siLLy puPPy

MMA Special Collaborator · Prog/AG Team
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Favorite Metal Artists

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1402 reviews/ratings
THOUGHT INDUSTRY - Songs for Insects Technical Thrash Metal | review permalink
THOUGHT INDUSTRY - Mods Carve the Pig: Assassins, Toads and God's Flesh Technical Thrash Metal | review permalink
NOKTURNAL MORTUM - Lunar Poetry Symphonic Black Metal | review permalink
CARACH ANGREN - Where The Corpses Sink Forever Symphonic Black Metal | review permalink
GORGUTS - Obscura Technical Death Metal | review permalink
KING CRIMSON - In The Court Of The Crimson King Proto-Metal | review permalink
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace Thrash Metal | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
INFECTIOUS GROOVES - The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move... It's the Infectious Grooves Funk Metal | review permalink
BEHEMOTH - Demigod Death Metal | review permalink
KYUSS - Welcome To Sky Valley Stoner Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - ...And Justice for All Thrash Metal | review permalink
SLAYER - Reign in Blood Thrash Metal | review permalink
DARKTHRONE - A Blaze in the Northern Sky Black Metal | review permalink
BROCAS HELM - Black Death US Power Metal | review permalink
BROCAS HELM - Defender of the Crown US Power Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Ron Thal / Hermit Progressive Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Ron Thal / The Adventures Of Bumblefoot Progressive Metal | review permalink
EDGE OF SANITY - Crimson Melodic Death Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Non-Metal 164 3.01
2 Progressive Metal 127 3.93
3 Alternative Metal 127 2.94
4 Avant-garde Metal 97 3.96
5 Hard Rock 95 3.51
6 Black Metal 78 3.68
7 Metal Related 72 3.50
8 Heavy Metal 60 3.77
9 Technical Death Metal 55 3.97
10 Death Metal 47 3.79
11 Thrash Metal 36 3.63
12 Proto-Metal 34 4.00
13 Atmospheric Black Metal 30 3.68
14 Power Metal 19 3.82
15 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 18 4.08
16 Folk Metal 16 3.91
17 Glam Metal 15 3.57
18 Industrial Metal 14 3.75
19 Death-Doom Metal 14 3.71
20 Technical Thrash Metal 14 3.79
21 Symphonic Metal 14 3.86
22 Sludge Metal 14 3.79
23 NWoBHM 13 4.15
24 Brutal Death Metal 13 3.50
25 Doom Metal 13 4.04
26 Funk Metal 12 4.17
27 Grindcore 11 3.59
28 Hardcore Punk 11 3.36
29 US Power Metal 11 3.77
30 Symphonic Black Metal 10 4.20
31 Metalcore 10 3.60
32 War Metal 9 3.44
33 Neoclassical metal 8 3.69
34 Mathcore 8 3.94
35 Melodic Black Metal 8 4.06
36 Groove Metal 8 3.44
37 Depressive Black Metal 8 3.25
38 Deathcore 8 3.44
39 Melodic Death Metal 7 4.00
40 Speed Metal 7 3.50
41 Stoner Metal 7 3.79
42 Gothic Metal 7 3.43
43 Pagan Black Metal 5 4.10
44 Traditional Doom Metal 5 3.60
45 Funeral Doom Metal 5 4.00
46 Drone Metal 5 3.50
47 Goregrind 4 3.13
48 Heavy Alternative Rock 4 3.50
49 Heavy Psych 4 4.13
50 Nu Metal 3 3.33
51 Stoner Rock 2 4.25
52 Deathgrind 2 3.50
53 Crossover Thrash 2 4.75
54 Crust Punk 2 2.75
55 Cybergrind 1 3.50
56 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50
57 Electronicore 1 2.00
58 Melodic Metalcore 1 4.00
59 Nintendocore 1 3.50
60 Metal Related Genres 1 4.00
61 Pornogrind 1 0.50
62 Rap Metal 1 1.00
63 Trance Metal 1 1.00
64 Viking Metal 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

ADAGIO Sanctus Ignis

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
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Considered by many to be the French version of Symphony X mixed with Rhapsody Of Fire, the progressive power metal band ADAGIO was formed by guitarist Stéphan Forté in the year 2000 after graduating from the CMCN music school (now known as the Music Academy International.) The band was initiated for the love of Yngwie Malmsteem’s virtuosic neoclassical shedding style which Forté mastered without missing a beat. While ADAGIO would later develop a stronger symphonic side of its person a with choirs and elements of progressive rock, this 2001 debut SANCTUS IGNÍS showcases a fairly straight forward style of progressive power metal much in the vein of the US act Symphony X to the point that this could really pass as some lost album of the New York based prog metal champions.

The band originally formed in Montpellier in the south of France but has since relocated to Paris. Ironically the moniker ADAGIO is an Italian term that means “at ease” and refers to a slow tempo whereas the band itself is known for its extremely fast tempos. While not exactly cranking up a storm at the level of say Dragonforce, ADAGIO does turn up the heat on much of SANCTUS IGNÍS with the emphasis on Forté’s neoclassical guitar shredding style however often it does site back in the mix while tapestries of keyboard sound dominate the soundscape. This album consists of 9 tracks and races past the 58 minute mark and while the album contains no sprawling 20 minute behemoths it does have one track, “Seven Lands Of Sin” that just misses the 12 minute mark.

When you’re listening to SANCTUS IGNÍS you really just can’t shake the Symphony X comparisons because at this stage ADAGIO is really the perfect clone of one of the US’s most referred progressive power metal bands. There is a distinct classical underpinning for melodies with stomping guitar riffs that build up tension and climax with sizzling solos carried out with power metal gusto. David Readman has particularly strong vocals and belts out these demanding vocal performances with ease although his talents are overshadowed by the fact he sounds like a gazillion other vocalists out there which is pretty much the problem with ADAGIO’s debut in every regard. This album simply lacks an ounce of originality that sets it apart from any other album in the demanding world of progressive power metal.

The saving grace of SANCTUS IGNÍS is that the musicianship is top notch and the album is not at all an unpleasant listening experience in the least. If you are hell bent for leather to track down every possible band that worships the alter of bands like Symphony X and Rhapsody of Fire then ADAGIO will give you orgasmic sensations until your eyes bulge out however like many bands of this ilk, ADAGIO at this stage is woefully bereft of inspiration and going through the motions for their own sake. Add to that the band isn’t nearly as accomplished as either Symphony X or Rhapsody in constructing interesting compositions that display a wide range of motifs that construct a much larger movement. Music like this has to have a higher purpose that allows the progressive power metal to support otherwise it just feels like an empty shell. I would say that SANCTUS IGNÍS is superior to the first two Symphony X albums but pales in comparison to some of that band’s later efforts. Extraordinary in execution but underwhelming in the compositional department.

MARILYN MANSON We Are Chaos

Album · 2020 · Industrial Metal
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MARILYN MANSON is of course a 90s rock icon with his slew of albums starting with the shocking portrayal of American values on “Portrait Of An American Family,” the irreverence and industrial metal heft of “Antichrist Superstar” and his most controversial album “Mechanical Animals” which got him accused of ripping off David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona however soon after those releases and an excellent hit single in the form of the Eurythmics cover “Sweet Dreams,” Brian Hugh Warner who as MARILYN MANSON led the band of the same name seemed to run out of steam after blowing his wad on his 90s output. After the “Mechanical Animals” fiasco MANSON returned to his guitar based creepy persona for “Holy Wood” but something just sounded off on that one and insincere. I never pursued MANSON’s releases from then on and basically just ignored them as one review and critique after another simply tore them apart for being insidiously boring musical dross.

Being irrelevant for two decades seems to break many artists and send them away packing but nobody can accuse MANSON of not being persistent. While i have none of the albums since “Holy Wood” to compare this to, for some reason i felt compelled to explore a new release from MANSON and lo and behold a new album just emerged on September 11, 2020, MANSON’s 12th titled WE ARE CHAOS. Obviously things have changed since the lineup featured Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gary, Ginger Fish and Robin Finck who all played their parts well in the most dysfunctional band of the 90s. Many musicians have come and gone but sometime in the not so distant past MANSON hooked up with Shooter Jennings, song of the infamous outlaw country star Waylon Jennings who has taken up the task of producing WE ARE CHAOS.

Album #12 returns to the days to the concept album days of the 90s and even takes on the retro feel of an LP of yore with two distinct sides and a playing time of only 42 minutes and 27 seconds. Having cited Elton John and Bernie Taupin as a main influence, it’s no surprise that the piano plays a prominent role in crafting discernible and instinctively hooky melodies that provide the underpinning of much of the album’s run. Despite the hero worship of 70s pop, i would say that the overall melodic flow is the closest thing to 1996’s “Antichrist Superstar” that i’ve heard at least with many of those familiar returns to MANSON’s soft whispered parts alternating with angsty punk shouts and heavy metal guitar heft in tandem with crafty industrial electronica. While the album misses the mark of providing as impactful experience as his lauded multi-platinum best seller, WE ARE CHAOS is quite the surprise that it is an extremely listenable album that although dusting off old ideas for contemporary use, manages to remain engaging throughout its ten track playing time.

While the metal aspects pale in comparison to the earliest days, the return of the Goth and glam is in full regalia on WE ARE CHAOS. The familiar melodic hooks that remind me of all those classic tracks like “The Beautiful People,” “Angel With The Scabbed Wings” and tracks such as “The Reflecting God” seem more like rejects from “Antichrist Superstar” as they lack the immediacy despite the strong hooks and similar feel however this is a much more mature version of MANSON and 24 years on sounds much better than anyone could’ve ever hoped especially after a slew of extremely uninteresting specimens of musicality. While this album does tend to cast MANSON as someone who is looking back for ideas rather than innovation, in his case where the innovation of the past 20 years has resulted in dismal ennui, i can’t say that it wasn’t a great idea to focus on what made you stand out in the first place rather than something you have no business tackling.

While MARILYN MANSON has never been a favorite band, i do love the first three albums enough to cherish them as some top picks of the 90s but MANSON as a personality just rubs me the wrong way. With the accusations of Satanic pedophilia from celebrities like Isaac Kappy MANSON has been vilified once again and perhaps has brought some renewed interest in his career but judging from WE ARE CHAOS, it is doubtful that MANSON will ever match the heyday of his 90s output despite crafting a pleasant retro album that is perhaps a bit too tame for his wild image as the album’s metal heft is more on the side of “Mechanical Animals” rather than the first two albums. Still though, i’m not disappointed that i at long last have checked out a new MANSON album. The dude still has the vocal chops to pull off his wicked unique style of industrial goth rock but despite strong melodies and songwriting prowess, the album still seems a bit too tame and could use some faster more upbeat tracks to offer some needed contrast. The title track is almost pure Goth pop rock as are several other tracks. This one is decent but far from the needed comeback in the modern era. Once again i think i will ignore Mr MANSON next time around.

HAKEN Virus

Album · 2020 · Progressive Metal
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Having released its first album “Aquarius” only a decade ago, HAKEN has since become one of prog metal’s most celebrated and anticipated acts with a series of albums and EPs that show a band that loves to change things up on every release without losing the core idiosyncrasies that makes this English band stand out from the prog metal pack. Despite the stylistic shifts from album to album one can easily distinguish the first three albums more focused on the progressive rock side of the equation from the latest three which crank out a more bombastic metal heft often at the expense of falling into the traps of mediocrity which was particularly so on the band’s last album “Vector.” It seemed as if HAKEN was fresh out of ideas and innovation and was resorting to a paint-by-numbers techniques of songwriting but with the band’s sixth album VIRUS, the inspiration seems to have returned and although i wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to check out a new HAKEN album, i have been pleasantly surprised that this is a well-thought out intricately designed expression of prog metal in the modern era.

Although its merely happenstance that the title VIRUS was picked for an album that came out in the year that is all about microscopic pathogens, the title refers more to mental psychopathies rather than the physical varieties. This album that clocks in just shy of the 52 minute mark encapsulates themes that arise in the form of institutional abuse as well as physical and metal abusive relationships, anxiety, depression as well as suicide. Musically the album merges both aspects of the band’s well known sounds. While rooted in the heavy djent-ish guitar riffs of the later albums, HAKEN has returned to its atmospheric roots by adding emotive counterpoints meticulously engineered and mixed by ex-Periphery bassist Adam “Nolly” Getgood. The result of this grab bag of HAKEN-isms is a stellar well-balanced album that celebrates a decade of prog metal ingenuity cleverly truncated into a single album’s listening experience.

The album starts off with the lead single “Prosthetic” which was the first track crafted by the band and which sets the tone for the entire album’s feel. The track immediately blends the eerie atmospheres with heavy guitar stomping bombast steeped in staccato palm muting action and accompanied by technically infused energetic drum workouts. At this stage in the band’s career i would say they sound more like where Leprous should’ve been heading had they not abandoned their metal origins altogether and steered into sleepy time prog. The album continues with twelve tracks that blend the subtle melodic counterpoints of vocals, guitar and bass with the soaring keyboard accoutrements and jazzy drum workouts. The twin guitar attacks are tastefully reserved with dueling riffs and occasional soloing as extended pastiches of the emotive lyrical directions. The brashness of the slightly atonal djent guitar orotundity during the heavier parts in conjunct with Ross Jennings fragile and expressive vocal parts offer a beautiful contrast that works on all levels.

The highlight of the album has to be the five part “Messiah Complex” which is a tale of the ascent to power, tyranny and subsequent endgame beautifully brought to life by a series of musical motifs and musical gymnastics not heard from HAKEN since “The Mountain” such as the beautiful vocal harmonies heard on “Marigold.” Despite the multi-suite magnitude of these tracks the individual parts are actually quite succinct with most just over two minutes and the grand finale “Ectobius Rex” just missing the five. Some of the most daring prog metal gymnastics occur in these final moments when wrestlers guitars riff up a storm with jittery time signature ambushes and Gentle Giant inspired vocal games emerge unexpectedly in “The Sect” along with angelic atmospheric backdrops and groovy rhythms, sizzling little solos and even a few video game noises. After a climactic finale of the “Messiah Complex” suite, the album tenderly drifts off into the spacey closer “Only Stars” which drops the metal altogether and offers a little dream pop ambience.

While HAKEN started out with a series of strong albums that crafted an intricate display of metal and prog in a powerful combo effect, on “Affinity” the band started to get cold feet and retreated from the more ambitious mingling of styles that got them noticed in the first place. While “Vector” was a step up at least in terms of quality of the composiitons, the band was still suffering from sounding generic and failed to stand out from millions of similar sounding bands. Happy to say that on VIRUS these guys have struck gold again by taking the heaviness of the last two albums and bringing back the diverse elements that made the first three albums so unique. Add a little emphasis on staccato driven grooves and an incessantly eerie atmospheric presence accompanied by strong melodic vocal performances and i can only conclude that HAKEN has made a triumphant return to form. While HAKEN will never rank high as one of my favorite bands of all time, i do enjoy their unique stylistic approach that they have made all their own even if influences are sometimes a bit too close for comfort. VIRUS doesn’t miss a beat and offers an album’s worth of updated HAKEN tunes to allow you to forget about the wild roller coast ride that is 2020, at least for nearly an hour’s length.

BUCKETHEAD Pike 283 - Once Upon A Distant Plane

Album · 2020 · Alternative Metal
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BUCKETHEAD’s 2020 return hasn’t exactly been up to the level of previous years but he’s certainly been cranking out more products than the average artist with five releases so far this year along with a something fairly new which is a bunch of singles. Always finding a way to be a bit off kilter and a major headache for databases, the chicken lover has hatched a new egg from the coop in the form of PIKE 283 - ONCE UPON A DISTANT PLANE but the wild thing is that this follows “Pike 279 - Skeleton Keys” so it’s clear that a bunch of PIKEs have hatched but not been completely finished and BH is releasing them out of order.

This is another around 30 minute PIKE with six tracks and fits right in with pretty much a majority of those in the PIKE serious. It’s all instrumental, heavily steeped in alternative rock / metal and finds the prolific one playing all the instruments. Also like many PIKEs these days, it has a been there / done that familiarity that doesn’t really allow it to stick out from the incessant flow of PIKEs of the last 10 years.

The opening title track runs over ten minutes and easily swallows up a third of the playing time. While familiar sounding it is a bit different in that is mixes the slow lullaby styled slower PIKE tunes with the heavier alternative ones in that it has a slower mid-tempo procession with spaced out atmospheric backing with crunchy guitar heft with echo effects. Melodically it sounds like a gazillion releases before but on the production end of things it’s much more refined in how a warm atmospheric haze oscillates in the background.

“The Cosmic Mirror” pretty much follows the same way. Introductory echoey spaced out guitars find electric guitars slow build up. The familiar melody and dynamics doesn’t make this one stand out much. “Space Beyond Question” is a bit more interesting with a nice groove and then sounds like a banjo part followed by some cool guitar distortion and unique drum interaction. This is the kind of track i keep sticking around to listen to the next PIKE however these interesting gems are too far and few between these days. This is one of those tracks that changes up tempo, dynamics, timbres and time signatures and the kind i love best from BUCKET-Bro. Sounds a bit like something that could’ve been on “Monsters And Robots,” one of my top BH picks.

“The Miner’s Lamp” is another satisfying groovy metal track that quickly transmogrifies into an avant-garde space sequence then to funk metal and then back to the clean guitar avant-prog weirdness and then back to a bombastic metal groovy stomp sequence. It’s just as innovative and basically based on the blues but very cleverly done. Another winner! The final two tracks showcase another new phenomena as of 2020 with BH adding a track or two of live tracks that appeared on previous PIKES.

“Ghosts Of Broken Eggs” originally appeared on “Pike 101 - In The Hollow Hills and is basically a slow bluesy rocker that showcases some guitar soloing. Nothing super exciting compositionally speaking but well performed. The second live track is the title one from the more recent “Pike 274 - Forneau Cosmique” which begins with a clean space rock guitar but quickly erupts into the now classic alternative metal groove from countless PIKEs. BH basically solos around a rather ho hum metal riff. These types of BH tracks are undynamic and not really my favorites but the track is competently performed and decent if you haven’t heard a gazillion almost identical examples.

Overall PIKE 283 will be remembered more for being released before PIKEs 280-282 in the wild rollercoaster ride of 2020. Two tracks: “Space Beyond Question” and “The Miner’s Lamp” are excellent top notch BH material and although the rest of the album isn’t OMG excellent creatively speaking, this is a fairly consistent PIKE in its content and presentation. Good but not really the best of the best.

ULCERATE Stare into Death and Be Still

Album · 2020 · Technical Death Metal
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Having formed as far back as 2002 in the northern New Zealand city of Auckland, the technical metal wizardry of ULCERATE has become an extreme metal lover’s paradise of thick caustic guitar riffing dissonance that dishes out some of the most hellish and demanding tech death meets sludge metal that rode the wave of the surreal tech death craze that included bands like Gorguts, Portal, Mitochondrion and Pyrrhon. Add to that the jangly blood-curdling guitar sweeps found in progressive black metal acts like Deathspell Omega and you could be guaranteed to scratch that tech death morbidity itch with any of ULCERATE’s output which began with 2007’s “Of Fracture And Failure.”

Following the band’s last album “Shrines of Paralysis” which saw the light in 2016 comes the aptly titled (for 2020) album STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL and considering the album was released in April of 2020, it’s unlikely the album prognosticated the tumultuous chain of events haunting this calendar year with the most noticeable headache being the Covid-19 global pandemic. Like many such tech death acts that strive to unleash the most fiery caustic acrobatics of complexity and detachment possible, ULCERATE has found a new lease on life by crafting a less suffocating album that walks a tightrope between the heavy bombastic dissonance and downtuned dread of the previous offerings and adds a bit more atmospheric prowess in the form of melodic counterpoints and production clarity.

STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL in many ways is business as usual with that brutal atmospheric tech death scourge of midtempo sludginess with percussive laziness alternating with mind-numbing drumming wizardry but something seems more focused on this sixth album by ULCERATE, a band that i have never quite wrapped my head around despite owning the majority of their discography and giving proper attention for the clicking process. Something about this band has always turned me off whether it be the cadences of the dirge-like plodding of the martial rhythms, the depressive chunky riffs or the brutal bombast of the metal pummeling the senses with dissonant bleakness after a nuclear bomb drops. STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL is the album for me that final appeals to my tech death sensibilities and it seems the extra attention to the atmospheric counterpoints of the wind-swept guitar sweeps and fine-tuned compositional constructs are just what the doctor ordered. I can relate to this one unlike the ones prior.

One of my major hurdles regarding the appreciation of ULCERATE’s tech death has clearly been the vocal style of Paul Kelland. For no clear reason his growly vocal style has rubbed me the wrong way like an infested sore filled with hatching maggots An irritating and enervating factor which while unexplainable still provided the wrong “frequency” of death metal vocal bliss for my ears to appreciate but that too has changed on this one.. Something shifted on STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL where all the elements of ULCERATE’s prior musical style have aligned like a rare syzygy of astrological bonanzas that offer a bright future as shown in the cards. The clouds have lifted and although a bleak depressive sky still exists beyond the veil, its’ the kind of turbid orotundity that fires on all pistons thus showing how the tiniest of details in a band can be enough to make you a hardcore fan or a diehard deserter. For all my efforts ULCERATE has been the latter until this release reversed that course.

Hovering around the same hour’s playing time as the band’s previous efforts (save the debut), STARE INTO DEATH AND BE STILL finds the band maturing in a way that allows the sum of the parts to see a much bigger picture and how one musical methodology was tweaked to allow a much clearer synergy of the cast of caustic characters behind the wheel. At long last, despite my best efforts i can now say i’m in the ULCERATE club with this new album that so very much encapsulates the zeitgeist of the contemporary madness the world collectively experiences in this most surreal of calendar years. ULCERATE trods on like a sober observer of death and destruction delivered through the seasoned musical sounds of the guitar, bass and drums. In a world where this style of murky, atonal tech metal seems to be overplayed, somehow ULCERATE has surprised me and crafted an album that takes the band into higher levels of competence. Nice!

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