Metal Music Reviews from mlkpad14

ENSIFERUM Victory Songs

Album · 2007 · Folk Metal
Cover art 3.86 | 17 ratings
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Loving this album!

Sometimes, I don't know whether I am more inclined to listen to classical music and post-rock or prog metal and doom metal. Well, that is where Ensiferum comes in, or folk metal in general; this is one of the better folk metal albums in my collection, so that is all very great!

Another interesting thing about this album, specifically, is that it really helps get my brain working and creative when it is turned off.

3.5 stars because I am not really a folk metal fan in general, but as I said, this is one of the better albums in the genre.


Album · 2004 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 4.05 | 62 ratings
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Pain of Salvation was founded in 1984, by the eleven years old Daniel Gildenlöw, in Eskilstuna, Sweden. Every album released thus far has been a concept album; from Remedy Lane (2002) to The Perfect Element, Part I (2000) and In the Passing Light of Day (2017), the band has released a multitude of albums in the progressive metal genre. However, their most ambitious effort to date - that is BE (2004) - transcends any genre. It is not only a great musical experience but a major crack at ideology and philosophy. To be blunt, BE is Pain of Salvation's masterpiece, but it is also a very challenging and rewarding album.

This review will first describe the musical journey, and it will also analyze all of the themes included.


"Animae Partus ("I Am")" sounds like it belongs in the soundtrack for "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe. It introduces the album with menacing bass notes and ominous breathing. In the background, snippets of gospel-like and harmonic vocals can be heard propelling the song forward, but first and foremost are spoken word vocals that are not uncommon in post-rock. All of it makes for a very haunting two minutes.

Next, "Deus Nova (Fabricatio)" first makes use of The Orchestra of Eternity, which is truly an integral part of the album. A minute in the instrumentation becomes heavier; grand, progressive keyboards, guitar soloing, and nu metal rap vocals make up the majority of the track, but towards the end, the "Animae Partus ("I Am")" feeling returns, and the spoken words can be heard echoing.

"Imago (Homines Partus)" is not unlike "Songs from the Wood", by Jethro Tull. It is obviously folk-influenced, what with the acoustic guitar and flute playing that is dominant throughout. However, "Imago (Homines Partus)" also features a lot of contrast, which gives it the defining Pain of Salvation sound first established in The Perfect Element, Part One. The ending sound effects create the image of a forest: branches rustling, wind blowing, and pond cracking.

"Pluvius Aestivus" again makes brilliant usage of The Orchestra of Eternity. The piece is piano-driven, and it would not be out of place on Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Nobody would have ever expected something like this to appear on a Pain of Salvation album, but Gildenlöw is highly well-rounded.

"Lilium Cruentus" has an epic feel, so that in many ways it sounds like a twisted version of a ballad. There is more going on here than there appears to be: the soft parts sound repressed, but so do the rapping and screaming parts; albeit forceful and angry they are definitely curbed. The significance here is that this drives the album forward, and it foreshadows some sort of breakdown later on in the album.

"Nauticus (drifting)" comes out preachy and features more gospel. It is even more repressed, as if further elevating that future epic. At the end, there is some humorous spoken word music (think Frank Zappa).

If the theatrical "Dea Pecuniae" was performed on Broadway, it would probably alienate a lot of fans; however, Mike Patton would certainly approve of the vibe. A little over three minutes in, Gildenlöw's guitar solo is most unexpected, but Cecilia Ringkvist comes in strong on vocals, eliminating any doubts. Guitar harmonics are also responsible for the strong and successful development that makes the song, and eventually everything comes together - the shattering of a glass, screaming, and then this spoken word outro, leading right into the next song.

"Vocari Dei (Sordes Aetas - Mess Age)" is pure post-rock; piano and subtle sound effects carry the spoken words. Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is a clear inspiration - Pain of Salvation's distant contemporary. Amongst the typical English language, "Vocari Dei" uses Japanese, Dutch, and Greek to its advantage.

"Diffidentia" - headbangers, it's metal! Now, at last, we get a typical Pain of Salvation song: driving and heavy guitar, complex time signatures and subdivisions, gentler choruses, and brilliant dynamics. With the release of BE, many were disappointed that there was still no trace of The Perfect Element, Part II - they should have listened to the whole record first! What is so impressive about "Diffidentia" is that the orchestra is, even now, and undeniable part of the music!

"Nihil Morari (Homines Fabula Finis)" opens up with a repetitive rhythm on the fretless bass (reminiscent of Tool). It continues to use prog metal and nu metal as its biggest influences, and it also links back to "Deus Nova (Fabricatio)". On top of all of that, the piece screams Serj Tankian at times - all of that, of course, being pretty awesome!

"Latericius Valete" has somewhat of a symphonic feel and is somewhat of a guitar and cello duo. Together, "Latericius Valete" and "Omni (Permanere?)" sum up all different parts of the album, providing temporary closure. "Omni (Permanere?)" has the trademark prog sound popularized by Genesis and Gentle Giant - guitar arpeggios fit in very well with the orchestra, indeed.

Finally, "Iter Impius" could not be placed better in the album. Easily the best track off of the album, "Iter Impius" is six minutes of pure emotional bliss. It is almost a continuation of "Dea Pecuniae" except the ballad is more straightforward and heartfelt. Here, like throughout Remedy Lane, Gildenlöw's vocals are in full form, and nobody has a vocal range like he does! Sometimes, piano and vocals is the best way to go!

"Martius/Nauticus II" is a return to the folk style of "Imago (Homines Partus)", and it basically concludes the album. That is, "Animae Partus II" has some drumming and thumping, but otherwise, it is four minutes of silence (at the end, a family can be heard laughing and enjoying themselves).

Additionally, each part seems to begin and end on either an epic or silent note, which is cool to say the least.

My top 5: 1. Iter Impius 2. Dea Pecuniae 3. Imago (Homines Partus) 4. Diffidentia 5. Nihil Morari (Homines Fabula Finis)


2017 interview on Pain of Salvation (Daniel Gildenlöw):

"My biggest problem is that I don't believe in God, which makes everything very difficult. But, I still feel the need to address God. That's the weird thing. I've always felt that the notion of God is really important. Divinity for mankind and sort of God life being is a very strong and important concept for mankind, so it's impossible not to be fascinated and deal with it.

I talk to God every once in a while. I always start with "sorry for not believing in you". There you go... You know, for the odd chance that he or she actually exists... It's not therefore that I don't believe in them (laughs). Things can exist even if you don't believe in them. It's not that I'm saying that it's impossible that there is some sort of God; I just don't believe in it.

I tried to make that thought experiment in "BE", that if there is a God, by default that God must be on a level of existence that we cannot grasp or understand. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's something exceptionally bizarre..."

On BE:

"Chinassiah is a word puzzle, as so many other titles and phrases on the album. It derives from the combination of China (for fragility and beauty, but also man made) and Messiah (for savior but also the notion of something in which we, humanity, put our faith for salvation)."

The Latin errors are on purpose, and each of the puzzles can be translated into English.

"Animae Partus ("I Am")" can be translated to mean "A God Is Born ("I Am")". It describes how Animae, the album's representation of God, first appears out of nothing. It ends on the haunting line, "And I will spend the rest of forever; Trying to figure out who I am."

"Deus Nova (Fabricatio)", meaning "New God", describes how people first populated the Earth. Animae looks down upon the people and states, "I think they will teach me something."

"Imago (Homines Partus)", or "Imago (Man Is Born)" , is more on the birth of man, which, in the album, is represented by Imago. The lyrics describe the moralities of Imago, and the "Breathe and BE" qualities of Imago,

"Pluvius Aestivus" means "Summer Rain". It is strictly instrumental, but it most likely represents "longing for the things we could not be" from Imago. Man is beautiful, yet far from perfect overall; for every champion, there is a rotten egg too.

"Lilium Cruentus", "Blood Stained Lily", is about death, and it is about all those that truly do not deserve to pass on. (leftovers from Rope Ends?)

"Nauticus (drifting)" is about the fictional space probe, Nauticus. According to BE, it is the most intelligent space probe to have ever been created, and it drifts throughout space, searching for answers to "save Earth from itself". Additionally, "Nauticus" is latin for "Sailor"; Nauticus embarks on a journey throughout space.

At the end of "Nauticus (drifting)", Mr. Money is first introduced along with his girlfriend. He jokes about letting her drive the expensive car; in other words, Mr. Money represents "greed" and one who is pretentious (not Daniel Gildenlöw; he is not pretentious!).

"Dea Pecuniae" can be translated to mean "Goddess of Money". The first part, "Mr. Money", is about how Mr. Money decides he loves money, more than any women; he does not care about making relationships, and rather, he decides to be "cold" and "mean". "Permanere" and "I Raise My Glass" play on the same concept.

"Vocari Dei", "Message to God", is about how powerful faith is. Many are uncertain that Animae exists, or they believe he is no longer there; however, they still pray to him or her - against everything that Mr. Money stands for.

"Diffidentia", "Mistrust", is one big theory revolving around everything that brought about the destruction of Animae - at first, Imago screams of hope, but at the end Imago states, "We failed."

"Nihil Morari (Homines Fabula Finis)" means "Nothing Remains (The Story of Man Comes To An End)". Imago apologizes for all of its sins - "Abuse", "Rape", stealing, and the loss of "thanks" - that finally cause Imago to implode on itself. "Latericius Valete", or "If You Are Strong, Be Strong", and "Omni (Permanere?)", or "Everything", further stress this concept.

"Iter Impius", meaning "Wicked Path", describes how Mr. Money finally wakes up. He has spent all of his money on cryogenics, and asked not be awaken until he be made immortal. How that he is immortal, he is very happy; he does not care when he discovers the absence of Imago.

At the end, Nauticus finally succeeds in his journey and contributes the "BE" that society needs to survive. This is in "Martius/Nauticus II"; in "Animae Partus II", Animae comes back, bringing a brand new Imago with him.

What happens to Mr. Money is uncertain. The above review is just my interpretation of one of the best albums ever.


Live on, Pain of Salvation! (but seriously, I love every album they have released!)

COHEED AND CAMBRIA Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness

Album · 2005 · Heavy Alternative Rock
Cover art 4.17 | 44 ratings
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Looking back at many reviews, it seems like this album is mostly getting an okay rep, but I think this album deserves 5 stars. I don't say that often at all, and I will explain just what led me to my decision.

Initially, actually, I didn't think much of the album. With each listen though, the album grew on me. While I'm sure that this album will disappear amongst my music list in the next month or so, every listen since I tried it 2 weeks ago has bounced this album to its essential ranking.

After my first listen, I was happy to give the album 3 stars as it really didn't do anything for me. However, by the 2nd listen and the 3rd listen, I was noticing epics such as the 4-part "The Willing Well" and the energy-filled "Welcome Home."

Then, by my 4th and 5th listen I was really digging more and more songs from the album. Particularly, "Always and Never" held high replay value for me. It reminded me of a short preview to Steven Wilson's song "Pariah." They both just felt like they should've been longer, but they weren't so I found myself replaying them over and over!

My 5th listen was mostly for the lyrics. The story seems exaggerated but valuable, though I'm partial as to whether I should buy the parallel graphic novels.

Finally, my next few 6th, 7th, and 8th listens were just really fun. The album isn't all that technical and it is very poppy. They move through concepts quickly, and all-in-all it makes the album very fun to listen to when looking for something to bounce around to. Very worth trying out!

ESOTERIC The Maniacal Vale

Album · 2008 · Funeral Doom Metal
Cover art 4.32 | 16 ratings
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I'm a little bit of a newbie to doom metal, but so far I love the thirty or so albums I've listened to... And this is the best one!

Each piece flows beginning to end and into the next. The atmosphere this album explores is crafted in the most beautiful way, and the layering adds so much to the pieces. The heaviness is so heavy it's awesome!

I can't wait to hear the rest of this band's work, but I doubt it'll be as good as this... Honestly, I'm just baffled by this masterpiece!

To conclude, I really liked this album - everything about it!

METALLICA Lulu (with Lou Reed)

Album · 2011 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 1.62 | 69 ratings
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Overall, LuLu is a good experimental album.

It has some drawbacks: it doesn't flow good, and I don't think Lou Reed's voice really fits with the instrumentals.

I love both Metallica and Lou Reed.

Metallica have always been ridiculed for their new material. St. Anger is one of my favorite albums of all time, and yet no one could stand their sound on that album. Metallica's new album is also awesome, yet people look down on it just because "the old stuff is better".

Lou Reed is an old rock n' roller, and a true 70s experimentalist. He has a real great voice; he's so talented with words. The Velvet Underground were groundbreaking when they came out - they are still a real treat.

Put that together... these artists were having fun. Atonal pieces are hard to get into; this one wasn't done the best either. Still good, though... Why all the hate?

CRUTHU The Angle Of Eternity

Album · 2017 · Doom Metal
Cover art 2.00 | 1 rating
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MMA Reviewer Challenge: Album selected by Nightfly

Cruthu is a traditional doom band, based in Lansing, Michigan. The band began recording in the spring of 2014, and though their goal is not to innovate, they say they are more focused on creating good music.

The Angle of Eternity is the band's first album. It achieves a very rich sound - one that shows it was recorded very well. The album has very thematic lyrics; its music has roots in heavy music from the 70s.

Yet, as good as it might be, it is so not new... How many bands sound almost exactly like them?

The reason I gave Cruthu's latest album 2 stars is because, honestly, I doubt I will be listening to this album in a few months. It is not only that, but also the fact that I probably won't even remember them in a year - both are signals that this album just did not do enough for me.

If any of you disagree, feel free to comment below!

DREAM THEATER The Astonishing

Album · 2016 · Progressive Metal
Cover art 2.70 | 36 ratings
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Bands change, right? That could be used to argue Dream Theater's case, but they never actually changed, did they?

"The Astonishing" is in itself a rather terrific concept album, and it explores very interesting territory in both its lyrical and its musical approach.

Even though I can totally say that the lyrics fulfill their job, they don't really do much more for me - probably since I don't really understand the astonishing concept that they do so much to explore. The music, though, seems to have given the word "progressive" an entirely new meaning. The band brilliantly crafts through symphonic passages and short blurbs. Standalone songs, such as "The Gift of Music" and "Our New World" help create checkpoints for listeners first exploring the three hours of snippets of vocals, guitars, and synthesizer solos.

If Mike Petrucci was there, they probably would have never created this album. Even though I prefer John Petrucci to Mike Mangini, it seems a real good thing that Mike Mangini took over on drums.

Many cheers for this great album - may it shine on, and hopefully, pave the road for future Dream Theater albums of the same sort.

METALLICA Hardwired... to Self-Destruct

Album · 2016 · Heavy Metal
Cover art 3.38 | 33 ratings
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5/4/17 (3 1/2 stars) - "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct" was 5 stars when it came out. Each single was major, and I stayed up all night listening to the album on the day of its release. What's more, that day I was packed with so much energy - in short, the album rejuvenated me.

The problem with the album is not that it isn't as good as Metallica's earlier stuff because honestly, it is still really good. Rather, the problem is that it just doesn't last. Unlike the true goodies and all the 5-star albums out there, it does not guarantee all those months and even years of listening. Hardly can most imagine the next generation listening to this album, and rather obvious is that absolutely no one in the generation afterward would have even heard of it.

As far as the album goes, people have managed to agree that it is pretty much modern-sounding thrash. "Hardwired" is most likely the craziest song on the album, with its three minutes of chaos. All the other songs are pinned at six or seven minutes, a reasonable length. While the first disc is half singles and all epics, the second disc is made up of slightly more gradual pieces. That is to say, they are still all thrash and epic, but not to the same extent as the first disc's

"Spit Out The Bone" was the perfect song to end the album, and the deluxe version's third disc had all of the right songs, as well. "Ronnie Rising Medley" and "When a Blind Man Cries" would have went unnoticed if they weren't included, and the older Metallica songs were surely some of their best.

In short, "Hardwired... To Self Destruct" is a fantastic album for Metallica to have released as possibly their last new studio work. On the other hand, it will be lost in time, and it has already lost its appeal to most of those that have excessively listened to it. It is quite sad... well, it is still awesome that they have made it this far. If Metallica can release another album just as good, I'm sure everyone will be flattered.

5/18/17 (EDIT: 5 stars) - I made the mistake to review this album before I saw most of it live. The second Metallica started with "Hardwired" my mouth dropped open and I was lost in a world of crazy fantasy. Honestly, as they continued through "Atlas, Rise!", "Moth Into Flame", and "Now That We're Dead"... It is awesome how my opinion changed so drastically!

This is an album for the centuries, and nothing Metallica has done or will do will EVER go to waste!


Album · 2003 · Thrash Metal
Cover art 1.74 | 119 ratings
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St. Anger gets hate, but if someone were to forget Metallica's older releases maybe they would more so appreciate the album.

Actually, "St. Anger" happens to be one my favorite alternative albums and one of my favorite albums by Metallica.

James Hetfield has supported on many occasions the amount of anger and emotion that went into the album's making. He has stated that, "There's two years of condensed emotion in this. We've gone through a lot of personal changes, struggles, epiphanies, it's deep. It's so deep lyrically and musically."

To me, that is what this album stands for, and that is what the mood it conveys. So this album fits at times when I am really angry, or at times when I am, ironically, really happy.

The album, in my opinion, can be paired with other similar alternative albums such as Slipknot's ".5: The Gray Chapter" and Korn's "Path of Totality." At the same time though, it can be paired with thrash metal releases in the same category as most of Metallica's other albums.

The album is no doubt timeless, but it looks like nobody will ever realize so. Sad to say the least.

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