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Peter Skov
MMA Special Collaborator · Proto-Metal and Hard Rock teams
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 22 days ago

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219 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
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
GORGUTS - Colored Sands Technical Death Metal | review permalink
SWORD - Metalized Heavy Metal | review permalink
SACRIFICE - The Ones I Condemn Thrash Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 51 3.54
2 Proto-Metal 45 3.04
3 Progressive Metal 27 3.96
4 Heavy Metal 20 3.88
5 Death Metal 18 3.86
6 Thrash Metal 11 3.86
7 Technical Death Metal 10 4.10
8 Heavy Psych 8 3.50
9 Glam Metal 5 3.70
10 Industrial Metal 3 3.67
11 Black Metal 3 3.83
12 Alternative Metal 2 3.75
13 Avant-garde Metal 2 4.25
14 Doom Metal 2 4.00
15 Melodic Death Metal 2 4.00
16 NWoBHM 2 3.50
17 Sludge Metal 1 4.00
18 Stoner Metal 1 3.50
19 Metal Related 1 4.50
20 Non-Metal 1 3.50
21 Death-Doom Metal 1 3.50
22 Atmospheric Black Metal 1 3.00
23 Death 'n' Roll 1 4.00
24 Technical Thrash Metal 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

FABULAE DRAMATIS Solar Time's Fables

Album · 2017 · Avant-garde Metal
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Fabulae Dramatis are a multi-national, Belgium-based avant-garde/progressive metal band formed in 2011. Their theme is story-telling through lyrics the myths and and beliefs of world cultures. Fabulae Dramatis was founded by Colombian-born Isabel Restropo when she recruited Hamlet of Transport Aerian and Colombian-born guitarist Daniel Dias to work on some material she had originally written while performing in a metal band in Honduras. Along with a host of guests, they released their debut album "Om" in 2012. Five years later, with a six-piece band in place, the sophomore album "Solar Time's Fables" was released.

With a bigger budget and two producers, the sound of the new album was seen as improved over the first. In my opinion, the album's sound quality is terrific. In fact, such quality is necessary to capture the charm of Fabulae Dramatis' music. Metal at heart, the band explore well beyond the traditional confines of a metal album by incorporating various instruments such as sitar, harmonium, saxophone, and djembe. But that's only part of what makes the band's songs and music special. On this album, there are four lead vocalists: Wesley Beernaert (growls and clean vocals), Isabel Restropo (classical/operatic vocals), Isadora Cortina (classical/operatic vocals and harsh vocals), and Hamlet (clean and harsh vocals). With each vocalist providing two different vocal styles, the songs benefit with a variety of voices and vocal expression. So, with a triad of diverse vocals, diverse instrumentation, and heavy metal, Fabulae Dramatis have established themselves as a band doing things differently. One could also point out some hints of Hamlet's prog noir style emerging here and there.

The first four tracks, showcase the band's metal side but with their other two talents strongly represented, particularly in the vocals. "Agni's Dynasty (Fire I)" was the first single and has a video on YouTube. For me, these first four tracks are an excellent welcome to the band and brings me back to the growled vocal style that I really got into the previous year. From "Sirius Wind" we take the first of many steps outside of metal. Clean guitar and saxophone are joined by bass and drums and then Isabel's vocals. There's almost a Renaissance (the band) feel to the song yet in an eerie and mysterious tone.

"Coatlicue Serpent Skirt (Earth)" opens with a suggestion of something different yet again but after 55 seconds the guitar leads us into another metal rocker with soaring vocals. Then there's "Nok Terracottas (Mud)", a short but once again haunting track with Isabel's beautiful voice and her whispers, "Sculptured figures talk". The song is a second diversion and although it is short, it is welcomed.

"Forest" is an instrumental track which is soothing and interesting. We get to hear Isabel's sitar playing on here. This is followed by "Roble Para El Corazon (Wood)" with an accordion intro and a kind of southern European serenade that becomes a bit more metal as the song progresses but still the melody of that accordion keeps its place. "Smoke for the Clouds (Anhuiran's Water)" reminds us that the band is very capable of being a melodic death metal band when they are up for it.

The final track "Barren (Gravel)" features some excellent vocals by Hamlet plus a duet by both classically trained women. It is slow, mournful, and powerful.

"Solar Time's Fables" has a terrific balance of metal and exotic sounds. Each song is created with some connection to an old myth or story, and as I mentioned above, having the variety of vocals on this album really adds to the freshness and intrigue. Unfortunately, "Om" is not easy to find on CD, but the download is available. I've been enjoying "Solar Time's Fables" for the last few weeks now and the album continues to captivate me.

SLAUGHTER Strappado

Album · 1987 · Thrash Metal
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To think that a Canadian band had a hand in shaping death metal. Canadian bands rarely prove to be influential in much. It's not because the music isn't good. It's just that Canadian bands tend to get noticed by a few people who really appreciate what they hear and ignored by most other people. But my compatriots have made a mark here and there with Rush and Anvil probably being the most influential in shaping metal. Voivod are just Voivod: unique and inimitable.

Slaughter, originally called Slaughterhouse, are not to be confused with the glam metal band Slaughter. These Canucks were on a mission which was to play really noisy, aggressive music that combined influences from Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Slayer, Venom, and Wendy Williams and the Plasmatics. They admit to not starting out as very good musicians and didn't entertain any lofty goals of becoming famous. Music was for enjoyment and sharing, meant to be heard. They often handed out cassettes at their shows and were all for the free trading of music. They also threw baby doll heads at their shows and blew their noses on the audience. In two interviews I read last night, I learned that they were also close friends with fellow Torontonian thrashers Sacrifice and got on well with the guys in Razor. One claim to fame they have is that Chuck Schuldiner (yes, THE Chuck Schuldiner!) played guitar in the band for a short time in 1986.

"Strappado" was recorded in 1986 and finally released in 1987. The CD reissue I picked up includes the entire album plus additional bonus tracks of unedited album material and outtakes. The sound quality of the album proper is as you might expect for an extreme metal band without big money backing their recording: it is pretty brutish and unclean, but that also suits the music very well. Really very well! The intent behind the music is exactly what the members admit to: that they were making extreme aggressive noise. The guitars are as dirty and ungraceful as a dung-smeared troll armory being tested as Gargantua's chainsaw teeth; the bass is in the mix somewhere; and the drums conjure up every image of a Goblin metal foundry whose machine press is in dire need of re-calibration. At one point, the drum mixing is so over-the-top that instead of sounding like solid snare hits with spaces in between, the spaces seem to be filled with the sound of compressed air swelling up like the rebound wave that comes up after you punch a waterbed.

The bonus tracks are even muddier but honestly don't sound any worse than some early death metal eps, and I'm of the impression that the bonus tracks are on par with early material by Dismember or Entombed. The vocals are suitably gruff and motorcycle gang member growly. Forget the blowing noses as you'd have been as likely to be showered in phlegm and spittle at one of Slaughter's shows.

A lot of Canadian bands have a certain unique charm about them. The members of Rush are nice and funny guys writing intelligent music; Helix has that night-of-the-hockey-game party rock sound; Anvil, the hardworking under-rated metal flag bearers. Slaughter was just about brashness, brutishness, and unclassy violent noise. And having fun doing it! Why did they quit so soon? The music industry tried to take all the fun out. And according to the interviews I read, they are not likely to come back either. Then again, those were old interviews.

Is this good "music"? I don't think so. The riffs are simple and almost cliche, the drumming way in the lack of interesting fills, the songs with every shred of melody hacksawed off. Does it achieve its goal? Oh, yeah! As an old high school friend of mine once said about some of my musical preferences, "This makes as much noise as an explosion with a back beat".

THIN LIZZY Jailbreak

Album · 1976 · Hard Rock
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I’ve never been a Thin Lizzy fan, and that may be surprising given my deep interest in seventies hard rock and metal. The song that was always on the radio was “The Boys Are Back in Town”, which for me was just another one of those classic rock songs that was played so many times that I became desensitized to it and basically ignored it. Classic rock radio tends to have that effect on music: it plays the same songs day in day out until they become as familiar and unnoticeable as the wallpaper in the staffroom at work. I can’t think of any other Thin Lizzy songs I might have known. But it’s often the case that I’ll become interested in a band, buy a couple of albums and discover that I’ve already heard a song or two countless times, I just didn’t know whose song it was.

The reason why I finally felt inclined to buy a Thin Lizzy album is thanks to 1977. I was listening to Judas Priest’s 1977 album “Sin After Sin” and began pondering the state of heavy metal in that year. It was just the first rumblings of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and “heavy metal” as it was known in 1977 included mostly bands that we classify easily as hard rock today. So, as I checked out the year 1977 for hard rock and metal, I came to Thin Lizzy’s “Bad Reputation” but found the album to have too much non-hard stuff. “Jailbreak” sounded like it could be a little edgier.

Thin Lizzy is a band that I call “metal by association”. The band is often included in hard rock and heavy rock lists because of songs like “The Boys Are Back in Town” or “Jailbreak”. They are solid hard rockers with good riffs and cool solos. But Thin Lizzy didn’t start out very hard and if they even became a full-fledged hard rock outfit, I don’t know. What we have here is a typical hard rock album of the seventies, and that is one which includes a good balance of hard rock numbers and non-hard numbers. To be fair, the whole album is very well done. As an album to represent the band, my conclusion is that this is a prime example of what to expect. They even get close to a metal vibe in the darker and heavier tracks of “Warriors” and “Emerald”. “Running Back” has a simple hook but is quite catchy and easy to have running in your head, while “Romeo and the Lonely Girl” has a memorable and melodic chorus. “Cowboy Song” is mentioned in the liner notes as the style of song that appealed to rock and rollers who lead a lonely life on the road and inspired the concept of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”. I personally find this cowboy theme uninteresting and too obvious. It’s the one track I am tempted to skip when it comes on.

The remaster of this 1976 classic sounds great. The music is warm and clear, punches when it needs to, but doesn’t get over loud. Some remasters have all the levels pumped up and they sound like nothing you’d ever hear in the seventies while others keep everything flat. The turn-off point for me is that this album sounds very safe. The riffs and melodies are simple and repetitive. The four-piece band don’t challenge themselves beyond making a good album of hard rock riffs and catchy melodies. There’s no pushing of boundaries or envelopes, no going out on limbs, no daring attempts, no cunning stunts. It’s a very safe album that seems set to appeal to the lowest common denominator. As such, it’s an album to listen to when you need a break from ground-breaking, years-ahead-of-its-time, lost gem-type albums that strived to reach new territory or blow up old institutions. Nice, warm, comfortable rock and roll, this is.

SUPERNAUT Supernaut

Album · 1999 · Proto-Metal
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Today I am going to do two things for the first time. One is that I am going to review an album entirely from listening to it on YouTube and the other is that I am going to rate an album below 2 stars.

But first, a little about Supernaut. An English band formed in 1973, they were, as you can guess by the name, Black Sabbath fans and like their mentors, played music with heavy and dark-sounding riffs. Unlike Sabbath, however, they included a spacey keyboard in their compositions. The band cut a single self-titled album of seven tracks in 1974 which was later released on CD.

Searching about the Net, there is little more information, though one site includes some info from the CD booklet which states that the band recorded a demo (the album) and had Vertigo's interest. The label said they were too heavy and requested Supernaut to record some Eagles covers to which the band obliged but were "so disgusted" that they split up. There seems to be some question as to whether this was a real band and is cautiously considered fictitious on another metal site.

Listening to the album there are two things that you will notice immediately. The riffs are really doom heavy and the guitar playing sounds really amateur. Honestly, the first time I clicked the play icon, I was immediately transported to my 17-year-old self with my Anjo electric guitar, sitting in my bedroom with a Boss distortion pedal plugged into a small, inexpensive amp and cranking out a riff that I thought sounded cool but couldn't do anything with. And this is the one very huge drawback to the album: the guitar playing sounds really amateur. Unfortunately, most of the tracks are introduced by the guitarist indeterminably hammering out his riffs on his very cheap and poorly sounding equipment. Once the drums and bass are in and the keyboards (surprising they are at first) start playing, the guitar playing slips into the flow of the music a little better and the recordings are passable as early demos of a young band. The vocals, sparse as they are, don't sound any better than the guitar.

This is available as a CD still now and I listened to this on YouTube because I was at first interested in an early doom band from 1974 and had an eye on the disc. I am glad I decided to listen first though and saved my money. In comparison, the early recordings by Iron Claw, which have a pretty shoddy production and don't sound so good and don't have the ideal vocalist, at least have a better sense of composition and playing. Perhaps it's because Iron Claw used to play Black Sabbath's debut album in its entirety at their live shows. Also worthy to consider in comparison is Necromandus, who were actually taking under Toni Iommi's management and who played excellent progressive, early doom but were abandoned after recording their album as their manager went overseas to tour in America.

I think Supernaut needed to have a guitarist who could play a little more fluidly and professionally, a better recorded guitar sound, and a proper producer in the studio to help them flesh out their style more. The actual riffs are somewhat promising and the music indicates that the band had a vision and potential but in the end lacked what they needed to make their album sound good. They get points for effort and could possibly have been a great early doom metal band. Instead, we are left with an album that is almost painful to listen to at times and has attracted criticism and scorn in the YouTube comments and no praise.

Not to be confused with the 1974 release by the Perth, Australia glam rock band by the same name.

BATHORY The Return......

Album · 1985 · Black Metal
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Ah, Bathory! The Return.... Is that a double epsilon? I remember that day, that exciting day of going downtown with my paper route tip money and heading straight to the metal section of the music store, searching for something new to discover. And there amidst all the album covers of skulls, musclebound barbarians, acts of violence and blood, and Siamese twins tearing apart, was a simple cover of a gibbous moon shining through a gap in the clouds, a scene I had easily observed many times in my life. What kind of album would this be? I snatched it up!

Ah, Bathory! Some 32 years later and I finally decided to delve into black metal and see what there might be to captivate my constant craving for more diversity in my music collection. I brought home Immortal and thought, “The vocals really sound a lot like Quorthon of Bathory.” I brought home Darkthrone and Enslaved and thought the same. I checked out Emperor, Marduk, Gorgoroth, Satyricon, and more and each time I was reminded of Bathory. It soon dawned on me that if there was one band that inspired the sound of the second wave of black metal, it had to be Bathory.

You’ll find out very quickly that this is true when you watch any documentaries on YouTube or read anything about the development of the black metal scene. Bathory’s debut album and especially “Under the Sign of the Black Mark”, the third album, are frequently cited as the most highly influential albums in the developing black metal scene. The dark, distorted guitars and sinister riffs, the low production quality, and the back-of-the-throat, angry-burning-witch vocal style set the parameters of the black metal to come. For a riff-lover like me, “Born for Burning” had the most dread-inspiring and powerful guitar riff to make it to my cassette collection yet back in 1985, and songs like “Total Destruction”, “Sadist”, and “The Rite of Darkness / Reap of Evil” affirmed my love for this album.

On the plus side, I found the tracks I had forgotten, like “The Wind of Mayhem” and “Son of the Dammed” were at least worth hearing again, while the intro, “Revelation of Doom”, which once conjured up images of a demon in destructive rage approaching from afar, now sounds more like a giant baby crying for its formula bottle. Or is that a mammoth, Satanic tit?

Listening to this album now after at least three decades, I am reminded how the drumming mostly just keeps the beat and how there are few fills, though when one does come in, it sure feels effective. I also recall reading one single review of the album ever and the author saying that the band had an agile bassist. However, I am not hearing that bass so well. But perhaps it doesn’t matter. The real stars of the show are Quorthon’s original vocals, the heavy assault guitars, and the fuzzy production. This album impressed me much more than the debut and “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” actually turned me off the band. No one ever seems to talk about “The Return......” but for me this was/is an essential album in the tale of black metal and extreme metal in the eighties. Quorthon may have died far too young but his legacy can be heard in so many bands of the 1990’s. That’s gotta count for something!

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 41 days ago in Fabulae Dramatis - Progressive metal, avant-guard
    They have some shows lined up for the summer, starting this weekend. I promised Hamlet (bass, vocals) I'd get them on here by Saturday night, Japan time.
  • Posted 43 days ago in Fabulae Dramatis - Progressive metal, avant-guard
    Wow! Thanks for the quick reply! Sure, I can add them but I'll need a few days to get there. Things are piling up around here this week. But, yeah, I'll do it then. Thank you!
  • Posted 44 days ago in Fabulae Dramatis - Progressive metal, avant-guard
    Fabulae Dramatis are a Belgium-based band whose music is best described as progressive metal (with death metal vocals at times) and avant-guard metal. The band is currently comprised of four performing members, two of Slavic background and two from Colombia. Members are:Isabel Restropo - vocals, sitar, harmonium, sax, keys, lyrics, programming.Hamlet - bass, vocals, keys, production, song writingDaniel Diaz - guitar, bass, writingMaxime Moreira - drumsIsadora Cortina, a Mexican woman currently living in Norway and singing and playing keyboards for the band Ancestral Legacy, is a key recording and writing member but not a performing member.The latest album also had Wesley Beernaert on vocals but he has since left the band.Both Isabel and Daniel have studied at music academies in Europe.Their second album, "Solar Time's Fables" was released in 2016 and their debut, "Om" in 2012."Solar Time's Fables" is said to be less avant-guard or experimental than "Om" but nevertheless combines a slow and heavy death metal approach with operatic singing, clean vocals, and aggressive vocals. The band included 15 guest musicians on "Om" and 11 on "Solar Time's Fables". The range of non-traditional instruments include harmonium, saxophone, flute, accordion, djembe, cello and violin.The band formed in 2011 when Isabel found Hamlet and Isadora on MySpace and contacted them about recording some music with her for a personal project. That project evolved into Fabulae Dramatis.There is an excellent interview with the band where they talk about their history here:http://www.unratedmag.com/fabulae-dramatis-talks-progressive-avant-garde-metal-style-music/And an interview on YouTube with English subtitles here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVeRxE2x6pU

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