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Peter Skov
MMA Special Collaborator · Proto Team
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 3 months ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

298 reviews/ratings
DEEP PURPLE - Deep Purple In Rock Hard Rock | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Rage For Order Heavy Metal | review permalink
HAKEN - The Mountain Progressive Metal | review permalink
SYMPHONY X - V: The New Mythology Suite Progressive Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Deconstruction Progressive Metal | review permalink
ANVIL - Metal on Metal Heavy Metal | review permalink
NINGEN ISU - Ningen Shikkaku (No Longer Human) Stoner Rock | review permalink
NINGEN ISU - Ougon no Yoake Progressive Metal | review permalink
HÄG - HÄG Doom Metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Now What?! Hard Rock | review permalink
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD - Alien Industrial Metal | review permalink
SÓLSTAFIR - Ótta Metal Related | review permalink
APRIL WINE - Electric Jewels Hard Rock | review permalink
ANVIL - Forged in Fire Heavy Metal | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Synchestra Progressive Metal | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Terria Progressive Metal | review permalink
SYMPHONY X - Iconoclast Progressive Metal | review permalink
OPETH - Ghost Reveries Progressive Metal | review permalink
DEEP PURPLE - Machine Head Hard Rock | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 64 3.52
2 Proto-Metal 42 3.11
3 Progressive Metal 34 4.01
4 Heavy Metal 33 3.98
5 Death Metal 20 3.85
6 Heavy Psych 17 3.44
7 Thrash Metal 17 3.82
8 Technical Death Metal 14 4.11
9 Power Metal 5 4.00
10 Black Metal 5 4.10
11 Doom Metal 4 4.38
12 Melodic Death Metal 4 3.75
13 NWoBHM 4 3.75
14 Sludge Metal 4 4.00
15 Stoner Rock 4 3.75
16 Stoner Metal 3 3.67
17 Industrial Metal 3 3.67
18 Glam Metal 3 3.67
19 Atmospheric Black Metal 3 3.83
20 Avant-garde Metal 3 4.17
21 Alternative Metal 2 3.75
22 Metal Related 2 4.00
23 Technical Thrash Metal 2 4.00
24 Speed Metal 2 3.75
25 US Power Metal 1 3.00
26 Melodic Black Metal 1 4.50
27 Death 'n' Roll 1 4.00
28 Death-Doom Metal 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

NINGEN ISU Kuraku

Album · 2021 · Heavy Metal
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It's been two years and two months since the release of "Shin Seinen", the album that included the song "Mujou no Scat - Heartless Scat" whose promotion on YouTube made heavy music fans around the world go, "Wow! Who are these guys?!" The band had maintained a small following for over two decades before an appearance at Ozz Fest in Japan in 2013 gave them exposure to an international audience. For the next few years, Ningen Isu concentrated on making each of their heavy metal (think 70's inspired traditional doom/stoner metal with a flare for getting a bit thrashy or speedy at times) albums attractive to the foreign market but always maintaining their unique sound and approach to heavy music: they are very much a Japanese band playing western heavy metal. But their 21st album released in 2019 took them to a whole new level of international popularity. This resulted in their first ever trip overseas where they played two shows in Germany and one in England. They were scheduled to appear at the SXSW Festival in Texas in March of 2020, but COVID-19 shut that down.

"Kuraku" ("Suffering and Joy", or "Pain and Comfort" if you believe the Wikipedia translation of the title) is the band's 22nd album and the first new release since their overseas episodes of February, 2020. Fans of the band's last few albums will find that Ningen Isu are ploughing along in the same style. There have been no efforts to adjust their sound for any imagined possibility of broadening their audience, and this is what new fans to the band probably hoped for and expected. (Fans of the band's entire catalogue know that the band has explored different directions but always maintained a heavy base).

The album is 13 tracks and 71 minutes of Ningen Isu-styled heavy metal with lyrical themes such as space pirates ("Uchuu Kaizoku), ghosts ("Nikutai no Bourei"), kings of darkness ("Ankoku Ou"), motorcycles ("Hashire GT"), and robots ("Ningen Robot"). If I understood correctly, the album's concept was based around the vision of the future held by Japanese a hundred years ago. They believed in a utopian society free of hardship and strife. However, Ningen Isu are saying what we may have achieved is the opposite. The album title comes from a 1920's periodical of the same name, which was a magazine that published stories by Edogawa Ranpo, whose story "Ningen Isu - The Human Chair" was where the band took its name.

The opening track begins with an unusual sound for Ningen Isu, a strummed electric guitar that some may think inspired by Led Zeppelin but I hear as being similar to The Tea Party, though I am sure Ningen Isu has never heard of that Canadian band. The music soon changes into a typical Ningen Isu heavy rocker and plays out long enough for some change ups to happen in the music. The song title, "Toshishun" is from the title of a short story written by a famous Japanese author, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, who wrote many famous stories from 1914 until his death by suicide in 1927. This song, written and sung by Shinji Wajima, exemplifies Ningen Isu's ability to write heavy tracks with a slight progressive edge.

Though every track on the album is heavy (Ningen Isu don't do power ballads and have rarely touched acoustic only numbers), there are a few worth mentioning for their outstanding or unusual points. "Uchuu Kaizoku" has a guitar effects intro and features a Theremin in the solo section. Shinji Wajima has used a Theremin on several songs in the past, always space-themed ones. "Seikimatsu Jinta (End of the Century Jinta)" has a really groovy riff that sounds like it was pulled straight out of 1976. Wajima plays a bit of Taishogoto - a Japanese instrument based on the koto - on the tracks "Seikimatsu Jinta" and "Nayami wo Tsukinekete, Kanki wo Idare (Overcome Your Worries and Be Joyous)". "Koukotsu no Tourou (Ecstatic Mantis)" is the shortest track and one of Ken'ichi Suzuki's short but speedy and aggressive tracks. "Shijou no Kuchibiru" features drummer Nobu Nakajima on lead vocals. And the closing track, "Yoake Mae (Before the Dawn)" is one of those longer, dark and heavy tracks that Ningen Isu like to do.

The album is what you'd expect from Ningen Isu: heavy stoner, doom, and trad metal riffs, and a good mix of themes and approaches, plus a their unique sound cultivated over three decades. What the album doesn't include are any experiments with new sounds or directions or revisiting any of the one-track diversions of the past. I personally like a surprise or two on an album, and among my favourites are the albums where the band dropped in either something very progressive or something inspired by traditional Japanese music. "Kuraku" is a solid, heavy banger from start to finish.

So, once again, fans who love the last few albums will be just as thrilled to hear this one. Ningen Isu are veterans of what they play and don't make any mistakes. They know who they are and how they should sound. Once again, they have achieved that flawlessly.

TOO MUCH Too Much

Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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Wow! I did a search for this band twice on this site and got nothing. I created a page for them, wrote a bio, and then found there was a page already somewhere. Searched again and it came up right away. Go figure!

So, anyway, here we have a band from Japan lead by their guitarist with aspirations for playing loud, heavy music in the vein of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and then got told by their record label to add some ballads and a cover song in hopes of broadening their potential audience. The result? The band split up!

Let's see. What do we have here then. The first track, "Grease It Out" certainly shows the band's desire to play loud and heavy. While Black Sabbath influence is likely there, the riffs sound closer to their compatriots Flower Travelin' Band although vocalist Juni Lush (credited as Joko Lush in my CD copy) has more of a hard rock voice. It's a pretty killer track for some straight forward hard/heavy rock of 1971.

"Love That Binds Me" is a mid-tempo, blues-based, bummed out dude song that includes piano. It is very clearly a song heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Lovin' You", most obviously in the lyric "Yes, I'm working everyday from early in the morning, babe / Til late at night everyday / It's such a drag, baby". On its own, I'd say the song would be pretty good, but the derivative lyrics just shout "copy cat!" and I'm afraid it loses points for that.

Thankfully, the next track is "Love Is You", another heavy rock track with some cool riffs and mood. One thing is for sure, guitarist Tsutomu Ogawa is pretty good at coming up with heavy rock riffs!

Alright, "Reminiscence" is next and it begins like a classic Vanilla Fudge song with organ and hard guitars, then shifts into a slower gear with acoustic guitar and electric lead. This is out first real slow and sentimental track. I'd say it could have worked out alright except that Lush's vocals are not very lush. He sounds like quieting down makes it harder for him to hit the notes right. For that, there are a few flinching moments.

And now the cover of "I Shall Be Released", which is missing the final "d" in the official track listing. This is country western folk ballad and a pretty good effort for a Japanese band. However, it sounds off and totally unnecessary for the album. Sure, lots of bands had to have that one track that showed their "other side" back in the day, but as this is a cover I think there are other bands who could have done a better job and this band could likely have written a better song for them to play and record.

"Gonna Take You" sets us back on course with another heavy rocker, and that's three pretty cool heavies out of the first six tracks. The lyrics however once again show the band borrowing from their overseas influences and they sound like they just cut and pasted lyrics from a Led Zeppelin song (which the mighty Zep actually took from someone else). "I'm gonna bring it on home to you / I got my ticket, I got that load / Gone up, go higher, all aboard / Take my seat a-right way back / Watch this train goin' down the track". It seems that even though the band is capable of creating some pretty good rockin' music, there's a problem with lyric writing and sometimes I think with the vocal delivery. Fortunately, the lead guitar parts get a fair bit of emphasis and run time in the songs.

And so we reach the 12:12 epic ballad, "Song for My lady (Now I Found)" with acoustic guitar, flute, strings, the works! It reminds me a little like a cross between Deep Purple's "April" from their self-titled third album and The Moody Blues. And here is where I feel like the lyrics are similar to early Scorpions' lyrics. Alright, you are writing a ballad in a second language and trying to make it meaningful and also flow with the rhythm of the music. But something is just missing for English ears. Perhaps it worked for Japanese audiences of the early seventies. I don't know. Again, the music is actually pretty good. I'm alright with the progressive nature of this longer track and in fact it has more musically advanced than much of what we heard up to here. My main beef is the efforts of Juni Lush to try to imitate western singers instead of developing his own style more. Here he sounds like a fan of Rod Evans.

To wrap it up, this is a band that probably could have made a much better second album but they were discouraged early on and left us with this one slab of vinyl. There are some good heavy tracks and some half decent other music. Just for my money, more work was needed on the lyrics.

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT The Symbol Remains

Album · 2020 · Hard Rock
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So here we have a classic band of the seventies whose fortunes declined in the eighties, who were in disarray throughout most of the nineties, tried to get back in gear in at the turn of the century and who then carried on mostly as a classic rock band playing their classic tunes. Then after 19 years of silence from the recording studio, Blue Oyster Cult drop a new release. The title, "The Symbol Remains" seems less like a victory shout and more like confident statement made through weathered and grim lips with a knife edge of a smile. "It's 2020. BOC is still here."

I was curious. I had never been a huge fan, but my musical travels brought me to BOC Base on a few occasions, allowing one or two more albums to nestle into my collection. My recent reacquaintance with the much-derided "Club Ninja" exposed me to the new album's cover. Somehow, I felt it had to be good.

Of the original line-up, only the two guitarists and principal singers, Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom remain. That's something important though as what defines a band's sound is mostly in the vocals and lead instruments, as well as the songwriting. And to my delight, I feel that this is very much a Blue Oyster Cult album!

The band's familiar heavy side opens the album with "That Was Me", a song that I thought was a reflection back on a "career of evil". At this age, I think this song is very suitable and it is executed in the familiar style of Blue Oyster Cult.

The next two, "Box In My Head" (about his brain), and "Tainted Blood" (a vampire song) continue that familiar sound and style. Obviously, the two legendary members are that much older and the sounds of the instruments and recording is very modern, but they deliver songs worthy of the legendary band name.

I'll confess, though, that partway through the album, it begins to sound more like a generic old dudes' rock album. While at the start I felt it was without a doubt a BOC album, by the middle I thought had I heard this without knowing who it was, I don't think I would have even suspected that I knew what band it was.

Fortunately, once we reach "Stand and Fight" we know who put out this platter. It is actually a heavy tune, perhaps in the sense of classic heavy metal of the seventies but again with a modern sound. "Florida Man" is pretty good, but "The Alchemist" is totally a Blue Oyster Cult track with the heavy guitars, some piano, and an epic tale of fantasy and a quest. Had the album ended here (and I expected that it would as I was listening while walking and not looking at the track list), I would have applauded the band.

However, there is yet another track, and another, and another. It became a game to guess if I had heard the final track yet. I would think, "Now there's a great conclusion to a song and a great way to finish up the album." But then another track would begin. Not that the last five tracks were bad or dull. There are still some very good ones there and some even better than those in the middle of the album where I was wondering if I would recognize the band. I suppose after 19 years, the band had enough material for a 60-minute album. But I personally feel the album could have been more cohesive and more like a BOC album if some of the songs - three or four - had been relegated to CD/download bonus tracks that were separate from the rest of the songs.

My impression is that Blue Oyster Cult have released a surprisingly good album for a mature band. They keep the BOC flame burning for us with songs that both musically and lyrically are congruent with the classic sound of the band.

Any disappointments would be in two or three tracks that could have been either left off or come after the main album track list. I think the album would have had more of a wow impact at somewhere around 10 or 11 tracks.

Overall though, it's a solid release!

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT Club Ninja

Album · 1985 · Hard Rock
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Blue Oyster Cult were on the top of their game in the early eighties. They’d scored a huge hit with “Burnin’ for You”, they had contributed to the soundtrack of the animated film, “Heavy Metal”, and they’d been touring with Black Sabbath. Unfortunately, things would start sliding for the band. Drummer Albert Bouchard was fired, seeing the first change in the classic and long-running line-up. Then came the disappointing sales of 1983’s “The Revolution by Night”, which failed to reach gold. By the time the band was ready to record their tenth studio album, keyboard player Allen Lanier also parted ways with the band. Former manager, Sandy Pearlman was called in, perhaps in hopes of restoring something from the band’s classic days.

As the band had done in the past, outside songwriters were contacted to write some of the lyrics, and one song, “White Flags” was a cover song from the Canadian Leggatt Brothers 1981 album. Pearlman was very meticulous about the sound he wanted from the band and some of the eighties pop sounding percussion and synthesizers were at his insistence.

“Club Ninja” was for many a big disappointment, even though the song “Dancing in the Ruins” became a minor charting hit. The road of fortune from here on would lead to the band losing bassist Joe Bouchard, the confusing “Imaginos” album that was not meant to be a BOC album, the band being released from CBS, and ultimately, Blue Oyster Cult spending most of the nineties without releasing any new material.

“Club Ninja” was my second BOC purchase after “The Revolution by Night”, so you could say that my introduction to the band was through two of their lowest rated and ranked albums. At the time of the release of “Club Ninja”, I was getting into more extreme heavy metal all the while balancing my musical taste with more melodic glam metal and hard rock. “Club Ninja” surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. There were the hard rocking and heavy guitars but there were also bright, eighties pop synth sounds which I still cringe at to this day. There was dramatic music with really catchy vocal melodies but there were also electronic drums which I have never cared for much. Did I like the album?

I found certain songs intriguing as they offered something new or at least rare in my cassette collection. That jangly eighties guitar sound I didn’t like actually sounded pretty good on “Perfect Water”, and in spite of the keyboard sounds, I felt the song drawing me back for repeated listens, eventually becoming one of my favourite tracks on the album. It had a mysterious and also beautifully serene atmosphere to it. Not one band in my music collection had a song like this.

Then there was “White Flags”. A song packed with tension and spots of release sometimes simply through a keyboard effect but more so with the break into the chorus. One of my favourite parts was the organ bit that follows the, “Take me away! Yeeeaaahhh!” part. When I finally heard the original version recorded by the Leggatt Brothers, I was disappointed that there was no organ part.

“Shadow Warrior” was a wonderfully ominous and dark track with lyrical imagery typical of the band’s works – a kind of future, science fiction / fantasy tale. And “Madness to the Method” had this dynamiic piano solo in the song’s dramatic conclusion. “Spy in the House of Night” also was not my usual cup of tea but somehow strangely attracted my ears. In fact, the only songs that I thought were a little silly were “Make Rock Not War” and “Beat ‘Em Up”, mostly for their atrocious meathead rock band-sounding titles. Musically, they were actually not so bad except for the keyboard sounds.

I finally bought this album on CD and listened to it for the first time in about 30 years. I was surprised how much I remembered of the songs. I must have listened to this album more than I thought because I felt like I was listening to an old classic or an old favourite. True, I still flinch at some keyboards parts and “Beat ‘Em Up” is still a goofy title. But I found that I actually really like this album! In fact, I think one of the things I appreciate about it now more than before is the prog element. In the mid-eighites, prog was carefully concealed beneath the pop flash of former prog kings or in the more complex music of some metal bands. “Club Ninja” on the other hand grasps hard and heavy rock, pop sounds and melodies, classic rock, and progressive flare (heavy organ and dramatic piano solos plus seven-minute songs with sci-fi and fantasy concepts) and sets them all out on the table. The album was costly to produce and took nearly a year to put together under the strict guidance of visionary Sandy Pearlman. In the end, the results were probably more baffling to most people who couldn’t make sense of what the band was trying to do. My opinion is that Blue Oyster Cult created an album of intelligent lyrical content, music of atmosphere, drama, energy, and dark and light, and many modern sounds that captured both the light, popular side and the harder-edged rock side.

Having this album back again, I appreciate it even more now after decades of exploring heavy and progressive music much, much further. For fans of heavy music, this album cannot be said to be an excellent addition to any heavy metal collection. It’s really a matter of preference in this case. I give it four and a half stars out of my own taste, but for this site, I’ll give it three.

BOREALIS Fall From Grace

Album · 2011 · Power Metal
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The sticker on the shrink wrap said "for fans of Kamelot, Evergrey..." and one more band. My impression is that this sounds like classic Symphony X meets Evergrey. According to a couple of reviews I read, this album is the midpoint of Borealis's transition from a power metal band to a progressive metal one.

Vocalist Matt Marinelli really does sound an awful lot like Tom S. Englund of Evergrey. The guitar sound is full, the bass adds appropriate weight, synthesizer is used as a support rhythm instrument or to give a symphonic feeling. The songs don't strike me as being too overly from the power metal fold and more - really more! - like Evergrey, though I have only one Evergrey album.

The music here is really solid, melodic heavy metal. There are some speedy or heavy riffs but contrasted with the symphonic sounds of the synthesizer and the strong vocal melodies. The progressive aspect is more in the song structures or playing skill rather than being an overt display of time-signature juggling or technical hocus pocus. I do agree that this is, from a musical and song-writing perspective, a very good album. Like, done by professionals who really know what they want to achieve. The main problem I have is how similar it sounds too Evergrey. I can't help but feel that I'm listening to an Everygrey recording!

Special mention should go to the acoustic track, "Watch the World Collapse", which is a lovely track and a nice diversion from all the heavy numbers. Then there's the bonus track, "The Journey" which is such a perfect wedding song and seriously must have been written as one!

This and the follow-up album, "Purgatory" are Borealis's two highest rated albums, scoring in the nineties on Encyclopedia Metallum. I think it's a solid product but the more I listen, the more I hear Tom S. Englund, and that might be putting me off the album more and more because the singer should be developing his own voice. That and I like Evergrey but don't love the band.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 9 months ago in Hello!
    Hi, MrBlond. Good to see a new face!I came here for the old proto-metal stuff but I've since expanded to nearly right across the board. Recently, I've been adding lots of Canadian bands. What do you think of Chron Goblin or Wizards of Kaos? Both are stoner bands.
  • Posted 1 year ago in R.I.P. Lee Kerslake
    I opened YouTube the other day and saw a video of Lee playing Crazy Train with some young dude on guitar. Lee was so fat that I said to the video, "Dude, for god's sake, lose some weight. This will kill you!" I then checked Wikipedia to see what he was doing these days and the entry read (...- September 19, 2020). Well, it was cancer not a heart attack. Funny thing, I didn't hear anything about his passing in any of the music groups on Facebook that I follow. Had it not been for that video, I'd have been surprised to find this notification here.
  • Posted 1 year ago in Martin Birch dies
    What a legacy he left behind though. I remember seeing and reading his name a lot in the eighties. He's part of metal music history! Thanks for all the great productions, sir. Play it loud and heavy in the next world!

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