Adam Gardiner
Forum Admin Group · Black, Folk/Viking, Power & Neo Teams
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2559 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 350 4.14
2 Progressive Metal 248 4.11
3 Heavy Metal 222 3.89
4 Atmospheric Black Metal 173 4.10
5 Black Metal 137 3.81
6 US Power Metal 129 4.22
7 Folk Metal 104 3.97
8 Symphonic Metal 103 3.78
9 Thrash Metal 89 3.98
10 Non-Metal 81 3.86
11 Death Metal 74 3.84
12 Technical Death Metal 69 4.17
13 Gothic Metal 61 3.82
14 Doom Metal 50 4.03
15 Hard Rock 50 3.88
16 Melodic Black Metal 50 4.15
17 Melodic Death Metal 47 3.86
18 Metal Related 45 3.83
19 Speed Metal 40 3.88
20 Stoner Metal 35 4.14
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 4.07
26 Heavy Alternative Rock 22 3.27
27 Heavy Psych 22 4.36
28 Viking Metal 22 4.07
29 Depressive Black Metal 20 3.85
30 Pagan Black Metal 20 3.85
31 NWoBHM 18 4.36
32 Avant-garde Metal 17 3.79
33 Traditional Doom Metal 16 4.31
34 Sludge Metal 16 4.09
35 Brutal Death Metal 12 3.25
36 Funeral Doom Metal 12 4.08
37 Stoner Rock 12 3.96
38 Melodic Metalcore 12 3.38
39 Technical Thrash Metal 11 4.14
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


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.

AUGURY Illusive Golden Age

Album · 2018 · Technical Death Metal
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It's been a long road for the Canadian technical death metal act Augury to reach their third album, Illusive Golden Age (2018). Band members have come, gone and come back again and nine years have passed them by since the release of Fragmentary Evidence (2009), which itself took five years since their debut album Concealed (2004). The band was formed in 2002 and has never been outright inactive, but three albums in sixteen years isn't the most consistent showing. Augury is forgiven for this of course due to how bloody good those first two albums were. Augury is, as far as this humble reviewer is concerned, the best death metal act to have ever existed. Concealed is the main reason for that belief, but Fragmentary Evidence also goes a long way to strengthen it. Still, making their fans wait almost a whole decade for this follow-up can't have kept them in everyone's good graces. It's been so long that now that the album actually has dropped many may have even forgotten that these guys were in fact still around and who can blame them? But the third Augury album is here now and it's time to find out if it was worth the wait.

Hell. Fucking. Yes. Yes it was.

Illusive Golden Age has the sound of an album that is both familiar if you've heard Augury's earlier work but also with a bit of a different spin on it. The more atmospheric sections of music that they like to use have seen a reduction here compared to Fragmentary Evidence, as have the clean singing vocals from frontman Patrick Loisel, who main sticks to mixing his deep growling and higher pitched screams. His clean voice is still used but don't expect a track like the previous album's Sovereigns Unknown to show up during Illusive Golden Age. After nine years away Augury seem to have made a statement that they're all about the death metal. I'm not sure that anyone ever doubted that about them as they've always had a heavy sound and Loisel's deeper growls have always been brutal as hell, but that's the best description of how this album feels compared to their previous one that I can come up with.

That's not to say that their sound has become lesser by reducing these elements of variation. After all they are still there being used to effect when needed and the level of technical skill on display seems to be higher than ever, if that was even possible, including the audible fretless bass work from Dominic 'Forest' Lapointe. This is so noticeable it's like the bass is being used as the lead instrument. Not to sell what may be some of the best and most intricate technical death metal guitar work ever recorded short here, but fretless bass guitar works so damn well in this genre that it's near impossible not to focus on it as the band's defining feature. Augury and by extension Lapointe's ventures with similar band Beyond Creation have always done this well and it really does feel like he gets to share the centre stage with the two guitarists, Loisel and Mathieu Marcotte. That's very rare for a bass player and for me it's what really makes Augury more than simply technical, but also progressive.

Due to how technical and progressive their music is calling this album straight-forward seems like the start of a bad joke, but the simple fact that matter is that Illusive Golden Age is undeniably a bit less unusual in terms of its song-writing direction, especially if you're comparing it to the often weird Concealed (which for me remains their best album) or the more atmospheric Fragmentary Evidence. I think maybe stripped back would be a more appropriate way to describe it in relation to their previous, but Illusive Golden Age can only be called generic at your own peril. Augury's ability to write coherent and mostly unelongated songs while still being so technical with their riffs should quickly squash any such thoughts you might be having about this release. They did not make their comeback as just another generic tech death act by any means. They've made their comeback with an album that still sounds distinctly like an Augury album that has its own identity from their previous two. I don't know about you readers, but I'll take it.

I haven't mentioned any specific songs from Illusive Golden Age yet and that's because of the eight it's difficult to single out any particular one and then convincingly justify why that one is better. It can't be done. At a total running time of 44:20 Illusive Golden Age is pretty easy to take in during a single listen and let it all in as a singular experience. I will say that Augury made a good choice in Mater Dolorosa as the first song released to promote the album as it is a great one for getting a feel of exactly what to expect from the album. I didn't personally have any doubts that Augury would deliver when they eventually managed to get a third album out, but this song certainly sealed the deal on a CD pre-order from me. Of course there was little doubt that I'd have bought it anyway, but that song was enough to know that I need this in my hands as soon as possible. This is the death metal album to beat in 2018. I have little faith that anyone will come close to what Augury achieved here though. The long wait is forgiven...though try not to leave it another nine years next time lads.

HEAVENS GATE Livin' in Hysteria

Album · 1991 · Power Metal
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If it were just that little bit better known I might say that the cover art of Livin' in Hysteria (1991), the second album by German power metal act Heavens Gate, was an iconic one from the nineties metal scene. A blue dragon lounges back on his rock smoking a pipe while his human slave sweeps up what appears to be the (also human) remains of his last meal. For some reason though Heavens Gate isn't a band I see mentioned half as much in relation to the early German power metal scene that they were most certainly a part of, unlike their temporaries including Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian and Rage. It was this cover that first drew me to this album. It's definitely a strking one. The CD was a chance find in a used music shop and I had no idea who the band were. The owner of the store (now sadly closed down for some years) allowed me to sample the album. I listened to the first track and then bought the album instantly. As an aside I also got my first albums from Virgin Steele and Chastain in that shop at the same time.

Heavens Gate in 1991 seemed to exist to fill the void that Helloween created by drifting away from the power metal style that they had created with their classic Keeper of the Seven Keys albums. Sure, Kai Hansen had already debuted with Gamma Ray a year earlier than this, but I've always found the sound that Heavens Gate had on Livin' in Hysteria to be a closer representation of the early power metal style that Helloween played on their classic duo, right down to the real old school metal production sound that hasn't yet been able to let go of the eighties.

This album does in fact have quite a lot in common with classic eighties heavy metal, including the vocals from Thomas Rettke, which are old school metal to the bone rather than the very melodic styles that power metal would become known for over the next decade and had in fact already been used by Michael Kiske in Helloween. Likewise their music is not drenched in keyboards or symphonic elements. In fact the biggest reason that Livin' in Hysteria is power metal is the speedy guitar riff style employed by Sascha Paeth and Bonny Bilski, which shows them to be something more than heavy metal or speed metal. It's only 1991 so it would be fair to say the sound is still on stepping stones in becoming what we now think of as power metal.

Within this old school heavy metal meets early power metal sound the best thing about the record is its actual songs, which are quickly infectiously catchy and excellent across the board. The album opens with it's title track and from there they deliver memorable numbers one after the other. There are times where it feels that Heavens Gate were specifically writing with the live environment in mind, due to the sing-along nature of the lyrical hooks in tracks such as Can't Stop Rockin'. Best Days of My Life represents the near obligatory ballad of the album, but it's one of the better ones served up by power metal albums, while the unusually titled Fredless is a short instrumental. The rest is excellent old school heavy/power metal with excellent vocals, which makes Livin' in Hysteria one of the essential early albums of its style. You can't profess to have a decent knowledge of the German power metal scene if you haven't heard this.

LEGEND Death in the Nursery

Album · 1982 · NWoBHM
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Discovering this wondrous thing called metal during the 2000's definitely wasn't to be sniffed at. By the time I really started to get invested in heavy music it had already done most of its evolving into the sub-genres we all know these days (and of course it still continues to evolve to this day). This time of discovery meant that the whole nu metal movement was on the decline, which many would say was dodging a bullet. But it also meant that younger metalheads like myself missed out on being there during what is arguably the most important movement that metal ever had or ever will have bar its original genesis in the early seventies: the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWoBHM). Sure, we still get to experience it through the recordings left behind, but while we'll all know of those who made it to become household names like Iron Maiden, Saxon or Angel Witch, many of us will miss those more obscure hidden gems that never got the same kind of attention or later reissues.

One of these gems is Death in the Nursery (1982) by Legend, a band hailing from Jersey. This album actually was reissued in 2012, but only on vinyl, a format that it has never been released beyond. A digital copy does appear on the US Amazon site, but this is not a privilege also accorded to the UK site. Since they are a band out of the NWoBHM I find that something of a kick in the teeth. Luckily, Legend's unsung classic is available for streaming via Spotify. Legend are in fact still going, having reformed in 2002 following an original 1984 split, and have released a further two studio albums, most recently in 2013. Death in the Nursery was their second and until 2003, their last.

What makes this one so good? Well for a start it comes across as pretty heavy for 1982. The riffs from sole guitarist Peter Haworth are full of bite and the band's production has more grit to it than the more polished work of say, Iron Maiden. I can't rightly say that Death in the Nursery was the heaviest heavy metal around back then, though as metal hadn't quite taken the leap forward in aggression that was thrash metal, though a bit of speed metal was about, but it seems to me as it must have been up there with the most metal driven work, lacking any kind of lingering attachment to hard rock. Furthermore, it's played with a passion and conviction that's infectious and often absent in modern heavy metal which comes drenched in so much modern production values that it just doesn't seem to have as much soul as this and other NWoBHM.

Even listening for the first time in 2018 it's impressive and brings a big smile to my face, so I can't even begin to imagine what it would have been like hearing it for the first time when it was new. I mean sure, it's not The Number of the Beast, released the same year and widely considered the finest album of the NWoBHM, but all the same I don't hear a single damn reason why Death in the Nursery should be considered any less essential to the NWoBHM canon as that seminal album. And in its title track they have what could easily be attributed to an early progressive metal song thanks to its complex instrumental break, which definitely sounds like it's before it's time. The earliest release I've heard that I'd describe as progressive metal is Siren's No Place Like Home from 1986, a whole four years after this and even though it's only one song here and only a section of it at that, that one part seems a whole lot more overt that anything else that would appear for a long time.

Legend and Death in the Nursery deserve better than it has been given so far. For starters it should at least be sold digitally all over and not just in America (again I mean come on it's a NWoBHM album and we can't purchase even an mp3 version in the UK? Lame!) and it certainly deserves a physical release beyond the vinyl. After thirty-six years a CD is long overdue. Come on Legend and record labels that specialise in old classics: make it happen! This masterpiece deserves it.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 1 day ago in Doctor Who
    Glad they found the Tardis in yesterday's episode and didn't drag it out as a series arc. I was almost ready to subtitle this season as 'Dude, Where's My TARDIS?' after the first one. 
  • Posted 3 days ago in Recently Watched Films
    Yesterday:Solid remake but I felt the plot was simplified compared to the original.Decent neo-noir crime film.Today:This is one of those films that I appreciated a whole lot more with a second watch.Another re-watch; great action movie.Re-watch. Holds up for me. A masterpiece to my eyes. Flew by in spite of a near three hour length. 
  • Posted 4 days ago in Recently Watched Films
    ^ Have to re-watch that one sometime. I really enjoyed it when I first saw it some years back. 


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