ssmarcus

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Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

8 reviews/ratings
SOUNDGARDEN - Badmotorfinger Alternative Metal | review permalink
JIMI HENDRIX - Axis: Bold As Love Proto-Metal | review permalink
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE - Alive or Just Breathing Melodic Metalcore | review permalink
A PERFECT CIRCLE - Mer de Noms Metal Related | review permalink
DEATH - Human Technical Death Metal | review permalink
ORANSSI PAZUZU - Mestarin kynsi Black Metal | review permalink
JIMI HENDRIX - Are You Experienced? Proto-Metal | review permalink
FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE - Oracles Technical Death Metal | review permalink

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Proto-Metal 2 3.25
2 Technical Death Metal 2 3.00
3 Alternative Metal 1 4.00
4 Black Metal 1 3.00
5 Melodic Metalcore 1 4.00
6 Metal Related 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

ORANSSI PAZUZU Mestarin kynsi

Album · 2020 · Black Metal
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Full disclosure: I listened to this album genuinely wanting to hate it. Count me as one of those people who barely considers experimental atmospheric black metal as music. But regardless of how you might feel about black metal or the various kinds of atmospheric post-rock sub genres out there today, there is still something irresistible about this record. Every song on this record is a clinic on how to skillfully layer music and build tension. And unlike so much of the music in this sub-genre, the ambience actually contains discernible melodious musical ideas.

However, the tragedy of this record is the insufferable and suffocating black metal vocals. Time after time, vocalist Ontto insists on interrupting the band’s groove with the most grating black metal vocals you’ve ever heard (outside of the lo-fi traditional black metal). It’s not that harsh vocals wouldn’t work with this music at all, it’s the specific style, timing, and perhaps mixing of them that is so off-putting.

Oranssi Pazuzu are clearly an exceptional and envelope shattering group. And while they certainly don’t owe it to anyone to change or adapt their sound in anyway, I genuinely regret that their vocal choices are going to deprive a larger audience of hearing what actually makes this band so exceptional.

FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE Oracles

Album · 2009 · Technical Death Metal
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Given the reputation these Italian technical and symphonic death metal heavyweights, I was somewhat disappointed by this record in two respects. Firstly, the symphonic elements are used sparingly merely as detours or transitional pieces between the brutal death metal passages that comprise most of the album. These transitions into and from the symphonic passages almost always feel forced and jarring. While jarring the listener in this way is a valid technique in the way jump scares in horror are, its overuse signals laziness and gets boring real quick.

Secondly, the production strongly favors the drums. No doubt that session drummer Mauro Mercurio’s performance here is impressive. But being mixed front and center, it totally muddles out the finer contours and textures of the riffs making very difficult and, at times, even impossible to really appreciate what the guitars are doing. And when it comes to technical death metal, this an essential component of the listening experience.

With all that said, this is still an overall enjoyable record for fans of the genre. The playing is tight, the lyrics are effective, the brutality is immersive, and the symphonic sections are, when taken by themselves, enjoyable.

DEATH Human

Album · 1991 · Technical Death Metal
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Here’s a (not so very) hot take: early Florida-based death metal is just thrash metal turnT up to 11. By the start of the 90’s, legacy thrash metal groups had matured their sound and songwriting, with records like Master of Puppets and Rust in Peace showcasing just how dynamic and colorful thrash metal could be. Even the mighty Slayer tempered their speed and fury on South of Heaven for the sake of their songwriting. In contrast, being the musical equivalent of Florida Man, Tampa based extreme metal groups instead doubled down on the speed, dissonance, and violent lyrical content of thrash resulting in music that, while maybe technically impressive in a number of respects, really just didn’t sound that good to anyone not solely interested in how edgy and extreme music could be.

However, Death’s fourth studio album Human definitely strikes me as one of the turning points for death metal songwriting. The music is not merely exaggerated shock value thrash but an expression of a unique, albeit still twisted, approach to melody and rhythm that would not only remain the hallmark of Death’s music going forward but also become the cornerstone of the nascent technical and progressive death metal sub-genres. On a personal level, while I can appreciate much of this record, I still maintain a strong preference for more Iron Maiden inspired melodic or groove-based death metal ala Carcass or Lamb of God respectively. As such, I can really give this album any higher a rating despite its historical importance.

KILLSWITCH ENGAGE Alive or Just Breathing

Album · 2002 · Melodic Metalcore
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What is it about Killswitch Engage and their record Alive or Just Breathing that makes them one of the greatest and most important metalcore and New Wave of American Heavy Metal acts? Put simply, Killswitch is one of, if not the first, metal band to temper metal’s testosterone driven aggression with existential and emotional vulnerability. Their music, like their melodic death metal peers and progenitors in Sweden, is uncompromisingly dark and heavy. And yet, on this record, Killswitch made the bold and, to this day still, controversial choice to add melodious emo/pop-punk sensibilities to their choruses and various other passages in the music.

Metal fans, as a population, are notoriously fond of “gatekeeping” and ensuring that only bands that meet their own subjective standard of authenticity get crowned as proper metal acts. This tension between more purely heavy or classical metal and the emotive metalcore sound was definitely perceived as a major fault line between fans in the mid 2000’s at the height of the New Wave of American and Heavy Metal. And while much of the criticism of metalcore’s emo-like excesses is justified, it is impossible to deny the absolute authenticity of this record. Whether its Jesse Leach’s passionate calls for self reflection or the band’s brutal riffage, this is an album that will hit you as hard as any great metal record from the two decades prior.

Still, I can’t give the album a perfect score. While the first four tracks are metal bliss, the latter half of the record does, at times, merely re-tread material already handled earlier on in the record. Despite this, Alive or Just Breathing is still classic!

JIMI HENDRIX Axis: Bold As Love

Album · 1967 · Proto-Metal
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Songwriting, songwriting, and more songwriting: that is what separates Axis from its predecessor Are You Experienced. On Axis, Jimi seems to actually put thought into the music being committed to tape. And the results are simply revolutionary. Take “Spanish Castle Magic” for instance. The core of this song is still blues-based riffing. But thanks to interesting supplemental chords, syncopated drumming, and a dose of Hendrix magic, the song is a hard rock trip unlike anything heard before.

The record is further bolstered by a legendary rhythm guitar performance by Hendrix. Though usually known for his bombastic soloing, Hendrix’s rhythm guitar work on tracks like “Little Wing,” “Bold as Love, ” and “Castles Made of Sand” is nothing short of masterful.

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