adg211288

Adam Gardiner
MMA Special Collaborator · Honourary collab/Retired Admin
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 6 hours ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

2607 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 357 4.14
2 Progressive Metal 256 4.11
3 Heavy Metal 226 3.90
4 Atmospheric Black Metal 177 4.09
5 Black Metal 140 3.82
6 US Power Metal 129 4.22
7 Folk Metal 105 3.98
8 Symphonic Metal 103 3.78
9 Thrash Metal 90 3.98
10 Non-Metal 81 3.86
11 Death Metal 77 3.88
12 Technical Death Metal 72 4.19
13 Gothic Metal 61 3.82
14 Doom Metal 51 4.02
15 Hard Rock 51 3.89
16 Melodic Black Metal 50 4.15
17 Melodic Death Metal 49 3.87
18 Metal Related 47 3.85
19 Speed Metal 40 3.88
20 Stoner Metal 38 4.16
21 Alternative Metal 34 3.46
22 Symphonic Black Metal 28 4.09
23 Death-Doom Metal 26 4.17
24 Groove Metal 23 3.63
25 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 22 4.16
26 Heavy Alternative Rock 22 3.27
27 Heavy Psych 22 4.36
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 17 3.79
33 Traditional Doom Metal 17 4.29
34 Sludge Metal 15 4.10
35 Stoner Rock 14 4.04
36 Funeral Doom Metal 13 4.08
37 Brutal Death Metal 12 3.25
38 Melodic Metalcore 12 3.38
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 Crossover Thrash 1 3.50
48 Crust Punk 1 4.00
49 Proto-Metal 1 4.00
50 Trance Metal 1 0.50

Latest Albums Reviews

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.

PARADISE LOST Tragic Idol

Album · 2012 · Gothic Metal
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After a few more commercial albums, the gothic rock/metal One Second (1997), the completely non-metal Host (1999) and the alternative/industrial influenced Believe in Nothing (2001) and Symbol of Life (2002), Paradise Lost released a self-titled effort in 2005 as their tenth album. It was one of their more shaky records, though still solid gothic metal. After that they began a new incredible run of high quality albums starting with In Requiem (2007), which saw them starting to reintroduce doom metal to their sound, some that only increased on the following Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us (2009). Most recent they've made their work noteworthy by reintroducing their early death growling style on The Plague Within (2015) and a full return to death-doom metal on Medusa (2017).

Stuck in the middle of these five albums is Tragic Idol (2012), Paradise Lost's thirteenth studio album. While not without a reasonable regard from fans, it does seem that out of the five albums released in the 2007-2017 period that it is the one that gets the least mentions, except perhaps for it's distinction as the last Paradise Lost (to date) to not use any death growling from vocalist Nick Holmes.

It's a shame that Tragic Idol seems so overlooked next to the other modern Paradise Lost albums and more so when putting it up against their earlier classic works like Draconian Times (1995), Icon (1993) and Gothic (1991), since for me this album actually represents one of the band's best works. Much like was with the case with fan favourite (and mine) Draconian Times, Tragic Idol comes equipped with an incredibly solid tracklist (here containing ten songs) where every single song is able to stand out and assert its own identity through memorable lyrics delivered with Holmes' varied and powerful vocal performance.

The album is more pure gothic metal in style that it's doomy predecessor and reaffirms why Paradise Lost are the kings of that sub-genre, though does overall have a different vibe to Draconian Times and Icon. This ability for their albums to stand out from each other is another reason why Paradise Lost must be recognised as one of the truly great metal bands to have ever existed. Very rarely does an album from them have exactly the same vibe as the previous one. What really sells Tragic Idol though is its songs. The excellent title track most of all, but also ones like Solitary One, Crucify, Fear of Impending Hell, Theories From Another World and The Glorious End all make this one of the band's most essential albums. The two prior albums were excellent but neither can claim that every song is as instantly memorable the way Tragic Idol can. I'd even rank this one above Icon for that alone.

Paradise Lost's thirteenth album may forever be known to me as the underrated one and that's the only really tragic thing about it. Fans of the band are advised to pay closer attention to this one.

PARADISE LOST Draconian Times

Album · 1995 · Gothic Metal
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With their first four albums representing a clear evolution from their beginnings as a pure death-doom metal act to a gothic metal act, Paradise Lost's fifth full-length album sees them delivering something as close to what could be considered their standard fare. Not that they really have one, as subsequent albums would go on to prove. Titled Draconian Times (1995), the album is probably the UK band's best known and well regarded release as is considered a seminal album of the gothic metal genre.

It's really got hard to hear why. Gothic metal can take a number of different forms and Paradise Lost's style is one that remains closest to its roots in doom and traditional heavy metal. As on Icon (1993), frontman Nick Holmes has now left behind any traces of growling vocals in the band's style and sings cleanly in a style that is actually not that unlike that of Metallica's James Hetfield. I've seen some describe the band as being like a meeting of that band with Black Sabbath. That's kind of accurate but only the bare bones of what they and Draconian Times actually sound like. This album has a quite polished and melodic sound but it's also dark and melancholy. There's still an element of the doom metal roots, but it'll be a long while again before Paradise Lost could be considered an actual doom metal band.

The songs themselves tend toward being catchy, memorable numbers that all easily number among the best that Paradise Lost has ever recorded. There are some clear highlights such as Hallowed Land, which features excellent use of piano and Forever Failure, which includes some spoken word samples from Charles Manson. They've a very good band at making their individual songs stand out as unique entities instead of just being part of a greater whole and Draconian Times is undeniably the best collection they ever put together, each one of them having claims to being a standout in its own right. I think it is maybe fair to say that the songs on the first half of the album have become a bit more well known, but the quality in the second half really isn't that different.

Although I've listened to gothic metal on and off for years and even had a couple of other Paradise Lost albums a bit longer than this one, it was Draconian Times that really sold me on the kind of quality that the genre has to offer when the band is a cut above the rest of the pack. Draconian Times is the kind of album that not only lives up to its hype. But also converted this previously sceptical listener into both a fan of the band and someone who now wants to active investigate other gothic metal bands.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 21 hours ago in Recently Watched Films
    Disturbing and gory Korean crime thriller. This isn't really a 'highlight' like I've been restricting the movies I post to recently, but it is worth commenting on. As it is it's an okay movie, but also the biggest disappointment I've seen for a long time. With the unusual quirky title you'd think it would be a black comedy or at least a comedy of some description. It isn't. Instead they play it out as a drama which doesn't work on so many levels but with so many scenes it's so easy to imagine how it could have been a gem as a black comedy. So much wasted potential here. Solid Liam Neeson thriller. I don't usually post the poster for re-watches, but I actually liked this one even more the second time around and it's the kind of film where I feel like I may like it even more when I eventually watch it again (because I certainly will watch this one again). It's a shame that this is so underappreciated. It's a real gem.Which leads me onto:I hadn't seen the sequel before. I found it just as good as the first one. I can't actually remember the last comedy movie I saw for the first time that had me laughing out loud as much as this one. This was one of only three times that Eastwood reprised a role (the others being his Man with No Name and Dirty Harry performances) and again it's a real shame these are so overlooked in his acting filmography. Bloody brilliant. 
  • Posted 5 days ago in Recently Watched Films
    I'm well behind here again. But here's my highlights since my last post:Good Japanese sci-fi.Quite the crime gem.The premise seems really dumb, but it's a very fun movie though very much a product of it's time.Good period drama. Not the best recent war film I've seen, I think that still has to be Hacksaw Ridge, but it came close. Underrated movie IMO. One of the best recent westerns this side of The Hateful Eight, and also one of the most unique I've ever seen. Solid western. A great is rather embellished true story.This one may even go up in my estimations after a re-watch, but it's far too weird to say I completely got it after one viewing. 
  • Posted 5 days ago in The General Film and TV Discussion Thread
    [QUOTE=adg211288]So unless they're leaving an announcement to the absolute last minute, it looks like the UK's Sky One is fucking up the Arrowverse this season. Reason? Batwoman. Absolutely no word on showing it even though Supergirl, Flash and Arrow all have known air dates in the UK now and Batwoman starts the same time as them in the US (a few days ago) and is supposed to take the second episode slot in the big crossover event this year. It seems bloody odd if they haven't picked it up, but even odder if they have and haven't even announced anything about it yet, with Supergirl returning in under two weeks. [/QUOTE] So apparently this isn't Sky's fault - the US hasn't even given them the option to take the series. Instead they're holding it back from the UK for their own new platform which doesn't and won't exist within the next two weeks, causing chaos in December when the crossover starts because we will NOT be getting episode 2 of 5. The new platform will likely be another case for extra subscription fees on top of that. Give me one good reason to watch any of these shows this season now. 

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