Adam Gardiner
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2352 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 340 4.13
2 Progressive Metal 244 4.10
3 Traditional heavy metal 205 3.85
4 Atmospheric Black Metal 159 4.11
5 Black Metal 138 3.81
6 US Power Metal 128 4.22
7 Folk Metal 106 3.92
8 Symphonic Metal 101 3.76
9 Thrash Metal 92 4.02
10 Hard Rock 89 3.84
11 Non-Metal 80 3.86
12 Death Metal 71 3.81
13 Technical Death Metal 65 4.16
14 Doom Metal 60 4.03
15 Melodic Black Metal 57 4.08
16 Gothic Metal 56 3.71
17 Melodic Death Metal 45 3.86
18 Metal Related 42 3.86
19 Speed Metal 40 3.90
20 Alternative Metal 34 3.44
21 Symphonic Black Metal 28 4.09
22 Groove Metal 23 3.63
23 Death-Doom Metal 20 4.10
24 Depressive Black Metal 20 3.85
25 Metalcore 16 2.91
26 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 16 3.88
27 Avant-garde Metal 15 3.83
28 NWoBHM 12 4.46
29 Brutal Death Metal 11 3.18
30 Funeral Doom Metal 8 4.06
31 Industrial Metal 6 3.25
32 Sludge Metal 6 4.33
33 Stoner Metal 5 4.00
34 Neoclassical metal 3 3.83
35 Drone Metal 3 3.50
36 Deathcore 3 2.50
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

RUBY THE HATCHET Planetary Space Child

Album · 2017 · Hard Rock
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Usually counted as a stoner rock and/or metal act, US rockers Ruby the Hatchet have clearly set out upon a different, entirely more psychedelic path with their third full-length album Planetary Space Child (2017). While I quite liked the group's first two full-lengths, Ouroboros (2012) and Valley of the Snake (2015), they did little to prepare me for this third album. This one, I literally feel blown away by. I've been launched up into the cosmos, straight into the atmosphere the music creates. Now it won't let me go, even if I wanted it to. Which I don't. Let me tell you why.

The music on Planetary Space Child is still definable as stoner like Ruby the Hatchet's first two albums, but it's better described as a heavy psych album. This blending of two closely related styles isn't an uncommon thing and in fact Planetary Space Child is actually the third such album that fits into this niche that I've listened to from 2017, after Elder's Reflections of a Floating World and Spaceslug's Time Travel Dilemma. While all three of these albums have their own sounds the thing that all three have in common is their creation of atmospheric psychedelic music. Where Elder and Spaceslug's albums could be said to sit at opposite ends of this little spectrum, the latter being the most metal of them, then Ruby the Hatchet's Planetary Space Child is the album that finds the balance between them. This is first and foremost a rock album, but one that isn't restrained in getting its metal on when the music requires a little extra oomph, with both stoner and doom metal touches in evidence.

A balance of rock and metal elements is nice, but it's not what makes Planetary Space Child such a good album. I often find that atmospheric albums, meaning anything from heavy psych/stoner rock albums like this to atmospheric black metal, often aim to take their listener on a journey and as such are all about the big picture. A common occurrence with such albums is that while many succeed at creating something enjoyable the individual songs suffer from anonymity. This is not the case with Ruby the Hatchet's Planetary Space Child, which succeeds in equal measure having that absorbing quality of an atmospheric album and the creation of individual memorable tracks that rock hard, with vocalist Jillian Taylor displaying a voice that melds in with the atmospheric sounds while also delivering lyrical hooks that stick with you long after the album has ended. The songs stand out as just that: songs. Not chapter selection points in a much longer work.

Aside from some great vocals, the instruments themselves produce many instances of memorability throughout too. A common feature is Sean Hur's organ providing the psychedelic contrast behind the hard rock, sometimes metal, guitar of Johnny Scarps, working equally well in the album's softer sections, of which there are quite a few which serve towards building the atmosphere up. I even feel inclined to mention the drumming, played by Owen Stewart, especially in regard to the third track Pagan Ritual. I'm not someone who normally pays much attention to drums. They're the kind of necessity of a rock/metal band that I would miss if they were not there but take for granted otherwise. In this track though, they really are impossible to ignore, especially in its later stages, bringing beats that really live up to the track's name. And it's trippy as hell.

And that's just scratching the surface as to why I'm so blown away by Planetary Space Child. Another reason is that it proves such a compelling album that giving it many repeat spins is easy, with no risk of boredom or over-familiarity setting in. I myself have listened to it no less than nine times just putting this review together, and expect there'll be many more to come long after this is posted. Ruby the Hatchet have an album here that has that seemingly rare combination of a great atmosphere and memorable songs. For my money I'd say others will struggle to produce a better hard rock album in 2017 than this one.

MYRKUR Mareridt

Album · 2017 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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It's fair to say the M (2015), the debut full-length album by Danish atmospheric black metal/dark folk solo project Myrkur, the moniker of musician Amalie Brunn, made quite a splash in the metal scene when it was released, albeit one that resulted in a decidedly mixed reaction. While M was nothing if not a divisive album, it's obvious that a lot of the criticism it received got well out of hand, to the point that some of the album's detractors even launched personal attacks on Brunn as a musician and as a person. Fortunately Brunn seems to have been quite thick skinned to it and rather than be perturbed she's now back with her second full-length album, Mareridt (2017).

Mareridt is in some ways similar in M, but it's also very different once you get into it. The biggest change has to be that Myrkur has used a lot more pure folk elements this time around to the point that I'd even say these make up around half the album, what with full folk songs like Crown included and the influence cropping up in at least a small way in almost every track. There's still enough metal here to think of Mareridt as a metal album though. Most of the metal songs use atmospheric black metal rhythms, though that actually only means that four of them do; Måneblôt, Elleskudt, Ulvinde and Gladiatrix, as Mareridt, Crown, De Tre Piker and Ketteren are all pure folk songs, which leaves only three further tracks on the album that don't belong primarily to either genre. The atmospheric black metal parts, when present, feel much more honed and focussed this time, making them easier to recognise even with Myrkur's atypical use of clean vocals as her primary singing style.

The metal parts on Mareridt are more varied compared to M though thanks to a greater presence of doom metal influences, something I detected only ever so slightly on M. They're much more pronounced here, particularly on the tracks The Serpent and Funeral, the latter of which proves aptly named for its style as it seems closer to funeral doom metal to me than anything. Slow, heavy, subdued and sombre work and easily the darkest sounding song on the album. It also features Chelsea Wolfe on vocals and guitars. It's a short song, as are all the songs on Mareridt, lasting only three minutes, but it's enough to show that the two ladies work well together. One can only hope this will one day lead to a proper collaboration between the two. It's just screaming to happen with this track, which barely scratches the surface of what may be possible if they joined forces for a whole album.

Regarding the vocals, there are actually less growls on Mareridt than ever before in Myrkur's music, only really being used in a major way on singles Måneblôt and Ulvinde (with a little bit in the background on Gladiatrix). With those two tracks released first it was actually really surprising how growl-free the rest of Mareridt is, but maybe that is for the best. Myrkur does decent growls, particularly the ones on Måneblôt are easily the best and fiercest she's ever done, but clean singing is where she excels. Her ethereal voice works equally well with her folk music tracks, but also against the atmospheric black metal guitars. She's proof, if any was needed by this point, that it's perfectly possible for at least the atmospheric branch of this particular genre to exist without the traditional vocal style. With that said, the growled parts do really add some extra punch and if there's a criticism to be had it's that the album could do with a couple more of these moments. But only a couple more.

While the lower amount of metal may lessen Mareridt's appeal to the metal crowd, the album flows between its soft and heavy parts incredibly well, feeling natural and not forced. While I regard M highly, Mareridt certainly feels a lot more refined and ultimately comes across as the stronger release. While there are individual track highlights to be had, namely Måneblôt, Elleskudt, Funeral and Ulvinde, the overall short running time makes it a very easy album to experience in one sitting and that's the only way to do it if you want to hear all the elements work just right. The only real eyebrow raising moment is it's finale, Børnehjem, which features a voice over that sounds like a demonic little girl. It's basically an outro fortunately, but it makes me feel as if the audio track of a cheesy horror film got mixed in by mistake. I don't think it sounds bad, more like out of place with the rest of the release. Still, I can't hold the final 2:22 minutes against Myrkur when the rest of Mareridt is such quality work. It probably won't win over her most fervent haters, but those who enjoyed the self-titled EP (2014) and M, as well as acoustic live release Mausoleum (2016), are sure to find much to enjoy here.


Album · 2017 · Death-Doom Metal
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Although the UK's Paradise Lost may have started as a death-doom metal band and arguably were the originators of that particular fusion, after a few albums they ventured deeper into the territory of gothic metal and it's for this genre that they are no doubt most famous for now, with Draconian Times (1995) and Icon (1993) usually counted as their best releases and pillars of the entire gothic metal genre. They turned away from metal briefly on the album Host (1999) but were quick to return to it on Believe in Nothing (2001). Mostly sticking to the gothic metal genre ever since, they've gradually been reintroducing doom metal elements to their music and on The Plague Within (2015) took things a step further back towards their roots with the reintroduction of death growling vocals. This has paved the way for Medusa (2017), the band's fifteenth studio album and their first album to fully embraced death-doom metal since Shades of God (1992).

I say fully, but what I really mean is that Paradise Lost have made death-doom metal the main focus of their music on Medusa. They also retain some more regular doom metal parts with clean vocals and an influence of the gothic metal style they've played throughout most of their career, but it's now taken a back seat in terms of their playing style, particularly in the guitars. Lead single The Longest Winter would suggest that not much has changed in camp Paradise Lost, being one of the more gothic songs with primarily clean vocals from Nick Holmes, but this is an illusion that is quickly dispelled when you start the album from the very beginning when the band serve up the album's longest track Fearless Sky. This one is quite the opposite affair, with growling vocals taking centre stage, which is the same case with the following Gods of Ancient and is subsequently shown to be the theme of the album.

While Holmes still uses plenty of clean singing - in fact after a back to back listen my impression is that there may even be a little more on Medusa than The Plague Within had - there are certainly more growls and an overall focus on extreme metal. The key difference to its predecessor that sets the two albums apart is the instrumental shift back to a doom metal dominant sound and an increase in general heaviness, though the music isn't as menacing or outright malevolent as some death-doom metal can be. If I was to choose any word to describe it I'd have to say modern. It's definitely more accessible than a lot of groups of this style are. That's what ultimately helps to make it a memorable release though, with tracks such as Fearless Sky, From the Gallows, Blood and Chaos and Until the Grave staying with me long after the album's conclusion.

If you're mainly a fan of the band's early days, this album can only be good news and perhaps even something you'd never have imagined possible, even after the growl heavy The Plague Within which was still musically more of a gothic metal album. If you prefer their fully clean sung gothic metal work though then Medusa may spell disappointment for you. That's the inherent trouble with a band that has changed their sound more than once. Hopefully most fans can appreciate both of Paradise Lost's core styles of metal and will embrace Medusa as an excellent throwback album that still has enough of their gothic metal style to retain at least some interest from gothic metal fans, though I would say gothic fans have more for them on the special editions of the album that include two bonus tracks that lean more this way; Shrines and Symbolic Virtue, which add almost a further ten minutes to Medusa's total playing time and go a long way towards evening out the doom and gothic metal elements on offer.

For my money though the base eight track album alone is an exceptional release from Paradise Lost. 2017 is certainly shaping up to be a great year for the doom metal genre, with many great and inventive albums released already, but Paradise Lost striking back to reclaim the death-doom throne they vacated twenty-five years ago may just be the doom metal event of the year.


Album · 2017 · Doom Metal
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Following their debut EP The Gods Below (2016), Australian band Devil Electric have wasted no time in upgrading to the full-length album format. Devil Electric (2017) is their self-titled debut album. Of the EP's trackd The Dove & The Serpent has been carried over but the remainder of the nine track album is new material.

The music on Devil Electric flits between some very heavy hard rock and even heavier doom metal. The doom metal parts, which were the more dominant feature of The Gods Below EP, have a very old school quality to them and it's easy to think of the early pioneers of the metal genre like Black Sabbath when listening to the music. For me, the doom parts are the bigger draw to the band, but the hard rock side of the album is equally expertly executed and provides a great contrast of sounds and riff ideas and ultimately helps create a stronger album. Though Devil Electric are to my ears the heavier band and don't flirt with psych influences as much (I'd say there's the lightest of touches of it here) it's also easy to put this debut in the same ballpark as the early work of Blood Ceremony, at least regarding their mix of hard rock and doom metal elements. Very different bands beyond that. Devil Electric also display the occasional bluesy touch, especially with the lead guitar parts.

While the heavy music played by the trio of instrumentalists, guitarist Christos Athanasias, bassist Tom Hulse and drummer Mark van de Beek, is incredibly satisfying on its own, I have to say that it's singer Pierina O'Brien who absolutely steals this show. Demonstrating a voice that has a power capable of withstanding the heavy music behind her and also seeming to be in complete control of it, she's equally effective during lively hard rock or subdued doom metal parts that the album serves up. It's her commanding performance that makes the album an absorbing experience and makes it very easy to listen to the whole thing a second time as soon as you've finished it.

Of course it's not actually that long of a record at 36:13 minutes, but we're definitely dealing with a work that is a proponent of quality over quantity. There are a couple of shorter instrumentals that serve more as interludes, albeit substantial ones, Monolith and Lilith, but otherwise Devil Electric deliver excellent hard rock/doom metal tracks. Monologue (Where You Once Walked), Lady Velvet and The Dove & The Serpent are quick to stand out as highlights.

Perhaps the biggest issue facing the album is that Devil Electric have carried over The Dove & The Serpent from The Gods Below EP but not the other equally excellent tracks, which haven't to date seen a release on CD format, only digital and a limited run of 7” vinyls (as The Gods Below Vol. I and The Gods Below Vol. 2). Devil's Bells, the first song from the EP, definitely has its absence on this full-length debut felt. Of course bands aren't obligated to tack on their prior EP tracks to a full-length but if you're going to do it for one of them...

That minor quibble aside, it's impossible to come away from Devil Electric not feeling very enthusiastic about it as an album and them as a band. It may be the case that on future releases they settle with either the hard rock or doom metal side that this one displays but no matter what they do they've set the groundwork here for it to be something even more spectacular. The spirit of heavy rock and metal is very much alive here.


Album · 1993 · Hard Rock
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Originators of the European brand of power metal Helloween have a lot of fans who will tell you any chance they get that Michael Kiske is the true voice of the band, likely giving respect to Kai Hansen along the way for his performance on their earliest material including the debut album Walls of Jericho (1985). They rarely outright deride replacement and now much longer standing vocalist Andi Deris, but it's often implied that he can't hope to match Kiske. Kiske's reputation as part of Helloween though is built entirely upon the Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I (1987) and Part II (1988) albums. What these fans usually forget to mention is that the other two albums Kiske did with the band are about as much loathed as the two Keeper albums are loved, which actually makes his tenure in the band a pretty damn patchy one. While I personally find the humorously named Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991) to be a bit unjustly bashed, I struggle to find much of a defence for what has to be the band's most disliked album, Chameleon (1993). It was Helloween's fifth studio album and was the last to feature Kiske as well as drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg, who would commit suicide two years later at the age of 29.

To round off the train of thought about whether or not Kiske is or isn't the true voice of Helloween, I can't really fault his performance on Chameleon. It's the lone thing about the album that never falters in its quality. So maybe the fans who say this do have a point. What Kiske can't do though is save this album from being a complete middling affair from Helloween. Good vocals don't elevate the quality of the writing, the biggest defence of which is the fact that Chameleon is a pretty varied album. More so then the typical power metal release is. That's the start of its problems though: Chameleon isn't a power metal release. Sure, the prior Pink Bubbles Go Ape was debatable on that front as well after the two Keeper of the Seven Keys albums kick-started the Euro style off, but the bigger problem here is that Chamelon isn't only not a power metal album, it's also not a metal album at all. Helloween have removed most traces of their metal sound on this album, favouring hefty amounts of acoustic guitars and abundant pop influences.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that even when it comes to one of metal's catchiest and most commercial genres like power metal (which several other German bands like Blind Guardian, Running Wild and Kai Hansen's own Gamma Ray continued to champion the development of during Helloween's Pink Bubbles Go Ape/Chameleon phase) this isn't something most fans at the time would have wanted to hear. Chameleon often doesn't even deserve the distinction of being a hard rock album given how many soft parts are present, sometimes even hinting at AOR influences. A few metal riffs here and there, such as in the first song First Time, offer up a little hint at the band's roots, which they'd fortunately return to on their next album Master of the Rings (1994), but most of what made Helloween a respected metal band has been stripped away. With an over seventy minute duration Chameleon certainly goes on for too long as well, with several songs coming across as filler, not least among them the single Windmill, which the late Ingo Schwichtenberg was known to refer to as 'Shitmill' and quite justifiably.

Were this the debut album of a different band or simply didn't have the Helloween name on it then maybe Chameleon would have a better reputation today, over twenty years since its release. For all its faults as a Helloween album Chameleon is actually quite listenable for most of the time once you look past what else the band has done both before or since. To my ears it could never be considered a great album but it's not as bad as its often made out to be. If its Helloween you're interested in though, then there are currently fourteen other studio albums that you should get before this one.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 4 hours ago in Paradise Lost
    You'll hear bits in Medusa that are closer to their more pure gothic material, but overall it's back to death-doom. Actually, I find it a more pure death-doom metal affair than Shades of God. The more I listen to Medusa the more I think that the single Blood and Chaos is even a bit melodeath. [TUBE]f1Jh36OMXFE[/TUBE] adg2112882017-09-25 13:21:58
  • Posted 5 hours ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V2
  • Posted 6 hours ago in Paradise Lost
    It's the closest, but you so start getting a few gothic metal elements even that early. 


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