Andyman1125

Andy Webb
MMA Special Collaborator · Honorary Collaborator
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit more than 2 years ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

165 reviews/ratings
DREAM THEATER - Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Images and Words Progressive Metal | review permalink
RUSH - Hemispheres Hard Rock | review permalink
CYNIC - Traced in Air Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence Progressive Metal | review permalink
RUSH - Beyond the Lighted Stage Hard Rock | review permalink
RUSH - Moving Pictures Hard Rock | review permalink
ALCEST - Écailles de lune Atmospheric Black Metal | review permalink
KING CRIMSON - Larks' Tongues In Aspic Proto-Metal
KARNIVOOL - Sound Awake Alternative Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Live Scenes From New York Progressive Metal
DREAM THEATER - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Progressive Metal
SWANS - The Seer Non-Metal
HAKEN - Aquarius Progressive Metal | review permalink
CHIMP SPANNER - At the Dream's Edge Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - A Change of Seasons Progressive Metal | review permalink
DREAM THEATER - Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra Progressive Metal | review permalink
AGALLOCH - The Mantle Folk Metal
TRIVIUM - Shogun Melodic Metalcore
SYMPHONY X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy Progressive Metal

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 76 3.88
2 Metal Related 10 3.90
3 Metalcore 8 3.38
4 Non-Metal 7 3.07
5 Alternative Metal 7 3.79
6 Melodic Metalcore 6 3.42
7 Power Metal 6 3.50
8 Heavy Metal 5 3.00
9 Hard Rock 5 4.60
10 Symphonic Metal 4 3.75
11 Technical Death Metal 4 2.75
12 Thrash Metal 3 4.17
13 Avant-garde Metal 3 4.00
14 Death Metal 3 4.00
15 Deathcore 3 3.17
16 Folk Metal 2 4.25
17 Groove Metal 2 3.00
18 Heavy Alternative Rock 2 4.00
19 Atmospheric Black Metal 2 4.00
20 Proto-Metal 2 4.75
21 Sludge Metal 1 4.00
22 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 1 3.50
23 Industrial Metal 1 2.50
24 Mathcore 1 3.00
25 Nu Metal 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

METALLICA Lulu (with Lou Reed)

Album · 2011 · Heavy Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
To many Metallica seemed to be a dead horse the moment the band released their eighth studio album St. Anger in 2003. The amateur production, undeveloped and raunchy compositions, and overall rather, well, bad album seemed to signal the death of the once most popular metal band in the world. Band tensions were at an all-time high, and the band seemed to be on the verge of dissolution. Yet, the band returned in 2008 with the significantly better Death Magnetic. The album signaled the apparent return to their thrash metal riffs, and while the songs on the album were not as progressive or forward thinking as some on their earlier albums, the album was decisively not bad. When the band announced in 2011 that they were to be collaborating with legendary experimental artist Lou Reed, understandably many fans were rather frightened at the prospect. The two famous musicians, Lou Reed and Metallica as a whole, are very well known not only for their strong headed beliefs but also their general jerk-ish nature. While other similarities may have made it seem as the collaboration might have had some lick of potential, the interesting pairing was bound to have issues. Lou Reed, who is just about 70 years old, is certainly in no position to start making music with a famous metal band. Metallica, whose strong headedness and desire to not care about anyone else in the music business, was not exactly in the position to make music with this 70 year old musician. Nevertheless, LULU was made. The LULU project was an interesting concept to say the least. The album is a double concept album based off the drama of the same name by playwright Frank Wedekind. Reed was allowed to lead the vocal output as well as write all the lyrics. What emerged was the single "The View." The song was abrasive, to say the least. Reed's more "elderly" voice recites his amateurish "poetry" in a spoken word style over Metallica's thrash metal based riffs. The riffs weren't the most creative the band's ever produced, and Reed's choppy vocal work made the whole song entirely humorous. This laughable effort made me, as well as most critics and fans, very worried about the overall release.

The listener's trepidations were answered on Halloween 2011 with the official album release. The 80+ minute album was a true pain to endure through. Reed's vocal performance on "The View" is sadly one of the best on the album, with his vocal work on "Brandenburg Gate" and "Cheat on Me" being especially horrendous. I must say if I begin to laugh hysterically at any body of music that is meant to be released entirely seriously is not a good sign. The awkward, badly coordinated and uncomfortable don't aid this either. While the music behind the awkward vocals as well as James Hetfield's strong backing vocals are overall "good," I really can't take Lou Reed's chanting seriously.

Somehow I can see how the band seemed to enjoy making this album. The music they wrote is not bad. It has that thrash flair that was present on Death Magnetic and is overall quite good for the classic thrash band. They obviously still have somewhat of an experimental bone in them, and what they heard of Lou Reed's dissonant screeching must have impressed them somehow. Also, I can see that they thought it might have been cool to stick to the music industry with this album. Somehow they succeeded in not only drawing me in to the album but getting it and listening to it a number of times, despite the fact that I hated near every listen. There is a point where "avant-garde" and "experimental" becomes "terrible" and "pointless," and this album has for sure crossed that threshold by many miles.

There's not much more to say on Metallica's tenth studio album. The album, pointlessly running at over 87 minutes, is spread over two discs and is a laborious listen the whole way through. Each song has something hysterical to laugh at, and usually its Reed's warbling spoken word vocals. The album also features a few "epics," most notably the pointlessly long 19-minute drone piece "Junior Dad," which really ends at 3 minutes yet continues on for another 16 minutes in a vindictive rant of droney strings, Reed's occasionally haunting wolf moan, occasional actual music, and an overall pointless run of ambient mush. In the end, LULU has shown itself to be Metallica's most controversial release yet, and it doesn't tilt in their favor. 1 star.

KARNIVOOL Sound Awake

Album · 2009 · Alternative Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Anyone with the desire to peruse the progressive hard rock genre can see a clear dichotomy in the genre. On one side is the classic 70s sound, with thick Hammond swaths, overdriven guitar riffs, and a blues-rock based sound. On the other side is the more modern style, made up of the post-hardcore, punk, alt-metal, and other "modern" heavy rock bands that dabble in more progressive styles, most notable Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta. While both constitute "heavy" prog, it's almost amusing how different the two styles can be. Karnivool rose out of a Perth-based garage band formed by singer Ian Kenny in the late 90s. The band initially played a quite standard form of the nu-metal which had exploded over the past decade. The band, which gradually evolved over the years, released first the Persona EP in 2001, then the Themata LP in 2005, both displaying their rather average brand of alt metal. Finally, around 2008 something snapped. With the addition of Steve Judd on drums and John Stockman on bass, the band suddenly seemed driven to experiment with their sound. The masterful product of their mind-opening music adventure was their 2009 opus Sound Awake.

The sound of this album is hard to explain outright. The band, in their four year rest period from Themata, had obviously dabbled in countless different genres, ranging from atmospheric post rock and metal, jazz fusion, some kind of bass-heavy music, progressive metal, Porcupine Tree-esque psych-flavored hard rock and metal, and countless other experimental and progressive styles. On top of this, the quintet's chemistry as a compositional team exploded, as the album's fluidity and ease of transitions is expressed with ultimate grace constantly throughout the 75+ minute album. The crystal clear production and spot-on musicianship shines through the quintet's obvious passion and desire in their music. The harmonies, communication, and liquid nature of the music is perfect. Whether they are gently floating down melodically dense passages, cruising through aggressive sections of near metallic fury, the band is accurate in every attempt they make at composition.

Similar to the majestic Australian countryside, Sound Awake takes the listener on a musical journey, travelling across Outback plains of sand and stone, cityscape vistas of metropolitan chaos, and oceanic masses of majestic beauty. With dynamic like the beauteous soundscapes and post-rock inspired "New Day," the fast-paced and ferocious "Set Fire to the Hive," the epic grandeur of the 20-minute duo of "Deadman" and "Change," and every delicious second that lies out and in between, this album certainly has its share of masterful beauty. And while the band has technically been around for over a decade, this sophomore release certainly shows the band's alarming amount of maturity in music.

Speechlessness is most likely my first reaction on a simple perusal listen of the album. At first I thought a 76 minute album by this (at the time) unknown Australian band may have been a bit too daunting for one digestion, but I was quickly proven wrong by this breathtaking album. The consistent quality, constant pleasure, and commanding masterfulness of the album make it easily one of the best new releases by one of the "modern" heavy prog band. While at the time of this review's authorship Karnivool have yet to release a new album, many are eagerly awaiting more of this delicious formula, and understandably so. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

X-PANDA Flight of Fancy

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
The flight of a lifetime

X-Panda is a very new band to emerge on to the already crowded progressive metal scene. Hailing from Estonia, a country not necessarily synonymous with metal or prog, the band seems to have declared their duty to forge their own path in the music world. Armed with professional music education and the drive to make some of the most well-crafted prog metal on this side of the multiverse, the band certainly has made quite a hit with their debut full length album Flight of Fancy. As jazz fans as well as metal fans, the band has encapsulated a love of melody within a love of technicality and metal. The glorious 70 minute album is comprised of eleven (or more accurately ten, not counting the intro) contains easily some of the best prog metal released in many years, with the mostly instrumental music reaching sonic heights not often reached by even the more established bands. The melodically dense music sends the listener on a fantastic journey, which is a feat for any band, never mind a young, yet-unestablished band. X-Panda seems to know what they’re doing and yet they’ve just begun.

It’s not often that I’ll find a metal album that has a heavier (excuse the pun) emphasis on melody than it does on the “metal” aspect of the music, that is the crunching riffs, intense atmosphere, hard-hitting drumming, etcetera. X-Panda seems to have the “lighter” route, with songs noodling around delicate lines of melody and wonderfully orchestrated harmonic sections between the four instrumentalists. I really love how the drums work equally with the guitar, bass, and keyboards as a definite aspect of the music, weaving in and out of melodically-based rhythms and, as noted in the liner notes, Gavin Harrison-esque “rhythmic illusions,” with sections seemingly in 4/4 actually being in triplet form of 12/8, polyrhythms of 7/8 feeling like perfect 4/4 until the perfect “unsynchronized” moment, and so on. While of course there were sections of the album where riffs dominated the music, these tend to not only be the weaker points of album but are also quite scarce across the entire play time.

Easily the best quality of the entire album is the joyful and ethereal quality the solos and melody take on in their context in the songs. Especially on the songs “Dickybirds” and the title track, the melody seems to become alive within the song, exploring new sonic depths not only due to the clean and well-done production, but because of their very nature of pure music. In the context of jazz-fusion tinged prog metal, such a style, especially on the piano, truly shines through and makes the album that much brighter.

In the end, X-Panda’s debut album Flight of Fancy will easily go down as one of the better prog metal releases of the decade. Although through 70 minutes the songs begin to seem to blend into one near indistinguishable song (with obvious reprieves of memorable and distinct tracks), the album still holds its own right as a wonderful melodic journey. Of course the obvious influences can be derived from the music, with guitar solo structures and arrangements often having strong similarities to one Mr. John Petrucci and other typical progressive metal influences. However, these barely hinder the fact that the band has compiled a truly wonderful collection of ten (full length) songs for the listener’s enjoyment - and enjoy it I did. 4 stars.

CALIGULA'S HORSE Colossus

EP · 2011 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Short in stature, colossal in depth

Caligula’s Horse is a young Australian Progressive Metal band founded in early 2011. The band was originally intended to be Quandary guitarist Sam Valen’s solo project, until he found vocalist Jim Grey whose powerful voice fitted Valen’s fresh prog metal music quite wonderfully. The duo’s debut album Moments from the Ephemeral City contained about 40 minutes of truly delicious and quite fresh-sounding prog metal takes, so when the duo recruited a full band and recorded two new tracks with the new lineup pointed towards release as an EP and as bonus tracks on the physical release of the band’s debut, I was excited. I was not disappointed. The two-track EP Colossus only runs a short 10 or so minutes, but the two tracks host a wealth of creative spirit, exciting styles, and inventive sounds.

The short EP contains the title track and the song “Vanishing Rites (Tread Softly Little One).” The EP is much the same style as the preceding full length, with adventurous, dynamic, and diverse sounds all melding into a continuous stream of powerful and very progressive metal. Grey’s strong voice perfectly accentuates Valen and Zac Greensil’s well-placed guitar playing, and Dave Couper and Geoff Irish, bassist and drummer respectively, hold down a wonderful rhythm for the entire band to play around. Now a full band, the EP is also less guitar-centric, with the bass and drums both being much more prevalent in the mix, which makes the music sound much more full and embellished. The diversity of the music is also very much present, with the frequent shifting from mellow melodic rock to happy-go-lucky near-shuffle-esque “metal” to djent-inspired prog metal riff sessions - all of which are quite wonderful for the ears.

The Colossus EP, the second release from this young and promising Australian progressive metal band has blown me away in much the same way the band’s debut album did - the guys in the band have made it quite obvious that they are chock full of creative talent, compositional know-how, and the ability to produce a kick-ass album. The two tracks are dripping with some of the better modern progressive metal to emerge from the scene in the last few years. I can see this band becoming one of the “big ones” in the near future. Highly recommended. 4 stars.

DREAM THEATER A Dramatic Turn of Events

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Breaking all illusions

Dream Theater is a band that needs to introduction. They are the single most popular progressive metal band in the industry, selling millions upon millions of records and playing shows to thousands of die-hard fans. They almost single-handedly forged the path of one of the most prosperous genres in modern progressive rock. They have some of the most dedicated fans of any band as well as some of the most dedicated haters of any band. They’re signature sound can be heard from miles away and has been imitated by countless bands. Their mix of “melody, metal, and prog” has become the standard for near all prog metal bands in their echelon, and the band’s incredible amount of virtuosity has made them gods among technical-loving musicians everywhere. However, the past year has been the most tumultuous time in the band’s entire history. Dream Theater has had its share of “drama.” In 1994-95, the band’s first keyboardist Kevin Moore left the band, and lead singer James LaBrie ruptured his vocal chords due to a food poisoning incident, all right before the band’s second world tour. In the band’s 2010-11 season, however, something eternally more shocking occurred - DT’s driving force and founding member Mike Portnoy announced his departure from the band. Of course, this created an upheaval of reactions from the band’s legions of fans, and much discussion, bittering, and outright arguing occurred between the fans. The band had decided to continue on as a band, which was contrary to what Portnoy had wanted. So, the band stayed in secrecy about their new drummer, announcing they had gone back to the studio in January, and that their new album was to be titled A Dramatic Turn of Events (an aptly, but perhaps a bit too aptly, titled title), before announcing in April of 2011, near 6 months after Portnoy had left, that legendary drummer Mike Mangini, former holder of the fastest single stroke player (over 1200 hits in a minute) was the band’s new drummer. They also announced in documentary form that they had auditioned 7 drummers: Mangini, Virgil Donati, Aquiles Prester, Marco Minnemann, Thomas Lang, Peter Wildoer, and Derek Roddy. In June, the band excitedly released their first single off the new album, “On the Backs of Angels,” which displayed a less metal-dense and very typical progressive Dream Theater sound, which, for the most part, excited fans. The progressive world then patiently waited until September 13 (or, for some, a wee bit earlier due to some less than legal activities) for the release of the band’s new album.

The 77 minute album was a treat for most. The band seemed, despite popular belief, to still be able to write music without Mike Portnoy. In some cases, it seems Portnoy’s insistence on metal seems to have lightened a bit, as there are more ballads and more of a balance between the guitar, keys, and bass (I’ll get to the drums later). Although the metal aspect of the music is still very much present, it seems the album has a heavier emphasis on progressiveness and melody, rather than simply riffs, riffs and more riffs. Rudess and Myung both seem to be much more present (Myung especially) on this album as well, giving a more dynamic approach then just Petrucci’s constant dominance over the music. The entire album is brimming with signature Dream Theater songs - with Rudess’ interesting use of silly keyboard voices, Petrucci’s virtuoso riffing and soloing, and now Mangini’s mechanical and precise drumming, it seems this is the band’s true return to form, and easily the band’s best since 2005’s Octavarium.

Now I’m well known around these parts as a massive Dream Theater fanboy, and that really any opinion of a new Dream Theater album will be slightly skewed based on nearly every prog fan’s natural bias towards the band, good or bad. However, despite my undying love of this band, my opinion of the album seems to have evened out after eleven or so listens. My first listen was skewed by an excitement-high that had me nearly writing a perfect 5 star review. I stopped myself, though. My second listen wasn’t as grand. I seemed to think the album was just another Octavarium with a little Images and Words mixed in; good but nothing special. However, with the third, fourth, fifth, and so on listens, I began to hear the little bits of true greatness the band seemed to have baked into the album. The metal tracks were aggressive, epic, and progressive. The ballads were sincere, intimate, and well played. The longer tracks were arranged well, although not as well as they once were (arrangement was Portnoy’s strong suit). The instrumentation was spot on, with Petrucci’s solos as good as they’ve ever been. Myung’s bass lines are masterful and also, amazingly, audible (at least with a subwoofer :-P). The lyrics weren’t anything to write home about, but they were typical to Dream Theater - seemingly political, ambiguous, and with an overuse of the words “soul” or “life.” Not every song is perfect, with the second track “Build me up, Break me Down” seeming like a cheesy James LaBrie solo career ripoff radio attempt, which seriously drags the album down. Mangini’s drumming seems to have been forced to take the back seat in the mix, which is a daunting contrast to Portnoy’s ever-present drumming in former mixes. LaBrie’s singing, which is usually a sore spot amongst fans and haters alike, is wonderful on the album, and he does an excellent job especially on the album’s 3 ballads.

Each track on the album seems to have a little something special to it, even the lesser ones of the album. The opener, “On the Backs of Angels” is the cozy song for fans, a kind of “hey, we’re still Dream Theater!” that retains the band’s classic sound in a very traditional and signature way. The track is a fantastic showcase of Rudess’ skill, with a great keyboard part really shining in the song. “Build me Up, Break me Down” is easily the weakest song on the album, yet still has a distinct quality to it. It is the album’s “radio friendly” song, although it’s quite the traditional metal song; it is similar to Systematic Chaos’s “Constant Motion” in its intent, methinks. “Lost not Forgotten” is the album’s first “long song,” clocking in at around 10 minutes. Lyrically, it is about the fallen kingdom of Persia, and musically, it’s just as epic as that ancient kingdom. Vast, emotive, and powerful, it is certainly a high point on the album. It is followed by the first ballad on the album, the emotional and moving “This is the Life,” which has a potent dynamic of near-AOR-esque guitar riffing and truly beautiful piano and vocal work. It is easily one of the band’s better ballads in their discography, and it adds a really nice touch to the album. “Bridges in the Sky,” originally titled The Shaman’s Trance, is the second 11 minute epic of the album, which is full of interesting dynamics, intense riffs, and very strong instrumental and vocal performances. It features a classic Dream Theater instrumental section, with precision synchronization, Petrucci/Rudess switch off solos, and an overall incredible virtuoso show-off session. “Outcry” follows suit with “Bridges…,” with an 11 minute length and an epic dynamic metal Dream Theater-fest. Much in the same way of “Bridges…,” it features an epic instrumental section, full of technical mayhem and progressive epicness. “Far From Heaven” is by far the most melancholic song on the album. It features tender vocals by LaBrie, emotive piano work from Rudess, and a very well placed string quartet. “Breaking All Illusions” is the album’s true epic, clocking in at over 12 minutes, and containing all that the album has been building up to. Epic riffing, intense instrumentation, powerful vocals, and even very well written lyrics by none other than John Myung make this easily the best song on the album and a treat for all progressive metal fans. The album finally ends with the guitar-led ballad “Beneath the Surface,” which has a very similar approach to “Far From Heaven,” except in a major key. The song is uplifting and calming, with the subtle strings and Petrucci’s laid back guitar work meshing beautifully with LaBrie’s vocals. It ends the joy ride of an album on a truly spectacular note, wrapping the entire album up in a pretty plush blanket that makes you feel all nice and fuzzy on the inside. Overall, the album has its ups and downs, but it certainly makes for a wonderfully enjoyable roller coaster.

Although this may seem like an over-long and verbose description of how I love this album, I think there’s a little bit of reason behind my 1600+ word review. It has been established time and time again that Dream Theater seems to be in a slump in their creative careers. Needless to say the last few albums have simply been decent, average modern Dream Theater material, with nothing truly outstanding about it. Post-Scenes From a Memory, Dream Theater seemed to be going downhill, and downhill fast. However, it seems that perhaps they have turned their noses up slightly. The album is the band’s true return to form in my opinion. Vast, dynamic progressive metal that’s not drowning in metal riffs but rather floating on a sea of well-developed and carefully chosen riffs is truly what makes up this album. It’s sad that it took a truly dramatic turn of events such as their drummer’s departure for the band to wake up and produce such a masterful album such as A Dramatic Turn of Events. I believe this is the best thing Dream Theater has created in the past 6 years. 4+ stars.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

Shouts

Please login to post a shout
No shouts posted yet. Be the first member to do so above!

Contents

Member Zone

Username:
Password:
Stay signed in

Metal Subgenres

Artists Alpha-index

MMA TOP 5 Metal ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
METALLICA
Buy this album from our partners
Moving Pictures Hard Rock
RUSH
Buy this album from our partners
Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
MEGADETH
Buy this album from our partners
Powerslave NWoBHM
IRON MAIDEN
Buy this album from our partners
Are You Experienced? Proto-Metal
JIMI HENDRIX
Buy this album from our partners

New Metal Artists

New Metal Releases

Crossing Parallels Metalcore
DEEP AS OCEAN
Buy this album from MMA partners
Between The Devil And The Sea Metalcore
AURALIST
Buy this album from MMA partners
So It Begins Metalcore
SO IT BEGINS
Buy this album from MMA partners
This Is Rock Hard Rock
GALLOWS POLE
Buy this album from MMA partners
Carcinoid / Gosudar Death Metal
GOSUDAR
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Metal Online Videos

Broken By The Scream -????????-
BROKEN BY THE SCREAM
Bosh66· 19 hours ago
Broken By The Scream -?????-
BROKEN BY THE SCREAM
Bosh66· 19 hours ago
More videos

New MMA Metal Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Metal News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us

Buy Metal Music Online