 146 3.66
3 Progressive Metal 139 3.62
4 Black Metal 123 3.83
5 Hard Rock 114 3.45
6 Thrash Metal 81 3.77
7 Power Metal 79 3.44
8 Metal Related 67 3.57
9 Atmospheric Black Metal 64 3.90
10 Death Metal 59 3.98
11 Gothic Metal 56 3.35
12 Doom Metal 54 3.76
13 Proto-Metal 52 3.60
14 Traditional Doom Metal 45 3.89
15 US Power Metal 41 3.46
16 Stoner Metal 38 3.78
17 Avant-garde Metal 38 3.78
18 Industrial Metal 33 3.44
19 Symphonic Black Metal 30 3.20
20 Technical Death Metal 25 3.84
21 Melodic Death Metal 25 3.96
22 Melodic Black Metal 22 3.93
23 Death-Doom Metal 22 4.14
24 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 20 3.98
25 Hardcore Punk 19 4.21
26 Heavy Psych 16 4.09
27 Funeral Doom Metal 15 3.70
28 Folk Metal 14 3.32
29 Symphonic Metal 14 3.04
30 NWoBHM 13 4.23
31 Alternative Metal 12 3.25
32 Technical Thrash Metal 12 4.13
33 Sludge Metal 11 3.95
34 Speed Metal 11 3.73
35 Depressive Black Metal 10 3.75
36 Drone Metal 9 4.00
37 Funk Metal 9 3.78
38 Groove Metal 8 3.63
39 Viking Metal 8 3.63
40 Crust Punk 7 2.93
41 Brutal Death Metal 5 3.70
42 Grindcore 5 4.10
43 Death 'n' Roll 4 4.50
44 Crossover Thrash 2 4.50
45 Glam Metal 2 2.50
46 Pagan Black Metal 2 3.50
47 Nu Metal 2 4.00
48 Metalcore 2 3.00
49 War Metal 2 3.00
50 Stoner Rock 2 3.50
51 Neoclassical metal 1 4.00
52 Heavy Alternative Rock 1 3.00
53 Mathcore 1 3.00

Latest Albums Reviews

TRANSATLANTIC The Whirlwind

Album · 2009 · Metal Related
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The return of Transatlantic in 2009 with The Whirlwind, an album-long prog symphony in some twelve parts or so, was perhaps just as surprising as their original hiatus. The project had gone into hibernation back in 2002, when Neal Morse quit it (and Spock's Beard), declaring that he felt a calling to make more explicitly religious-themed work and he didn't think it would be right to drag those band projects down that same rabbithole. Whilst Spock's Beard was able to solider on with a reconfigured lineup, Transatlantic was explicitly constructed as a supergroup of four personalities, and so didn't feel they could keep going without Neal onboard.

However, Neal's departure was not as final as it might have first appeared. For one thing, there was an extra dimension to Neal's decision which hadn't been widely aired at the time, though it would eventually become more generally known: his young daughter had been diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition, which had apparently corrected itself. Such an incident not only explains why Neal felt an intensifying of his religious feelings (because he attributed this recovery in part to prayer), but clearly would have given him ample reason to dial back on band projects with significant touring requirements associated for the sake of spending more tame with the family.

The passage of time would eventually cure Neal's need to distance himself from band projects; in his solo career he would not only put out a range of prog albums which combined his distinctive musical approach with various Christian themes, but also had a little cottage industry going when it came to putting out more straight-ahead worship music. Furthermore, as the years passed and his daughter's health troubles were more firmly in the past, perhaps it became easier to contemplate doing the odd Transatlantic project and tour, with the immediate need to spend as much time as possible together as a family being alleviated.

In retrospect, there were clues all along that Neal wasn't 100% done with Transatlantic. For one thing, Mike Portnoy of the band had also performed drums on all of Neal's solo prog albums, so it's not like he was out of contact with the rest of the group; for another, during his solo career he had been producing a steady trickle of cover versions of mostly secular songs (compiled on the Cover 2 Cover series), so it's not like he felt every single musical endeavour he turned his had to had to be 100% exclusively Christian-themed. Moreover, Roine Stolt of Transatlantic has worked in some Christian themes into his music here and there - such as on The Flower King solo album which provided the seeds of the Flower Kings project to begin with. Transatlantic might not have been the right project to do entire concept albums explicitly based on Biblical stories or Church history, but the other musicians are hardly the sort you'd expect to toss their instruments down and leave the studio in a huff if there turned out to be a religious theme here and there in the music.

As it stands, 2009 feels like it was the perfect time for a Transatlantic reunion to come together. Neal's prog solo albums were for the most part pretty solid, but listening to Lifeline - his last prog solo album before this reunion occurred - I can't help but think he might have been running a bit short of ideas, and so pivoting to a band-based project might have been the perfect opportunity for Neal to recharge his prog batteries, with collaborators to both propose their own ideas and to help refine his own.

Roine Stolt, meanwhile, had just put the Flower Kings on hiatus after wrapping up their 2008 tour commitments, and wouldn't come back to that project until 2011. Marillion had put out Happiness Is the Road in the previous year and were finding their creative reserves a little tapped - they'd do the Less Is More album of acoustic rearrangements of existing material in 2009, and then take some three years to bring Sounds That Can't Be Made to fruition - so Pete Trewavas wasn't so busy with the day job that he couldn't come around for bass. As for Mike Portnoy, he hadn't officially left Dream Theater yet, but they had completed what would turn out to be their last studio album with him, and when he did leave in the following year he cited enjoying other projects more than he was enjoying Dream Theater himself.

Clearly, then, the weather was blowing in the right direction for the good ship Transatlantic to set sail again, and this return voyage turns out to be a real treat. On Bridge Across Forever the band had found a sound in which their different musical personalities were all finding expression and which by and large sounded like its own entity, rather than "Spock's Beard By Other Means" as their debut album, SMPTe, sometimes came across. Neal Morse takes the bulk of the lead vocals, but hasn't pushed Roine Stolt out entirely here - rather, Roine is given those sections which his voice better does justice to, so both of them are playing to their strengths in that respect. In return, there's a better demarcation of duties when it comes to guitar: Neal is handling acoustic, Roine is on electric, which means that Roine's presence is better expressed (because any time you hear electric guitar - and there's some great solos there - it's Roine). Meanwhile in the rhythm section, Portnoy and Trewavas let rip with their particular skills, providing the engine which really gives the album a sense of forward motion.

As far as the overall composition goes, it sounds like another Neal Morse long piece in structural terms, but that's fine - Neal's always been a dab hand at structuring these things, and whilst there's moments here and there which sound a little bit like a Neal-ism, there's just as many which sound like a slice of the Flower Kings. More to the point, whilst parts sound like something you could imagine Neal contributing to the stew, none of it entirely sounds like his solo career, despite half the band being key musicians on those solo albums. If Neal was being the "big picture" guy here, taking everyone's contributions and fitting them into a framework, it's worked out just fine, because the mosaic that results sounds distinctly different from the sort of thing he'd cook up by himself whilst still having his fingerprints on it.

Thematically, you can certainly still pick up some of Neal's religious convictions if you've a mind to, but it's not as front and centre as in his solo work. Sure, his solo work is often very unsubtle on this point - but here he's not giving any explicit thoughts on church doctrine or delving into particular incidents from the Old or New Testaments, it's more the sort of material you might hear any cosmically-inclined, slightly hippy-ish prog band wheeling out where you can probably track where the lyricist's head was at when they wrote the words, but they're more interested in expressing broad universal themes than getting into specifics.

I've spoken a lot about Morse in this review, but that's largely because his decision to first leave Transatlantic and then come back to the project hangs so heavy above the project. As it stands, The Whirlwind ends up being the best sort of supergroup project, in that it simultaneously clearly makes best use of the strengths of the various contributors and allows their different personalities to be felt within the music, but at the same time it becomes a whole greater than the sum of its parts, producing music which shows the trademarks of all the contributors but at the same time doesn't quite sound like the sort of thing any one of them would produce on their own.

Of all the members of the group, Morse is the one who had been most immersed in producing stuff on his own rather than in band projects in the time since Bridge Across Forever, so it's gratifying to see him moving smoothly back into a band project and finding new ways to express his particular compositional style whilst at the same time embracing the opportunity to work with collaborators as equals. As far as the band as a whole goes, this really sounds like they haven't missed a beat; had Transatlantic stuck together after 2002 and produced a new album instead of Neal going off on his solo career, I can't imagine them producing something much better than this.

DREAM THEATER Black Clouds & Silver Linings

Album · 2009 · Progressive Metal
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Little did they know it at the time, but this would be the last album that Dream Theater would record with Mike Portnoy at the drum stool. (It's lucky, then, that it includes The Shattered Fortress, the end of his Twelve Step Suite - would have been a bit awkward if he'd had to get that out on a Transatlantic album or something.)

If the band had any hint that a change was brewing, however, there's no sign of it here - if anything this is business as usual, with ballad Wither's five-and-a-bit minutes amounting to the only sub-epic song on here - everything else is over 8 minutes long, and 4 of the six songs here are over 12 minutes long.

As it stands, Wither ends up offering a bit of a breathing space of the running order, coming as it does between two heavier pieces (A Nightmare To Remember in particular taking the band further towards extreme metal territory they've ever gone) and The Shattered Fortress, which picks the ferocity back up with its intro. This is perhaps the most straight-ahead epic of the album; Portnoy himself has said that in retrospect, he found he'd written himself into a bit of a corner with the Twelve Step Suite, and with hindsight he might have instead just one song covering all twelve steps back when the band were making Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. It's not that I think it's outright bad - but perhaps because it's trying to maintain a thematic and musical link to material spread over the previous four albums, it doesn't quite feel fresh.

The Best of Times, by comparison, lets things pick up, with a beautiful, restrained opening giving way into a light and positive-sounding song, a real breath of fresh air after the band had spent not only much of this album but a fair chunk of previous recent albums looking at darker material. It reminds me almost of a tribute to Rush circa Permanent Waves or Moving Pictures in some respects. The album closes off with The Count of Tuscany, a foreboding narrative about a strange encounter overseas which presents perhaps the album's most classically proggy sections.

Overall, I can't quite give the album full marks, but it is another impressive entry in the Dream Theater discography; if Portnoy never works with the band again, he can at least be proud of going out on a high note.

OPETH The Candlelight Years

Boxset / Compilation · 2008 · Death Metal
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This is a convenient way of collecting Opeth's first three albums all in one fell swoop. Though Morningrise is far and away the best album here, the other two albums presented are nice bonuses on top of that star attraction; Orchid captures the band in the process of gradually finding their sound, whilst My Arms, Your Hearse has a bleak, almost black metal-inspired aesthetic which makes it perhaps Opeth's darkest and murkiest release. Each disc has a few bonus tracks, giving a full overview of the band's earliest era, making this a good purchase so long as you're happy with not getting the full artwork.

JUDAS PRIEST A Touch Of Evil

Live album · 2009 · Heavy Metal
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For their first live album following the return of Rob Halford, Priest offer up edited highlights of the tours for Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus, with a focus on songs which hadn't appeared on a Halford-fronted Judas Priest live release previously. The end result is very good - Priest have always been a stellar live band - but precisely because of the approach taken in picking songs, it doesn't really reflect an actual live setlist or flow like a live show. (There's entirely undisguised fade-outs between some songs, for instance.) As a result, it's good to dip into if you really want to hear Halford singing one of these tracks live, but I don't put it on the level of their best live albums of the past.

RUSH Sector 3

Boxset / Compilation · 2011 · Non-Metal
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The third "Sector" boxed set from Rush delivers fresh new remasters of their 1980s synth-era, taking in the studio albums from Signals to Hold Your Fire and the live album A Show of Hands.

I think there's no question that of the three Sector boxes, Sector 2 was the one which covers the most essential era of Rush, but I'd actually rank Sector 3 above Sector 1. Sector 1 has got 2112, of course, but arguably it was only really on 2112 that Rush started firing on all cylinders (though Fly By Night deserves an honourable mention), and albums like their debut or Caress of Steel showed stark growing pains.

On the other hand, whilst the synth era of the band rather sputtered out, they did at least have a cohesive musical vision all the way through it; the first two albums were very good, and I think Power Windows gets a slightly raw deal, and it was only really Hold Your Fire which wasn't pulling its weight there. Getting all of them, sounding better than they have for ages, plus a live album, in nicely-presented LP replica sleeves? Can't hurt.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 8 months ago in A name for "progressive metal punk?"
    If most of the examples LightningRider's thinking of are usually described as some flavour of 'core, why not just go with "progcore"?
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Sean Reinert R.I.P.
    An ugly coda to the story: despite strongly believing in organ donation, and despite the fact that he was clean of STDs, Sean's wish to donate his organs was denied simply because he was a gay man with a normal, active sex life:https://www.metalsucks.net/2020/02/11/sean-reinerts-organ-donor-request-was-denied-because-of-his-sexual-orientation/If any of us want to do some small thing in Sean's memory, I'd say making a monetary donation to a charity that supports transplant patients wouldn't be a terrible idea.
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Favorite Mk. II-era Electric Wizard album?
    I'm pretty keen on Time To Die myself, but I could understand voting for any of those albums - they're so consistent.I agree with UMUR though - doing the poll this way is more interesting because if we took in their whole career, Dopethrone would beat out everything by a mile.

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Stephen wrote:
more than 2 years ago
agree, welcome to the site and please keep them coming friend
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
You write some really good quality reviews. I hope to see more from you in the future.

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