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Adam Gardiner
Forum Admin Group · Black Metal, Prog/AG Teams
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 4 hours ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

2628 reviews/ratings
WINTERHORDE - Underwatermoon Melodic Black Metal | review permalink
SONIC PULSAR - Playing the Universe Progressive Metal | review permalink
STAR ONE - Victims of the Modern Age Progressive Metal | review permalink
BEYOND TWILIGHT - For the Love of Art and the Making Progressive Metal | review permalink
REBELLION - Miklagard - The History of the Vikings Volume II Power Metal | review permalink
BEYOND TWILIGHT - Section X Progressive Metal | review permalink
IMMORTAL - At the Heart of Winter Black Metal | review permalink
DARKOLOGY - Altered Reflections Progressive Metal | review permalink
CRUACHAN - Folk-Lore Folk Metal | review permalink
ALICE IN CHAINS - Black Gives Way To Blue Alternative Metal | review permalink
AYREON - The Final Experiment Progressive Metal | review permalink
BLIND GUARDIAN - Imaginations From the Other Side Power Metal | review permalink
EPICA - The Divine Conspiracy Symphonic Metal | review permalink
AYREON - The Human Equation Progressive Metal | review permalink
EPICA - Design Your Universe Symphonic Metal | review permalink
ASTARTE - Quod Superius Sicut Inferius Melodic Black Metal
AVANTASIA - The Metal Opera Power Metal
AYREON - 01011001 Progressive Metal | review permalink
REBELLION - Arise: From Ginnungagap to Ragnarök - The History of the Vikings Volume III Power Metal | review permalink
TO-MERA - Delusions Progressive Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Power Metal 358 4.14
2 Progressive Metal 259 4.11
3 Heavy Metal 226 3.90
4 Atmospheric Black Metal 179 4.09
5 Black Metal 141 3.82
6 US Power Metal 129 4.22
7 Folk Metal 105 3.98
8 Symphonic Metal 103 3.78
9 Thrash Metal 91 3.99
10 Non-Metal 82 3.87
11 Death Metal 79 3.89
12 Technical Death Metal 73 4.19
13 Gothic Metal 61 3.82
14 Doom Metal 54 4.03
15 Hard Rock 51 3.89
16 Melodic Black Metal 50 4.15
17 Melodic Death Metal 49 3.87
18 Metal Related 48 3.85
19 Speed Metal 40 3.88
20 Stoner Metal 38 4.16
21 Alternative Metal 34 3.47
22 Symphonic Black Metal 28 4.09
23 Death-Doom Metal 26 4.17
24 Groove Metal 23 3.63
25 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 23 4.17
26 Heavy Psych 23 4.35
27 Heavy Alternative Rock 22 3.27
28 Viking Metal 22 4.07
29 Pagan Black Metal 21 3.86
30 Depressive Black Metal 20 3.85
31 NWoBHM 18 4.36
32 Avant-garde Metal 18 3.86
33 Traditional Doom Metal 17 4.29
34 Sludge Metal 15 4.10
35 Funeral Doom Metal 14 4.11
36 Stoner Rock 14 4.04
37 Melodic Metalcore 12 3.38
38 Brutal Death Metal 12 3.25
39 Technical Thrash Metal 12 4.17
40 War Metal 11 4.09
41 Metalcore 7 2.57
42 Industrial Metal 5 3.80
43 Neoclassical metal 3 3.83
44 Drone Metal 3 3.50
45 Deathcore 2 1.75
46 Death 'n' Roll 2 3.00
47 Proto-Metal 2 4.25
48 Crossover Thrash 1 3.50
49 Crust Punk 1 4.00
50 Trance Metal 1 0.50

Latest Albums Reviews

AVATARIUM The Fire I Long For

Album · 2019 · Doom Metal
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Founded by Leif Edling of Candlemass renown, Avatarium burst onto the doom metal scene in 2013 with their EP Moonhorse and self-titled debut album. Heavy as hell, lyrically poetic, and above all else just damn good, the debut album cemented the band's reputation and proved that they weren't just riding on the name dropping of member's previous work. Second album, 2015's The Girl With the Raven Mask, brought some changes to the band's sound. It wasn't as heavy, though still clearly rooted in doom metal, but more psychedelic influenced. That was exactly what made it so good though: Avatarium did not feel the need to immediately re-hash what worked so well the first time around.

Then Leif Edling left the band. And their sound changed to be much less doom metal based and more firmly rooted in (heavy) psychedelic rock and progressive rock. Yet this was actually quite the paradox, because Edling had still written the majority of third album from 2017, Hurricanes and Halos, even though he didn't play one note on it. So it was obvious that the change in direction away from doom metal hadn't been the result of line-up shifts. Now, Hurricanes and Halos is still pretty fine album, but for this reviewer's money it doesn't get as many revisits as the first two Avatarium records. Which is why I'm happy to say that with fourth full-length The Fire I Long For, Avatarium is back on track. Doom metal is in again.

This could be seen as a double edged sword of course. The first three Avatarium albums, while the general lack of doom metal may have proved a disappointment to many on the last one, had the great benefit that Avatarium had effectively reinvented themselves every time around, but not so much that they alienated fans completely. And while The Fire I Long For brings another change, it's much more of a change back opposed to changing into something new. The album quite comfortably sits alongside The Girl With the Raven Mask in terms of style. Which means that it's pretty psychedelic, with plenty of doom metal riffs, but none that are as crushingly heavy as those found on the debut. As is usual for an Avatarium record, there is also some softer material. Avatarium is one of those rare metal bands that is actually very good at doing softer material though (they are members of a very exclusive club where they keep company with prestigious metal acts like Blind Guardian and err, I can't actually think of another one, that's how exclusive the club is!), so that shouldn't put newcomers off, while returnees will know what to expect.

While we've established that for the first time that a new Avatarium record may not feel as fresh in context of their catalogue, The Fire I Long For does have two things going for it that make it a step up from Hurricanes and Halos. Firstly it's doom metal again as I've pointed out and while Avatarium proved a quite competent heavy psych act on Hurricanes and Halos, they're an exceptional doom metal act. This is the genre they started off in and it's the genre that they shine in. Doom metal, especially the psychedelic influenced kind as Avatarium play, seems to be tailor-made for a singer like Avatarium's Jennie-Ann Smith as well.

That isn't the second reason by the way. The actual second reason is that the song-writing is that much more memorable this time around. There sadly just aren't many details that I can recall about Hurricanes and Halos after some time away from it, except for the excellent opening track Into the Fire / Into the Storm. This isn't true of the first two albums, where hooks flood back without requiring a revisit, no doubt because there's only so long I can go before those albums pull me back. And as for The Fire I Long For, there are already several tracks that have infected me, not least the title track, Voices, and Rubicon. While it is still early days yet, I can't foresee a future where it doesn't go into rotation at least as much as the first two records.

A return to form all round and to be cliché, this was the album I longed for after the last one. Regarding which I have not meant to be disrespectful to in this review despite some comments that even when positive no doubt read as barbed. I quite like Hurricanes and Halos. It's one of those albums I enjoy when I do play it, but I rarely crave it. On the other hand I just love Avatarium, The Girl With the Raven Mask and now The Fire I Long For as well. It's a doom metal highlight for 2019.

BREED 77 In My Blood (En Mi Sangre)

Album · 2006 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
During your formative years of discovering a genre of music, in this case metal, there are always going to be bands that you really enjoy at first who then get left on the roadside as their genre doesn't become one of your favourites. Years later, we suddenly stumble across that band in our libraries or collections of physical media (those of us who still have them anyway) and for a brief time may listen to them again, looking back in nostalgia for a while until consigning them once again to the oblivion that is the depths of our libraries and shelves that we know we should dust more often than we do.

Once in a while however, you stick one of those forgotten records on and there's only one thing you can say about it. You'd forgotten, to your shame and regret, just how fucking good it was. In this story the band is Breed 77 (pronounced breed seven-seven) and the album is In My Blood (En Mi Sangre) (2006). This is actually one of four albums I own from these guys, but it was my first one and it was always the best to my ears.

I have never come across another band that is quite like Breed 77. They play alternative metal/hard rock mixed with elements, of all things, of flamenco. Of course given that the band originally hails from Gibraltar, the appearance of flamenco in their music shouldn't be all that surprising, except that they're a metal band. Of course if there's anything that over ten years listening to metal has taught me, it's that you can do pretty much anything with metal and make it work.

And yet this unusual fusion of sounds isn't even why Breed 77's In My Blood is so damn good. It's simply a hard rocking, metallic and infectious little album of memorable songs like Petroleo (You Will Be King), Alive, Blind and many others. A big part of this is their incredible vocalist Paul Isola. His accented vocals, which sometimes slip between English and Spanish lines within the same song, suit the flamenco tinged metal and softer parts in equal measure, only briefly relying on some harsh screams in the title word of Blind, which was a departure for the band as even the previous album Cultura (2004), which I didn't hear until later so was never as familiar with, had more extensive use in tracks like La Ultima Hora and The Only Ones. Isola's growls are actually quite effective in Breed 77's music, but the man has one hell of a singing voice, so it shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone to hear him using it more completely on In My Blood.

An album that was a genuine pleasure to rediscover (and will be prompting me to do the same with their other albums I own plus check out the ones that released since they fell off my radar), I'm certainly not planning to forget about In My Blood again in a hurry. Unfortunately it doesn't look like Breed 77 is around any more despite no official word on calling it a day, so this one may have to go down as one of the 2000's hidden and forgotten gems. Well worth checking out for anyone in search of a band with a unique sound.

CULT OF LUNA A Dawn To Fear

Album · 2019 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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A Dawn to Fear (2019) is the eighth full-length studio album by Swedish atmospheric sludge metal act Cult of Luna. As their last album Mariner (2016) was a collaboration effort with vocalist Julie Christmas (Battle of Mice, Made Out of Babies), A Dawn to Fear marks the first 'pure' Cult of Luna studio album since Vertikal (2013). It is a double album consisting of eight tracks, most of them lengthy, with half passing ten minutes each. The total length just passes 79 minutes, which is actually about what a standard CD can handle at a push, but I guess the decision was made to play it safe from a technical point of view, since I have heard of CDs having playback issues on their final tracks when the maximum duration is reached. Still, it's on the line enough to avoid accusations of passing a single album off as a double, unlike the couple of minutes shorter Hardwired... To Self-Destruct (2016) by Metallica, which really should have been a single CD, not a double with a double's price to go with it.

But even if it would fit on a single disc, we can forgive Cult of Luna more than we can Metallica, because unlike the legendary on/off thrash metal band, Cult of Luna has delivered exactly what any fan of the band would have wanted in A Dawn to Fear. This could possibly be their best album to date, which is coming from someone who was so blown away by Mariner that he had to confess to wishing several times that Cult of Luna + Julie Christmas would become a permanent thing. Then they release this. The kind of album that immediately grabs your attention and drags you down into its atmospheric sludge metal and softer post-rock passages, leaving you submerged in it's sound, which is distinctly that of Cult of Luna even if the only prior album you've heard happens to be Mariner, for its duration and only allowing you to surface upon its conclusion. A conclusion which seems to come around much sooner than it's near eighty minute length would suggest it should.

On a personal level I first heard Cult of Luna's music with Vertikal. That album was very likely also my first taste of the atmospheric sludge metal style. It quickly became an album I enjoyed very much, but it was only with Mariner that I started to really pay attention to how good the band actually was. I've since been back and heard fan favourite albums Salvation (2004) and Somewhere Along the Highway (2006), both of which are also excellent releases that cement Cult of Luna's reputation as the world's premium, not just atmospheric sludge, but sludge metal in general, act. It's to my own detriment that, including A Dawn to Fear, my knowledge of the band's catalogue only extends to just over half the the studio albums.

Mariner has, in the few years since it's release, become one of only a few albums released since that time that is still in a fairly regular rotation for me. It has that indescribable something that keeps pulling me back. While it is still early days, I can't see that A Dawn to Fear is going to be any different in that regard. Mariner was a grower; the kind of album you suddenly realise is one of your favourites. A Dawn to Fear is instant satisfaction. There was never any doubt in my mind that it would be good, but this good? Truth be told, it's single-handed got me out of a slump regarding new music. This is actually the first review I have written since November 2018. That's how good it is.

Saying any more about the album's specifics feels like I would be doing an injustice to the experience that Cult of Luna has created in this album. A Dawn to Fear offers up tracks that are each substantial enough to be taken as individual entities but like with many atmospheric albums it's surely best taken as a whole rather than try to pick it apart as say this song or that song is a highlight. If you've listened to the band before at any point in their now twenty+ year long career, even if you only came to them on Mariner through Julie Christmas, then stop everything and do yourself a solid: buy A Dawn to Fear immediately. For this listener's money, it's quite likely the album of 2019.

IMMORTAL Northern Chaos Gods

Album · 2018 · Black Metal
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When Norwegian black metal act Immortal first disbanded back in 2003 after seven studio albums, they left behind a pretty great legacy, ending on career high note Sons of Northern Darkness (2002). Their later reunion in 2006 resulted in a solid if not exceptional comeback album, All Shall Fall (2009), but then the band went another long stretch without a new album. Then, in 2015, something unthinkable happened: the band's two key members, Abbath and Demonaz (who hadn't been able to play with them since 1997 due to severe tendinitis, which was surgically corrected in 2013), had some sort of bust up. This resulted in Abbath going off to start his self-titled project, which released its debut album in 2016, and Demonaz officially restarted Immortal again in 2015, consisting of just him and drummer Horgh. Demonaz returns to his original instrument, guitar, and also takes over the lead vocalist role from Abbath, with bass handled by guest musicians Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy).

Now I for one was pretty sceptical about this whole thing, I admit it. Demonaz had previous laid down lead vocals in his self-titled project back in 2011 and didn't give the kind of performance that I personally felt would have fit in with Immortal's more aggressive form of black metal music. That's not to say that they were bad, just different, especially considering that Abbath has one of the most distinctive growling voices in the scene and has always been an aspect of Immortal's music that has set them apart from other black metal acts. Sure enough, on Northern Chaos Gods (2018), Immortal's ninth album and first and only without Abbath, Demonaz doesn't deliver anywhere near as distinctive sounding growls as the former frontman. They also fit in here much better than those on Demonaz's March of the Norse (2011) led me to expect they would. Combined with some really furious black metal riffing, Immortal's Abbath-less comeback may just be the most aggressive album they've ever released.

That's the good part. There's also a problem. And that's that with Abbath or without him, lyricist Demonaz has long written extensively about his own Blashyrkh theme and now that we're nine Immortal albums deep, he's starting to really show signs of scraping the barrel. Throughout Northern Chaos Gods and it's eight tracks, you'll continually hear phrases that have been heard before across Immortal records and even though the music itself provides an absolute beast of an album, it does feel just that bit stale now because of the lyrics. Even the title is taken directly from Immortal's popular track One by One, the opener from Sons of Northern Darkness while closer Mighty Ravendark was actually used before as part of Blashyrkh (Mighty Ravendark) on their third album Battles in the North (1995). Furthermore, there's also Gates to Blashyrkh on this album. It all feels a bit of 'been there, done that'.

In spite of that issue, it's clear that Northern Chaos Gods is a far superior album to Abbath's 2016 self-titled effort, so if nothing else, Demonaz most certainly wins round one of their post-collaboration careers. Immortal just needs a bit more originally in their lyrics in the future though, as for the first for me they prove a distraction when listening to their music, summoning memories of past glories with Abbath up front rather than allowing me to fully invest in this Demonaz fronted new incarnation of the legendary band, without otherwise does a damn fine job of proving itself a viable venture for Demonaz and Horgh. For the music alone, Northern Chaos Gods is still worth a respectable four stars though.

NACHTLIEDER Lynx

Album · 2018 · Black Metal
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Back in 2016 I discovered the Swedish female solo black metal artist Nachtlieder through her second album The Female of the Species. I was a bit late to the party at that point, as the album has actually been released the late in the year before, but The Female of the Species is one album that I count among my very best discoveries of 2016. The project of one Dagny Susanne, who does vocals and plays all instruments on her albums bar drums, which are handled by session member Martrum (both previously played together in black/death/thrash metal act Wicked), The Female of the Species was actually something of a sleeper hit with me. When I first heard it I couldn't say with honesty that what I was hearing was the most original take on a black metal sound – it's pretty much impossible to use the terms 'original' and 'straight up black metal' in the same sentence these days though – but it was clear right from the off that Nachtlieder had crafted a decent sound within the genre and that the album really packed a punch. When I reviewed the album, I didn't hesitate to award it a firm four stars.

Something happened then that I wasn't expecting. You see, there are a lot of albums like The Female of the Species that I'd give four stars too for being very solid examples of their genre even if they didn't really bring anything new to the table. For me, there is always room for a good honest example of music that is true to its style's roots and doesn't feel the need to dress it up with fancy frills from outside influences, which in today's black metal scene, often means post-rock or shoegaze elements. That doesn't mean I necessarily want to keep going back to one of them in particular over and over again. Only this time, with The Female of the Species, that's exactly what happened. It turns out that the album was one that had that something special that kept continually drawing me back time after time and during 2017 I eventually got to the point that I realised, although it was a respectable rating I had previously given it, that I had actually judged the release too harshly at four stars. Fast forward to 2018 and The Female of the Species now stands as one of my favourite black metal releases of the last five years.

This of course resulted in a lot of excitement for Nachtlieder's follow-up, Lynx (2018). While undeniably a more of the same release – black metal with none of those modern frills attached – it's quick to assert itself as a work that at worst, is only on the same level as it's predecessor and at best, far exceeds it. And let me just be clear about this, it's at its best far more often than it's at its worst, while that word also feels inappropriate to use when describing the album, though does provide a good emphasis on how much more immediate Lynx is to its predecessor. Eight tracks deliver a sound that captures a good balance between traditional black metal's cold atmosphere and production values that give the music clarity and allow Dagny's riffs to stand out rather than have almost everything lost within a lo-fi haze, an unnecessary way of producing this kind of music that both the founding fathers and countless disciples have for some reason chosen to employ, to continually mixed results that to this day give the black metal genre a poor reputation among fans of other metal genres. Albums like Lynx exist as proof that black metal can still sound cold and raw without being a mass of treble riffs that sound like they were recorded in a tin can.

Lyrically I do struggle with following Dagny's growls, but that's of little consequence when the complete package sounds this great and hits the eardrums this hard. Black metal is often about atmosphere even when it doesn't fit into the atmospheric sub-genre at all (like Lynx), but Nachtlieder manages to weld that with the kind of aggression found in records like Immortal's Sons of Northern Darkness. Rather than coming across like Dagny was unsure what she wanted it to be – cold and atmospheric or faster and riff based – we get treated to a perfect fusion of the two, where riffs will be thumping away, Dagny snarling over them and yet behind there'll be something atmospheric that will raise the level of the composition considerably. Every song on here could be used as an introduction to Nachtlieder's music and serve that purpose well, though for my money Dagny saved the best for last in Moksha, the longest song which is an absolutely furious hard-hitting beast.

Last time I reviewed this project's music, I had to own up to doing it a disservice. This time I'm both already familiar with the artist and have left it a bit longer before publishing a review of the album and I'm very confident that Lynx will continue to stand as one of 2018's black metal gems. It does seem a shame that, so far, not that many people seem have caught onto this project – so as a final word of advice, don't make the mistake that I almost did with the previous album, and make all efforts to change that.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 6 hours ago in The Upcoming Albums Thread
    I've not heard it Chris. Just posting it for those who it might interest. It drops in February. 
  • Posted 13 hours ago in The Upcoming Albums Thread
    Not a band I've ever listened to but I'm sure this will be of interest to some here:http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/album/psychotic-waltz/the-god-shaped-voidTheir first studio album since 1996.
  • Posted 13 hours ago in The Upcoming Albums Thread
    [TUBE]frMkdkCV2D0[/TUBE]

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