Adam Gardiner
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2102 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 321 4.12
2 Progressive Metal 238 4.11
3 Traditional heavy metal 200 3.84
4 Atmospheric Black Metal 132 4.09
5 US Power Metal 121 4.20
6 Black Metal 114 3.79
7 Folk Metal 102 3.92
8 Symphonic Metal 94 3.74
9 Thrash Metal 87 4.01
10 Hard Rock 81 3.83
11 Non-Metal 69 3.91
12 Death Metal 67 3.82
13 Technical Death Metal 61 4.19
14 Melodic Black Metal 45 4.07
15 Melodic Death Metal 40 3.81
16 Speed Metal 40 3.90
17 Metal Related 35 3.90
18 Doom Metal 35 3.99
19 Alternative Metal 34 3.44
20 Gothic Metal 26 3.81
21 Symphonic Black Metal 25 4.08
22 Groove Metal 23 3.63
23 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 16 3.88
24 Metalcore 15 2.90
25 Avant-garde Metal 14 3.82
26 NWoBHM 12 4.46
27 Depressive Black Metal 12 3.75
28 Brutal Death Metal 8 2.81
29 Industrial Metal 6 3.25
30 Sludge Metal 6 4.33
31 Death-Doom Metal 4 3.50
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 Death 'n' Roll 2 3.00
38 Crossover Thrash 1 3.50
39 Hardcore and crust 1 4.00
40 Proto-Metal 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

ALESTORM No Grave But The Sea

Album · 2017 · Folk Metal
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It's been almost a decade since the self-described True Scottish Pirate Metal band known as Alestorm first made waves upon the seven seas of metal to exact some Captain Morgan's Revenge (2008). The waters have been perilous as they sailed their Black Sails at Midnight (2009) and many of Captain Christopher Bowes crew have gone overboard on their quest to bring their scurvy brand of metal to unsuspecting listeners everywhere. Wait, I may have that wrong, their quest may just be to drink all our beer and steal our rum and sing a few songs along the way. With long time member Dani Evans having jumped off the black ship Alestorm in 2015, the year 2017 has them sailing with a completely rotated crew except the captain, but he at least seems as set in his course as ever.

Through their many stops along to way to No Grave But the Sea (2017) the band have brandished their own brand of metal comedy across four albums, most recently going Back Through Time (2011) to observe a Sunset on the Golden Age (2014) where they walked the plank, drank a lot of mead from hell (and got a hangover), got hit in both knees by cannonballs and had both arms cut off by Samurai. Alestorm are a hard bunch to take seriously and with each album it becomes clearer that they don't really want anyone to, because this time they're off to Mexico for three margaritas and a taco, kick a wanker in the balls and fuck him with an anchor, brew some pegleg potion and oh yes, they drink a lot. Again. They also got a dog who challenged Bowes for the captaincy, won and deleted all the vocals on the album and replaced them with barking which is why there's also a version of the album with a No Grave But the Sea for Dogs bonus disc also included.

So, business as usual then!

Well perhaps not quite. Alestorm are an easy band to laugh at which can lead to not really paying attention to them as musicians, but they're not actually the bunch of swabs they appear to be and their sound underneath all the pirate and otherwise tongue-in-cheek lyrics has actually been evolving and skill as musicians improving this past ten years at sea. No Grave But the Sea feels even more different to their past work since there's less power metal guitar in there and even less of the thrashy riffs they'd had previously. It that sense it feels to be quite a stripped back album, though a new element I feel they have on this one is the addition of some metalcore style screams, which can be heard in their self-titled song, something which I'm surprised it's taken this band this long to do, a self-titled song that is. Of course this is all neither here nor there where an Alestorm album is concerned, because that's clearly not the point of their music. The point is for it to be fun and yep, it is. My point however is that despite their apparent efforts towards complete and utter pirate buffoonery, they're not actually one trick ponies. Maybe that should be monkeys.

With that said, I didn't personally enjoy this particular Alestorm voyage as much as some of their past ones. It's easy to sit and snigger at their (admittedly often immature) brand of humour and they can certainly write a good drinking song for when it's time to down a few flagons of ale (though none as good as the previous album's Drink), but they're five albums in now and the joke seems like it might be getting a bit past it's sell-by date. They're not becalmed just yet because tracks such as the title track, Mexico and Rage of the Pentahook are still pretty decent, but the title of their previous album may end up being prophetic. Maybe the sun has set on the Golden Age of Alestorm. One thing's for sure though, they won't be going quietly.

WIEGEDOOD De doden hebben het goed II

Album · 2017 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Formed in 2014 and releasing their debut album De doden hebben het goed (2015) (The Dead Have the Right) a year later, Wiegedood (meaning Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) are still a relatively new entry on the atmospheric black metal scene. Hailing from Belgium and consisting of a three-piece line-up that includes two members of Oathbreaker, De doden hebben het goed II (2017) is, as you may have guessed from the title, their second album and a direct counterpart to their debut.

Structured in a very similar fashion to their debut as a four track atmospheric black metal album, De doden hebben het goed II is a relatively short jaunt, lasting only about thirty-three minutes. The individual tracks run for a mid to reasonable long length each, the shortest being finale Smeekbede at 6:13 and the longest being second track Cataract at 11:11. The band's style is considerably more standardised atmospheric black metal fare compared to what guitarist Gilles Demolder and drummer Wim Sreppoc play in their other band Oathbreaker (at least from their latest album Rheia (2016), as their used to be more hardcore/crust punk based), but they and frontman Levy Seynaeve (bass in atmospheric sludge metal act Amenra) nevertheless impress well enough with their take on the genre. The record is not groundbreaking but they produce a solid effort, especially on the first two of the four tracks, Ontzielling and Cataract. The trio obviously know their stuff.

The trouble with the record is that after the first impressions have worn off it's all too easy to realise that other than being 'very well done' it doesn't actually have all that much going for it as an album. That no doubt seems a contradiction but allow me to explain: It is well done, but it's also a rather generic atmospheric black metal release. It's the kind of album that's easy to enjoy if you are a fan of the genre but if your interest is of a more casual nature then it's easy for me to hear how De doden hebben het goed II could come across as being 'just another album' from a scene that is, let's be fair, rather crowded with artists.

It might help the album's case if Levy Seynaeve's blackened screams weren't of the completely indiscernible kind so there were some lyrical references to hook onto which may have made it easier to recall which track was which, because give me a half hour after the album has finished playing and the only thing I can say was definitely a part of a certain song is the final drawn out scream in Smeekbede that brings the album to a close and I'm actually unsure if that's because it is the last moment on the album so freshest in my head or if it's because that last scream actually sounds a bit ridiculous.

The point is that in any genre it's all well and good being able to craft music that fits the industry standard and even do it well, as De doden hebben het goed II actually does for most of the album. Wiegedood certainly display stronger musicianship and professionalism in their recording than the majority of newer black metal acts. But an artist needs that extra something to make them really stand out and based on the evidence presented here I do not believe that Wiegedood have found that yet.


Album · 2017 · Death Metal
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If you're a regular reader of my reviews then you may have noticed one thing about my tastes in metal: death metal and I don't exactly have a stable relationship. I like a good few technical and progressive death metal bands, but the kind of death metal act that gets branded as 'old school' and I generally aren't best buddies. There are exceptions of course, such as Krypts (from Finland), Sulphur Aeon, and Wound (both from Germany). Another band that impressed me a few years ago was the Danish act Deus Otiosus. The album was Rise (2014), and its semi-thrashy old school death metal sound really stood out to me compared to other, similarly branded bands and albums I was trying out, such as the then quite hyped up Abysmal Thresholds by Corpsessed, where the music seemed to just be a bunch of songs that blurred together with little to no identity between them.

Opposer (2017) is the follow-up to that album, the band's fourth full-length overall, and it brings more of the same to the table, though it doesn't have quite as pronounced a thrash metal edge to their riffs this time around. Though not as strong as Rise, it's clear that the Danes haven't lost what made them stand out before with this latest offering. They write good riffs instead of totally forgettable ones as per most death metal acts trying too hard to be old school and in Anders Bo Rasmussen they have a vocalist whose growls can actually be followed really quite well and being able to discern their lyrics makes all the difference in making Deus Otiosus's songs memorable. Many death metal bands just want to be as brutal as possible. Some are even good at that. But the individual songs nearly always end up being so totally forgettable that they just can't seem to make an album that leaves a lasting impression. Deus Otiosus rise above that and there's no danger of it happening to them.

Opposer is another solid death metal outing from Deus Otiosus, a band who many others professing to play the same game could learn a thing of three from. A rare band existing within a genre that often seems completely stale that manages to take the same formula as others and make it sound as if its as natural as breathing. I'm confident that come the end of the year Opposer will still stand tall as one of 2017's best old school death metal albums. In fact so far even its only one of two that's even registered on my interest, the other being Wound's Engrained that I still need to check out, but have a lot of confidence in after their excellent debut Inhale the Void (2013). The difference between Wound and Deus Otiosus? Wound's album has been out since January and it's been on my 'meaning to get around to it' list since then. I rushed to Bandcamp to hear Opposer the second I realised a new Deus Otiosus album had been released. I find it really sad how few people still seem to know about them. To my ears they deserve to be considered field leaders of their genre, though I guess 'hidden gem' isn't a bad distinction to have either.


Album · 2017 · Power Metal
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Although I was a little late to the party that is Canadian power metal act Unleash the Archers, only discovering the band through their third full-length album Time Stands Still (2015), it only took that one album for me to rank the group among the acts I consider the most promising out of power metal acts formed (or at least released their first full-length) within the last decade. A storming guitar driven work with some of the most powerful female vocals in the genre from Brittney Slayes, it ended up being my top rated power metal album of 2015, ranking ahead of even Blind Guardian. No small feat, that. Apex (2017) is Unleash the Archers' fourth album. The group has seen a line-up change since Time Stands Still with a bassist switch from Kyle Sheppard to Nikko Whitworth but otherwise the line-up of the previous album remains intact. The album was mixed and mastered by the prolific Jacob Hansen.

If there was one issue that nagged me about Unleash the Archers' previous album Time Stands Still right from the off, it was that despite the strong power metal sound they had and the excellence of their lead singer they still felt the need to throw growling vocals into their music every so often. It's such a common thing to happen now even in genres like power metal that I'm sure there are many listeners that don't even bat an eyelid to hearing growls in these genres and as Unleash the Archers actually started their career as more of a melodic death metal act perhaps it is to be expected that they wouldn't cast off their roots completely, but their presence in this band's music ended up bugging me more than most. Though the growls used by Unleash the Archers weren't exactly disruptive in any way, as they have been for other artists (such as those on French heavy/power metal act Nightmare's The Aftermath (2014)), it really did beg the question of what purpose they were there to serve by that point. The album was a power metal album. Power metal does not typically have or need growling. It is however only testament to the album's strengths that it still ended up the best power metal album of 2015 to my ears.

Fast-forward to Apex. Like it's predecessor it is a power metal album. It also has the exact same problem: growls. It is my impression that there maybe are a few less this time around, but why are they here at all? They certainly don't add any kind of edge to the music. As far as melodic power metal goes Unleash the Archers provide more than enough edge to set them apart from the crowd within the boundaries of their actual genre by avoiding the whole 'cheesy keyboards' type of cliché that has long been the subject of many jokes and even outright scorn from metalheads of other genre persuasions. I really wonder why the band do it. After all, those growled lines are all lines that aren't being sung by Brittney Slayes. When an artist has a vocalist of this calibre and they play a genre that doesn't traditionally use growling, why it's nigh on a crime against good music. Ironically though it's some clean male vocals from guitarist Andrew Kingsley during eighth track Earth and Ashes are actually a little more unwelcome, since his voice lacks the same power as Brittney's.

However Time Stands Still managed to rise above these issues, and even two years later is still an album I play regularly and can immediately recall any track from, so in that respect if Unleash the Archers can deliver more of the same then that won't actually be a bad thing. To a point the band do just that, with the highlights being Awakening, The Matriarch, Call Me Immortal and the closing title track. But all told the album's tracks don't assert their own individual identities as well as I'd have liked to hear, while False Walls even seems to be a little long at just over eight minutes, though the band pull off a similar length with the title track flawlessly. That one is a very good example as exactly why this band doesn't need those growls: Apex is the best and most epic song here, and it doesn't use them. Neither does the prior Call Me Immortal, which is a great example of a power metal song of a more mid-length with a catchy chorus.

Unleash the Archers' musicianship is of course extremely solid both rhythmically and with the lead guitar work. Brittney Slayes sounds fantastic once again. Even the growls, unnecessary though they might be, are very well done and the clean, polished production work suits the band's style perfectly. However because of the song selection Time Stands Still remains the more memorable album. Apex however is a very good supplementary work for those who already have the previous and want more from where it came from.


Album · 2017 · Doom Metal
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Swedish musician Leif Edling may be most famous for being the founder and main writer for major doom metal act Candlemass, but it more recent years he's been furthering his doom metal brand with another project, Avatarium and has two studio albums to that name already with the release of the third, Hurricanes and Halos (2017) imminent at the time of writing this review. Further enhancing his doom metal CV now is The Doomsday Kingdom, whose self-titled debut album appeared a couple of months before the third Avatarium album. Edling founded the project initially as a second solo outing following the project under his own name that spawned the album Songs of Torment, Songs of Joy (2008). He released the Never Machine Demo EP (2016) as a solo project, with a few guests to help along the way, but afterwards The Doomsday Kingdom evolved into a full band.

Avatarium fans will of course be familiar with Marcus Jidell, who again joins Leif Edling as the group's guitarist, with Edling taking on his usual bassist role. For a drummer they've brought in Andreas Johansson of Narnia, Rob Rock and Royal Hunt fame. Together the three have crafted some top quality traditional doom metal music full of heavy, prolonged riffs but also a sense of melody and an energetic attitude. Putting the finishing touches to their sound is their vocalist Niklas Stålvind, better known as the frontman of the heavy metal act Wolf, whose fans will get to hear this great singer in a bit of a different context on The Doomsday Kingdom. He certainly sounds at home within the doom metal genre, delivering powerful, often quite raw clean vocals. No better example of how well everything the group has going for them works is the third song, A Spoonful of Darkness. Now this is really what I want to hear when I think of traditional doom metal! Great vocals, heavy riffs and a menacing atmosphere without any cheapening of their brand by borrowing any elements from extreme metal.

The album is hardly a one trick pony though. Some songs have an even more upbeat feel to them. It's doom, but not necessarily gloom. While more straight-forward doom metal in direction compared to the last Avatarium album The Girl with the Raven Mask (2015) a few elements creep in that seem quite Avatarium-like, such as some light progressive and even psychedelic flavours behind the riff driven doom metal. The Sceptre is another clear album highlight in this regard, featuring a 7:19 minute long running time and some extended instrumental work where the song really goes off on a tangent in true prog style, featuring a moog solo from guest Joakim Svalberg, before returning to the song's familiar structure that it had been at previously.

The first of a double dose of new Leif Edling material for 2017, The Doomsday Kingdom may actually be the album for his fans to get their doom metal kicks this year rather than Avatarium, if the two songs released in the run up to their next album are anything to judge by. Of course they might just be holding some more full-on doom metal material back for the full album release, but in any case it would be inadvisable to pass up a copy of The Doomsday Kingdom. Edling's long history with doom metal has made him a true master of his craft. If you like doom metal and especially any of his various projects within the genre, then this is a must have.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 13 hours ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V2 adg2112882017-05-28 04:32:45
  • Posted 1 day ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V2
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  • Posted 1 day ago in Car crash
    Most I've ever been in was someone hitting the back of us when I was a kid, fortunately at slow speed so no one was hurt. Even though it must have been over twenty years ago I still remember what happened: it was on a roundabout and my Dad was driving. He was about to pull out when a car suddenly shot out at speed from another direction, forcing him to break in a hurry, so the car behind us that was already moving up went straight into our rear end. I've had a couple of near misses since I started driving, neither of which was my fault, and always on roundabouts. I bloody hate those things because no one seems to pay attention to what lane they're supposed to be in. 


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