tapfret

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389 reviews/ratings
ARSIS - We Are the Nightmare Technical Death Metal
IRON MAIDEN - Powerslave NWoBHM
SLAYER - Reign in Blood Thrash Metal
SPASTIC INK - Ink Compatible Thrash Metal
WATCHTOWER - Control And Resistance Technical Thrash Metal
BLACK SABBATH - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Heavy Metal
DREAM THEATER - Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory Progressive Metal
MESHUGGAH - Destroy Erase Improve Progressive Metal
FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS - Sol Niger Within Avant-garde Metal
RUSH - A Farewell to Kings Hard Rock
KING CRIMSON - Red Proto-Metal
KING CRIMSON - Heavy ConstruKction Non-Metal
EXIVIOUS - Exivious Progressive Metal | review permalink
ALICE COOPER - Billion Dollar Babies Hard Rock
FATES WARNING - Perfect Symmetry Progressive Metal
HAKEN - The Mountain Progressive Metal
JIMI HENDRIX - Are You Experienced? Proto-Metal
MARTYR - Feeding the Abscess Technical Death Metal
MOTORPSYCHO - The Death Defying Unicorn Non-Metal
OPETH - Watershed Progressive Metal

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 102 3.61
2 Heavy Metal 37 2.85
3 Hard Rock 34 3.16
4 Non-Metal 33 3.20
5 Thrash Metal 31 3.48
6 Funk Metal 20 3.40
7 Avant-garde Metal 16 3.94
8 Proto-Metal 16 3.78
9 Technical Death Metal 14 3.86
10 Metal Related 9 3.28
11 Crossover Thrash 9 3.44
12 Industrial Metal 8 3.44
13 Hardcore Punk 7 3.71
14 Technical Thrash Metal 7 3.79
15 Mathcore 6 2.42
16 Death Metal 5 3.60
17 Gothic Metal 5 3.70
18 NWoBHM 5 3.60
19 Speed Metal 4 3.38
20 Groove Metal 3 3.17
21 Melodic Death Metal 3 4.00
22 Melodic Metalcore 2 3.75
23 Alternative Metal 2 4.00
24 Metalcore 2 2.25
25 Symphonic Metal 2 3.50
26 Power Metal 1 2.00
27 Nu Metal 1 2.50
28 Stoner Metal 1 3.00
29 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 1 4.00
30 Deathcore 1 2.00
31 Heavy Alternative Rock 1 3.50
32 Heavy Psych 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

COPROFAGO Unorthodox Creative Criteria

Album · 2005 · Thrash Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
For Fans of: Destroy, Erase, Improve era Meshuggah, Cynic, Martyr

Vocal Style: Cookie Monster

Guitar Style: Broad range of Metal/Rock/Jazz tones. Many Holdsworth style solos over heavy compresed metal grinds

Keyboard Style: Polysynth saw waves with various string and brass patches

Percussion Style: Standard rock kit used with extreme dynamics

Bass Style: Fretless electric ranging from heavy picked to slapped and jazzy walks

Other Instruments: Beautiful string arrangement on Glimpses

Summary: Chile's Coprofago is often accused of being a Meshuggah clone. It is true that much of their sound is remeniscent of Meshuggah, the booming guitars, polyrhythmic drumming, Holdsworth-esque guitar solos, and death Metal vocals. But Coprofago maintains a firm foothold on their jazz roots. Previous work by Coprofago was peppered with jazzy undistorted breaks, but Unorthadox Creative Criteria takes their love of jazz to a new level. In fact, the second half of the album has only two songs that would be even remotely considered metal. It is best to review the album on a song be song basis. Song ratings take into account how the fit in the overall work, not just how the work individually.

1. Crippled Tracker - A staccato blast of polyrhythmic metal, similar to much of what was offered on Genesis, complete with a spacey close and Holdsworth toned guitar solo.(4/5)

2. The Inborn Mechanics - Starts as a thrashing metal piece that morphs into a jazzy bridge with atonal guitar solo and short bass answer. Fades to an ambient mix of metal guitars and synth. (5/5)

3. Neutralized - Intro speed is increased for this number. The strength in this song is in the break. An expansive reverbed out guitar solo gives the song character, but the machine gun style of the main theme is a little hard to enjoy. (3/5)

4. Merge Into - A quiet interlude of guitar synth very much like late 80's Holdsworth (4/5)

5. Fractures - The most uninteresting part of the album. Pretty much a straight forward Death Metal song (2/5)

6. Hostile Silent Raptures - Polyrhythmic grind, much stronger and more interesting than Fractures. Bridge is a talk back part with a funky bass break. Closes with a long resolution guitar solo and synth guitar. (4/5)

7. Streams - Album starts to get really interesting at this point. Difficult song to describe. Electronica elements interspersed with Eric Johnson-esque guitar work. Short chamber string break included. (4.5/5)

8. Isolated through Multiplicity - Very strong instrumental jazz/metal fusion song. Opens with guitar-synth sqare waves backed by double bass. Much of this song sounds like it could have come from Holdsworths Sand. Perhaps the best song on the album. (5/5)

9. Individual Choice - Another smoking jazz piece with a short metal break. Its just a lot of fun to hear these guys go off on this kind of stuff. (5/5)

10. Glimpses - One would think that a band known for playing metal would have a metal song be their most sinister piece, but this song consists entirely of chamber strings and background subteranean ambience. Very evil sounding with absolutely no distorted guitars. Exemplifies the album title to an extreme. (5/5)

11. Constriction - These guys want to beat you silly with contrast. Coming out of Glimpses, we get assaulted with the noisiest part of the album. It works pretty well when taken in context. (3.5/5)

12. Motion - Starts with a simple bass line and almost electronica sound with ambient synth vibes. Resolves into a beautiful instrumental jazz/fusion piece. Some of their best work. (5/5)

13. Wavelength - Interesting piece in that they incorporate the death metal vox into jazz/fusion directly for the first time. Alarming at first, it starts to grow. This song cycles repeatedly through fusion/metal and throws in strings to add to the mix. (4.5/5)

Overall the strong parts of Unorthadox Creative Criteria are extremely strong, the weak parts are short and tolerable. For my part, I consider this a 5 star album. But it is definitely not for everybody. Undoubtedly hated by metal purists. Get Unorthadox Creative Criteria if you: 1. Like stylistic blends. 2. Are tolerant of death metal vocals for the sake of wonderfully creative music.

LAUNDRY Motivator

Album · 1999 · Funk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
It took 5 years for Laundry to follow up their 1994 debut release, Black Tongue, with their second and final album, Motivator. The band's core of Tim "Herb" Alexander, Ian Varriale, and Tom Butler remained. The major difference was the departure of vocalist Toby Hawkins, whose duties were absorbed by "Herb", ultimately to his discontent. Varriale, while not necessarily changing his duties, slightly modified his string tapping stage presence by exchanging his Chapman Stick for a Warr Guitar.

Motivator is a slightly more refined production than Black Tongue. The overall recording has a similar tone but a cleaner mix. Musically, the album is decidedly more accessible than its predecessor. There is a far more pedestrian, groove oriented rhythmic consistency that was not apparent on Black Tongue. Compositionally, it has less complex passages and obscure instrumental interplay. While the overall dark hews of predominantly minor keys remain, there is less of an affinity for atonal passages, whole tones, or dissonance. The combination remains heavy with overdriven guitar sounds, but not crossing the heavy metal distortion barrier. Tim Alexander's vocals are in a higher register and use a significant amount of reverb compared to Toby Hawkins'. While competent and in tune, it is readily apparent that vocals are not his primary function. There is something intangible that makes the vocals less cohesive with the music. Perhaps it is only a listener preference issue. Despite the differences noted, it is readily apparent that this is the same band 5 years removed.

In general I find Motivator to be a good album, but the less enjoyable of the two. As stated earlier, its just a listener preference issue. And really, I can't identify any unappealing movements within the album, just nothing as outstanding as I found with Black Tongue. The album highlight for me is "So Mean", with its spacey bridge; probably the song with the most dynamic contrast. From a rating standpoint, I would call it a good but not essential 3 stars.

After the supporting tour for Motivator, Laundry would disband. "Herb" would go on to play in many more projects; including The Blue Man Group, A Perfect Circle, and eventually rejoining his old mates with Primus.

LAUNDRY Blacktongue

Album · 1994 · Funk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The 5-10 years around the turn of the millennium was a fantastic time for music fans everywhere. Especially for those that lived in areas that did not have an exceptionally deep music scene and less than optimal music stores. The internet would open the gates to hidden gems that people in those areas had never enjoyed access to up to that point. Not only was the communication flow opening up, but the burgeoning digital compression era had created more accessibility, but also a bit of a ideological war, and people were taking sides. My discovery of the band Laundry had a link to that war and the fact that the band appeared to have chosen a side not popular with the bulk of the music industry. One of my frequent way-too-late nights of internet music discovery in the early- 2000's found me following a thread from the band Primus to drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander's band, Laundry . Their website was complete with full mp3 downloads of both their albums. Thus, I set about the rather enjoyable experience of discovery as I dove into their debut album, Black Tongue.

One of the links that I followed to find Laundry was of course a biography of Herb. I can not recall the precise source so exact quotes are not possible, but I recall comments to the effect that Herb wished to expand beyond the cartoonish elements of Primus (the particular that was mentioned was "Winona's Big Brown Beaver"). It can be said that Black Tongue takes a decidedly darker tone than his previous band's themes from the outset. But as the easiest link to establish, it is almost essential to compare the two bands. Aside from the overall thematic tone of the compositions, differences in the instrumental makeup were also readily apparent. As talented as Les Claypool is, one of the best descriptions of his playing style is "precision mud" (not at all pejorative, I love that sound). The bass sounds used by Laundry's Chapman stick player, Ian Varriale, while not completely dissimilar, strayed from the muddiness with its tap style madness. As Varriale lays the string foundation to the opener, Windshield, another comparison invites itself; Tony Levin era King Crimson. But that comparison begins and ends with the Chapman stick. Guitarist Tom Butler's playing style, if one could imagine the exact middle, lays between the atonal minimalism of Larry Lalonde and the virtuosity of Robert Fripp. It fits the music perfectly, but is definitely in its own zone. Herb's drumming is similarly groove oriented, but with less funky, dare I say, danceability than his more familiar works.

Song highlights are the similarly swirling, spacey, psychosis inducing "Monarch Man" and "Canvas". Near the end is a piece called "19", that includes answering machine spoken word self deprecating diatribe with underlying stick work that is mildly reminiscent of King Crimson's "Indiscipline". Overall, there are really no bad songs on this album.

Of the two albums released by Laundry, the more interesting and deep is Black Tongue. As previously mentioned, the overall color of the music is dark, but never with a traditional metal heaviness. The songs alternate from driving beats to seemingly backwards slithering of delirium laced passages. While one might argue it is certainly not as tight as 1999's Motivator, it makes up for it in adventurousness. Black Tongue would definitely not be the choice for the passive listener and passes the prog litmus test more resolutely. And it easily accomplished Tim "Herb" Alexander's goal of distancing himself from comic overtones. Not a masterpiece, but a highly enjoyable, recommended listen.

MESHUGGAH Catch Thirtythree

Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
From the "wall of sound" section of my collection comes Swedish metal kingpins, Meshuggah, with their fifth full length LP-CD and first attempt at a concept album, Catch-33. Released approximately 3 years after the less than enjoyable LP Nothing, the shift in album structure to a continuous piece on Catch-33 was prefaced a year earlier with the EP I, not only in its compositional presentation, but also in its lyrical theme. I may be completely off base as the lyrics contain enough metaphoric ambiguity, and there is a significant amount of interpretative discussion to be found on the internet about Catch- 33, that the concept of I appear to be expanding on the concept of self, inner struggles/paradoxes and pitfalls of defining self in reflection of others. To a lesser extent, one might even look at Catch-33 as a microcosmic extension of the concepts used in guitarist Fredrik Thordendal's Sol Niger Within. The ideas expressed in these thick metaphors are abundant with images of self being the primary perpetrator of psychological torture, even in the chemically stable mind. The summation of ideas seems to be presented early on in the album in one of its most recognizable lines, "The struggle to free myself from restraint, becomes my very shackles". Many of these ideas are expressed in the basic ubiquitous teachings of Zen philosophy and the core tenets of Buddhism. From a delivery standpoint, it is understandable that many may feel the ideas and depth of concept are lost in the profoundly distorted and incomprehensible screaming vocals of Jens Kidman. But in the case of Catch-33, there is a dichotomy in that loss of understanding by the listener is the representation of what is conveyed by that soft inner voice that speaks in paradoxes and generates the internal torment of confusion and loss of self. Instrumentally the band uses 8-string guitars for an extremely thick bottom end. The processing of the guitar sound is peculiar in that even during the most distorted sections the lowest guitar sound less like the distortion of amplification overdrive and more like two metal pieces (wire/fret) vibrating against each other. This creates unconventional accents in the rhythmic patterns that are mimicced frequently today, but were very unique at the time of this release. Thordendal's typical Holdsworthian soloing style is used primarily as a texturing tool throughout the album. A particularly unusual aspect of this album is that Tomas Haake's drum tracks are actually programmed rather than recorded. Haake explains that this occured in the writing process, the programming was used for laying down the guitar tracks and the band as a whole decided the samples "sounded really good" and just went with it. Interestingly, they did perform some of the Catch-33 material live with Haake playing. Catch-33 is separated into tracks for indexing purposes, but is presented as a single composition with different movements that seem irrespective of the track assignments. The composition displays a great deal more dynamic contrast than previous work. And while the use of "quiet" parts are nothing new to a Meshuggah album, they are never quite as extended as they are delivered on Catch-33. Nor are they ever delivered with as much of an avant-garde musical approach. Previous songs like Unanything, Acrid Placidity had a more generic "this is the mellow song on the metal album" feel to them. Even later, The Last Vigil, approached the use of undistorted strings in a similar vein, but did not come close in the complexity of musical idea. The sections of particular note I am speaking of are at the end of the tracks In Death...Is Death and Sum. There are a couple shorter undistorted sections, but these are the two longest. Each has intertwining guitar patterns and both contain some of the eeriest, most sinister sounding passages in the body of Meshuggah's work. I should hope that Thordendal and Mårten Hagström will employ more of this approach or even explore a separate project in the future. There is something truly majestic about that style. And even the percussive portions of the music display a depth of musical understanding that exceeds that of bands considered in the same paradigm. From the rhythmic structures that use multiple time signatures simultaneously, to use of jazzy dodecaphonics (12-tone), Meshuggah was, and continue to be unbound by expectation. When taking into account Meshuggah's body of work I find Catch-33 at the forefront of my appreciation for its unconventionality, diversity, and thoughtfulness. It is held from the regard of masterpiece outside of the metal world simply by the vocals. And as I stated previously, there is a fundamental value to that style in the story.I believe that the listener who is up for a challenge will find a very deep and rewarding experience in the intricacies and complex build of this mammoth construction. 4.5 stars.

EXIVIOUS Exivious

Album · 2009 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Fusion metal pinnacle Sub-genre: Progressive Metal For Fans of: Canvas Solaris, Allan Holdsworth, Return to Forever, Gordian Knot Vocal Style: None Guitar Style: Varied electric. Metal distortion but little in the way of "chugging". Use of swells for texture and plenty of clean tone. Keyboard Style: None that I am aware of. Percussion Style: Rock kit, occasional metal double-bass sound, never overbearing. Bass Style: Very tasty, warm fretless electric bass. Other Instruments: None You are not likely to enjoy this album if: you insist on vocals or are a genre purist of any sort.

Summary: The roots of Exivious are well documented. It is those roots that draw people to want to hear their self-titled debut album. But there is more - or perhaps less depending on context - to the band than what is implied by their roots. First and foremost is the fact that this is a 100% homegrown, do-it-yourself, self funded project. As we are well into the age that this is not only possible, but becoming the norm, we tend to find a lot of boiler plate production value that seems to limit the creative process. This is not the case with Exivious. While it is not hard to pick out derivative elements in this album, the presentation is wholly their own and finds a healthy niche in a genre that is now flooded with hybridization. The most simplistic description of style/genre would be fusion metal. I refrain from using the J word for fear of a purist attack, but jazz elements resound throughout the compositional structures, chord modulations and use of broad dynamics and textures. An instant injection of warmth of tone is provided by the use of fretless bass. The guitars, while unmistakably distorted at most times, are never content to ride power chords. Instead frequent tonal variations, key modulations and string ensemble-like volume swells provide a strong sense of contrast throughout the album. The use of these tools leaves the project not wonting of vocals. Exivious allows the music to tell the story completely. They use a seemingly simple device in a two-part intermission type song, "All That Surrounds", which ties the albums segments together and provides the cohesiveness of story. The first part gives a calming false resolution major chord sound that is unraveled by the more urgent "Waves of Thought" and "The Path", finally leaving the listener on an ethereal precipice with the minor and whole-tonal "All That surrounds, pt.2". The album again resolves with the upbeat "An Elusive Need". The album rounds out at forty four and a half minutes, a short album by today's standards, but containing not a moment of filler that permeates 21st century recordings. The sense of completeness as the album fades is to often missing in the majority of music in the last 20 years.

Final Score: I spent a good 18 months listening to this album trying to figure out if it was really the masterpiece I thought it was from the first listen. In fact, I am drawn more to this album as time passes. It has the perfect balance leaving the listener simultaneously sated, yet wanting more. No element completely dominates or submits. Tasteful and artistic. 5 stars.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 31 days ago in Colonel Petrov's Good Judgement (Avant-garde)
    Yeah, I suggested them there as ex/post.
  • Posted 32 days ago in Colonel Petrov's Good Judgement (Avant-garde)
    Suggested for Avant-garde Metal, from Koln, Germany,  Colonel Petrov's Good Judgement. First album "Moral Machine" seems to be primarily sludge with the addition of saxophone. The latest "Among Servants" probably would have made my AOTY list last year had it been on PA. Very similar in avant-garge atmosphere to Virus - The Black Flux, with a little more homage to classic 80's underground metal (thrash, with some Neurosis dimemsions) . Tons of unexpected rhythmic devices with these guys.   tapfret2019-11-11 13:59:57
  • Posted 10 months ago in Schizofrantik (Deutschland) for Progr or Avant met
    ^[QUOTE=siLLy puPPy] ^ cool. Hypnotoad, if you are familiar with this band, are they like 50% metal? We can always add under Metal Related. I'll listen to some more later when i have time.[/QUOTE] Let's put it this way: somebody put them in as a suggestion to the PA eclectic team about 18 months ago and I voted move to Progmetal on first listen. As it turns out to our embarrassment it had already been added to eclectic. So I feel like its around 50% across the albums. Have not listened to Night on the Shark in awhile. I seem to remember it being the least metallic.I do know that my view is somewhat skewed by the early days at PA when a hint of a distorted power chord 35 minutes into an album would get you pigeon holed into a metal sub. tapfret2019-01-31 22:48:21

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