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Adam Gardiner
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2193 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

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Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Power Metal 323 4.11
2 Progressive Metal 240 4.10
3 Traditional heavy metal 201 3.84
4 Atmospheric Black Metal 151 4.09
5 Black Metal 136 3.81
6 US Power Metal 125 4.22
7 Folk Metal 104 3.91
8 Symphonic Metal 94 3.74
9 Thrash Metal 88 4.01
10 Hard Rock 82 3.82
11 Non-Metal 70 3.91
12 Death Metal 68 3.80
13 Technical Death Metal 63 4.17
14 Melodic Black Metal 54 4.08
15 Melodic Death Metal 43 3.85
16 Doom Metal 41 4.00
17 Speed Metal 40 3.90
18 Metal Related 38 3.88
19 Alternative Metal 34 3.44
20 Gothic Metal 26 3.79
21 Symphonic Black Metal 25 4.08
22 Groove Metal 23 3.63
23 Depressive Black Metal 19 3.84
24 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 16 3.88
25 Metalcore 15 2.90
26 Avant-garde Metal 14 3.82
27 NWoBHM 12 4.46
28 Brutal Death Metal 11 3.18
29 Industrial Metal 6 3.25
30 Sludge Metal 6 4.33
31 Death-Doom Metal 5 3.60
32 Deathcore 3 2.50
33 Drone Metal 3 3.50
34 Stoner Metal 3 4.00
35 Neoclassical metal 3 3.83
36 Funeral Doom Metal 2 3.25
37 Crossover Thrash 2 3.75
38 Death 'n' Roll 2 3.00
39 Hardcore and crust 1 4.00
40 Proto-Metal 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

TCHORNOBOG Tchornobog

Album · 2017 · Black Metal
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Markov Soroka isn't the most household of names within the extreme metal scene but has been steadily building his profile of solo projects these last few years. His biggest claim to fame is likely the atmospheric black metal/ambient act Aureole, who did a split with the better known Mare Cognitum in 2016 called Resonance: Crimson Void. He also operates the funeral doom metal act Slow and previously symphonic black/death metal act Eternium, which at one point became a full band and as such put out his first major album, Repelling a Solar Giant (2013). His latest project is Tchornobog, whose self-titled debut album from 2017 looks to be the musician's most ambitious work to date.

Taking elements from a range of extreme metal sources, Tchornobog is best described as a mix of black and death metal with some doom metal influences. The black metal element sometimes has an atmospheric touch but overall Tchornobog brings a more chaotic approach to the table than atmospheric black metal usually allows, making the album vastly different to what Markov Soroka's fans will be used to with Aureole. Only four tracks are presented here, each lasting for extended durations. The opener The Vomiting Tchornobog (Slithering Gods of Cognitive Dissonance) alone is over the twenty minute mark. At twelve minutes the next track Hallucinatory Black Breath Of Possession (Mountain-Eye Amalgamation) is comparatively short.

The album is an absolutely mammoth sized work and that certainly applies to both how it sounds as much as it's length. It's intense stuff for much of the running time with more melodic elements only existing underneath the raw barrage of guitars to add flavour and effect, though third track Non-Existence’s Warmth (Infinite Natality Psychosis) serves up an extended softer section that offers a bit of breathing space, where Soroka brings in guest musicians to add further instruments such as piano and saxophone, though it doesn't take long for the metal to make a reappearance and by the time of closer Here, At The Disposition Of Time (Inverting A Solar Giant) things have fully returned to business as usual. Other instruments used on the album are the trumpet and cello, while Greg Chandler of Esoteric provides some additional vocals on tracks one and three.

An album like this isn't the easiest of listens. The style of music isn't the kind that's going to serve up any lyrically hooks to latch onto, so it can be quite overwhelming at first and requires two or three sittings to really get to grips with what's been created. You know that an album like this one has been done right when it has that special spark that compels you to keep coming back to it to relive the experience it offers another time. Tchornobog certainly succeeds in that. For my money this album is leaps and bounds ahead of all the other work of Markov Soroka I've heard so far and is definitely up there with the year's best albums.

SEVEROTH Forestpaths

Album · 2017 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Ukrainian musician Severoth is a busy man, having released four albums in 2016, each for a different project: the band Endless Battle and their third full-length Roots of All Evil, the dungeon synth solo project Galdur and it's second album Age of Legends, the black metal solo project Морок and its second album In the Dungeons of Mind and finally the second album of self-titled and presumably flagship project Severoth, Самітність. His first and so far only album of 2017, Forestpaths, is a follow-up to this one.

In this project Severoth plays atmospheric black metal of the heavily ambient influenced kind. It's raw and cold, though not to the level of an album like Striborg's Autumnal Melancholy (2008). The ambient elements are a prominent feature and the main source of melody within the release, with the black metal guitar work severing more of a backdrop role while Severoth delivers some rather primal sounding growls over the top. I, at least, cannot follow a word of the lyrics and I think that would be true even if they weren't in Ukrainian but that's part of what makes a release such as Forestpaths work. You're not necessarily supposed to understand the words, but be entranced by the experience and as an album the six track release certainly does that, with its artwork also providing a great depiction of the kind of atmosphere the music conveys. I'd imagine taking it deep into the woods on a cold, snowy night would be the way to experience the full effect.

Like with many albums of its kind there is some blurring together of the individual tracks on Forestpaths due to there being little change in style on each track, but my experience with it is that Severoth succeeds more in this regard than others have thanks in no small part to the ambient elements, which have some wonderful melodies. Opener Мікрокосм particularly stands out in this regard, though I recommend that the album be experience as one complete journey. It's biggest change in overall style comes right at the end of the release during the second half of closing track Чумацький шлях where, the black metal now removed from the music entirely, the ambience takes on a decidedly folksy sound that lasts until Forestpath's conclusion. It's a nice section of music, but if there's a fault to be had with the album as a whole it's that Severoth made us wait that long to hear it. It would have been nice to hear more exploration of that sort of thing earlier in the album. All in all though Forestpaths is a very pleasing release from Severoth, so I have to say that this only acts as a minor niggle for me.

BOSSE-DE-NAGE Bosse-de-Nage (III)

Album · 2012 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Bosse-de-Nage (2012) is the self-titled third full-length album by US atmospheric black metal act Bosse-de-Nage. These guys had, up to and including this album, taken the curious approach of calling every full-length they released self-titled, so this album is more commonly known as Bosse-de-Nage III or simply III to differentiate it from Bosse-de-Nage (2010) and Bosse-de-Nage (2011), the latter being also known as II. They eventually broke this trend with their next full-length, All Fours (2015).

On III Bosse-de-Nage play the post-black metal form of the atmospheric sub-genre, which means tons of post-rock influences in both the heavy and softer sections of music, with no reliance on keyboards to create an ambience. For the most part the band's style is tastefully crafted and intriguing, very occasionally even hinting at an underlying progressive influence, though there are equally a couple of moments during the album's six tracks where it does seem as if their ideas could have used a little trimming down in order to become more coherent compositions, the tracks being mid to long length. The longest is The God Ennui and I'd say that this is especially evident there. But overall the band's music is very pleasant, with the exception of the intentional use of feedback to begin and close the release. That's pretty uncomfortable. Bosse-de-Nage aren't the only band of their kind I've heard make use of feedback and I struggle to understand what the deal with it is. Fortunately they limit it to the start and finish only.

What further characterises III as a record is its vocals. Primarily growled with some spoken words used in some places, the style used by frontman B. pushes Bosse-de-Nage's style away from the soothing post-black metal journey of the instrumentation and into the zone of depressive black metal. There's no better way to describe how his growls sound than to say that it seems as if he's upset about something all the time. This is even to the point that there are some instances in the album where it sounds like he's quite literally bawling his eyes out about something in growling form. I'm not sure what that could be but he sounds so fucking distraught about it that it actually makes those parts of the album difficult to listen to. It's like one of those really awkward moments when you're out in public and someone, usually a kid not getting their way, is making a scene. I find it highly doubtful that this is the image Bosse-de-Nage were intending to conjure up, but that's my impression of what these parts sound like.

Overall though, there's much more to praise here than not and maybe some listeners will find the vocal style appealing, though for my part I do think it detracts a bit from my total enjoyment of the album, which I have to describe as a difficult listen. That's not an uncommon occurrence with depressive black metal release of course, it's often part of the point. III is however such an album that hasn't yet managed to reward me for sticking with it as much as I'd like, though it's impossible not to acknowledge it as a very solid work from Bosse-de-Nage, despite a few issues.

PALE MIST Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls

Album · 2016 · Depressive Black Metal
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Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls (2016) is the second full-length album by UK depressive black metal act Pale Mist. The solo project of Glomor, he's released an EP and a split in the time since the debut album Where the Darkness Is Praised (2012) was released. The album was originally released on CD and digital formats by Sinister Stench Productions with a limited cassette release following in 2017 through Heidenwut Productions.

The album opens with Through the Thick Fog of Misery and Woe, an instrumental that slowly builds up the album towards it's first vocal track, which is the title track Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls, which is noticeable more aggressive than the former, where the guitars have quite a jangly tone, which is repeated in other tracks of the album including the eighteen minute long Embraced by the Pale Mist. I rather like the tone of those parts actually; they give the record what in my experience of the black metal genre as a whole is an atypical sound. There are also quite a few more clean tone parts used on the album as well, including a second instrumental, Gazing, Opening the Barriers. When used in the tracks with vocals though the clean parts when combined with the growls create a surprisingly dark vibe, more so than the heavier parts of the album manage. The album's finale is The Welcoming Glow of the Moon, another long track at just over twelve minutes.

Though the album as a whole does fit the mood of a depressive black metal release due to its rather bleak sound and a semi-raw production it's overall a lot more accessible than some such bands are. Glomor sticks to using growls, albeit fairly tortured sounding ones, and doesn't throw any of those wailing and whimpering like clean vocals that some DSBM bands like Taiga or Todesstoß use. You know, the kind that can really grate on one's nerves after a while. Fortunately there's none of that nonsense here and Spreading My Wings into the Abyss That Calls is a better album for it. I didn't hear of this album until after the year of its release, but I definitely count it as one of my best 2016 finds from after the event.

ATLAS PAIN What the Oak Left

Album · 2017 · Folk Metal
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Folk metal and I have an unusual relationship: I'm quick to count it among my favourite styles of metal, but I can list all the folk metal bands I truly consider myself a fan of on my fingers (and if I discount the ones that are heavily based in black metal or power metal (etcetera) I only need one hand). Even more so than with death metal I'm very picky when it comes to this genre. Where am I going with this you ask? Simple - it's just so easy for a folk metal artist/release to press all the wrong buttons for me. As it's a diverse genre that can draw from a large genre pool of influences on both the folk and metal sides I wouldn't say that there's an inherent objectively 'right' way to create it (though for my money the right way is authentic folk instrumentation, but I have heard good simulated stuff too), but there are many albums out there that in one way or another seem to miss the point behind the whole folk metal idea.

Italian band Atlas Pain brand their style as 'epic-folk metal' but their debut full-length album What the Oak Left (2017) unfortunately comes across as being one of the ones that missed the point. There are two ways that folk metal acts miss the point and it's not necessarily anything to do with simulating folk melodies instead of using real instruments to create them (not every artist especially newer ones have access to such things), but rather failing to find balance between folk and metal. Some bands are strong on the folk side but lacking on the metal side. Some bands are the other way around, Atlas Pain being one of them.

These guys are a relatively new entry in the Italian metal scene and have a prior demo (2014) and an EP, Behind the Front Page (2015), under their belts. I have to give them credit where it is due, they prove themselves quite capable in their metal aspects on What the Oak Left. It's a decent and at times even brilliant debut album, energetically played, fun and has plenty of epic moments. Theirs is a symphonic take on the folk metal genre and if I listen to the album as a symphonic metal album I come away feeling a great deal of appreciation for it. Their metal backdrop draws on both power metal and melodic death metal elements and the band are clearly capable of catering to the audience of epic, catchy and polished metal music, while retaining an extreme edge thanks to the primarily growled vocals. The feel of the whole thing is primarily melodic death metal/extreme power metal, with a rare dip into more black metal orientated growls, though musically the album doesn't ever go near anything remotely black metal. It's far too polished and power metal sounding for that.

But the folk part of What the Oak Left really trips it up. It's actually the symphonic elements that end up hindering it in the long run despite providing some of the album's best and most epic moments. The impression I get it that they've been applied a bit too excessively which causes them to detract from the album's status as folk metal. The band are actually delivering some great folk melodies on a regular basis, using either the orchestrations or the lead guitar, but the whole feeling of them being simulated is hard to ignore here because the folk ideas always manage to seem of secondary importance to whatever else is going on at the time, be it an epic orchestration or a speedy power metal guitar riff.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me that approach doesn't work. It sounds more like a kind of folkish metal rather than the real thing, just like viking metal and pagan black metal can be folkish in their ways. To my ears even though I do enjoy the album it creates the nagging feeling that it's missing something, which brings me back around to what I said at the start of this review: the thing What the Oak Left is missing, if it is supposed be a folk metal album (and I can't find any reason to argue that it isn't considering Atlas Pain's own branding for their music), is the point. The clue is in the genre name. Folk metal. What that means is don't slack on your metal elements but the folk should be a dominant feature as well. I can't honestly say that's always the case here. The times the band do get it right though are very good, which gives me hope for future releases.

Just to be clear, What the Oak Left is a very good album from Atlas Pain but I have to rate it as a folk metal album and as one of those it's lacking in a crucial way. But if you want to rate it as what it actually comes across as, a folkish symphonic melodic death/extreme power metal album, then you can easily add another full star to my rating. You'll have to consider me coming away from this one with a mixed opinion.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 75 minutes ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V2
    http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/album/divine-element/thaurachs-of-borsuI didn't dig this at first but it's grown on me since giving it another go. 
  • Posted 2 hours ago in Free legal Metal Mp3 downloads
    Solo artist Markov Soroka has releases from multiple solo projects available for free on Bandcamp including the new Tchornobog release, which I highly recommend:https://markovsoroka.bandcamp.com/musicTchornobog: Black/Death/Doom metalAureole: Atmospheric Black Metal/AmbientSlow: Funeral Doom Metal
  • Posted 2 days ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V2
    Been checking out a few of the new ones on I, Voidhanger Records this evening.http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/album/esoctrilihum/mystic-echo-from-a-funeral-dimensionI'm digging this one. There's a touch of Mare Cognitum's style here but it's far from a clone act. http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/album/tchornobog/tchornobogThis is a pretty mammoth release drawing on a lot of extreme metal styles, though mostly sits in the black metal camp to my ears. It's going to take several more listens to properly digest.http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/album/lo-ruhamah/anointingThis one's unusual because I don't normally draft rate releases from I, Voidhanger Records this low. Rather than seeming progressive and avant-garde as advertised this one just came across as sounding pretty damn amateurish and uninspired to my ears. 

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