Kev Rowland

Kev Rowland
MMA Special Collaborator · Errors & Omissions Team
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 22 days ago

Favorite Metal Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

574 reviews/ratings
ENSLAVED - RIITIIR Progressive Metal | review permalink
SYLOSIS - Monolith Thrash Metal | review permalink
RIVERSIDE - Shrine of New Generation Slaves Metal Related | review permalink
SOILWORK - The Living Infinite Melodic Death Metal | review permalink
NEAL MORSE - Live Momentum Metal Related | review permalink
HYPOCRISY - End Of Disclosure Melodic Death Metal | review permalink
AVANTASIA - The Mystery of Time Heavy Metal | review permalink
DARK SERMON - In Tongues Deathcore | review permalink
SPIRITUAL BEGGARS - Earth Blues Stoner Rock | review permalink
BLACK STAR RIDERS - All Hell Breaks Loose Hard Rock | review permalink
STALA & SO. - Play Another Round Glam Metal | review permalink
VANDROYA - One Power Metal | review permalink
ORPHANED LAND - All Is One Folk Metal | review permalink
HYPOCRISY - Penetralia / Osculum Obscenum Death Metal | review permalink
8 FOOT SATIVA - The Shadow Masters Melodic Death Metal | review permalink
LINGUA MORTIS ORCHESTRA - LMO Symphonic Metal | review permalink
WE CAME AS ROMANS - Tracing Back Roots Metalcore | review permalink
WATAIN - The Wild Hunt Black Metal | review permalink
HAKEN - The Mountain Progressive Metal | review permalink
DROTTNAR - Stratum Black Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 64 3.65
2 Progressive Metal 61 3.97
3 Heavy Metal 49 3.48
4 Power Metal 49 3.60
5 Death Metal 46 3.95
6 Black Metal 42 3.80
7 Thrash Metal 35 3.63
8 Melodic Death Metal 20 4.20
9 Alternative Metal 17 3.56
10 Metalcore 15 3.57
11 Technical Death Metal 14 3.93
12 Doom Metal 13 3.50
13 Folk Metal 12 3.88
14 Groove Metal 10 3.70
15 Symphonic Metal 10 3.70
16 Deathcore 9 3.89
17 Glam Metal 8 3.38
18 Brutal Death Metal 8 4.06
19 Melodic Black Metal 7 3.64
20 Metal Related 7 4.79
21 Non-Metal 6 3.75
22 Atmospheric Black Metal 6 3.83
23 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 6 3.58
24 Hardcore Punk 5 3.40
25 US Power Metal 5 4.00
26 Symphonic Black Metal 4 4.50
27 Stoner Metal 4 3.75
28 Death-Doom Metal 4 4.13
29 Gothic Metal 3 4.00
30 Avant-garde Metal 3 3.17
31 Crossover Thrash 3 3.33
32 Heavy Psych 3 4.00
33 Industrial Metal 3 3.50
34 Melodic Metalcore 3 4.00
35 Stoner Rock 3 4.33
36 Sludge Metal 3 2.50
37 Speed Metal 3 3.00
38 NWoBHM 2 4.00
39 Funeral Doom Metal 2 4.00
40 Grindcore 1 3.50
41 Depressive Black Metal 1 2.00
42 Death 'n' Roll 1 2.50
43 Pagan Black Metal 1 3.00
44 Mathcore 1 4.00
45 Heavy Alternative Rock 1 3.00
46 Trance Metal 1 2.50

Latest Albums Reviews

BENEDICTION Scriptures

Album · 2020 · Death Metal
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When vocalist of over 20 years Dave Hunt announced he needed time away from the band to finish his PhD, the lads decided not to sit back and wait. With Dave’s blessing, they decided to push on without him, and to find the right singer only took one call as they approached Dave Ingram, who had sung in the band for eight years in the Nineties and was replaced by Dave Hunt when he left. Founder members and guitarists Darren Brookes and Peter Rew are of course still there, while they are now joined by the rhythm section from Omicida, bassist Dan Bate and drummer Giovanni Durst.

The result is a death metal album which is somehow strangely commercial, yet solid to the roots. They feel no need to go out and prove they are going to be faster and heavier than anyone else but instead have gone where the music takes them, which in turn means that some of the passages are far more mainstream than one would expect from a band of this genre. The band have settled into a groove, which is interesting given that Ingram recorded 5 albums with the guys during his original tenure, yet for whatever reason the band only recorded 2 with Hunt, and this is actually their first album in 12 years. However, they have gone into it as if they have never been away, and Ingram is locked in with the guitars as one, while bringing in a rhythm section who already know each other has also obviously paid dividends. This is an incredibly easy album to listen to and get inside from the very first notes to the last, and I kept finding myself with a smile on my face as this is just so much damn fun. It crosses into the mainstream more than one would normally expect, but that only gives it an edge which makes it even more enjoyable. Metalheads rejoice, Benediction are back.

AZARATH Saint Desecration

Album · 2020 · Death Metal
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I was a huge fan of Azarath’s last album, ‘In Extremis’, so I was very pleased to see they had not taken as long to release a new one (which was my major complaint last time). In between times they have parted company with singer/guitarist Necrosodom, and founder Inferno (drums, Behemoth), guitarist Bart (Armagedon, Damnation) and bassist Peter (Lost Soul) have now been joined by lead vocalist/guitarist Skullripper (Embrional). They may have a new person at the front, but apart from that there is little in the way of change for the Black Metal onslaught which is Azarath. They have been pushing the Black Metal scene in Poland for more than 20 years, and they show no signs whatsoever of slowing down yet.

There are plenty of nods to death metal within their music, but it never takes over the blackness, and Skullripper’s vocals are perfectly suited to the role at hand. He is coarse and gruff, but his diction is also very clear, so one can understand what is going on, and the band do not veer into areas which are too atmospheric yet somehow keep it firmly within the BM style without stepping too far outside. The band are incredibly tight, which is what one would expect given that Bart joined Inferno in 2000 while Peter became part of the band in 2011, which means all Skullripper had to do was fit in the already existing trio. It is a huge sounding album, one which cries out to be played at very high volumes, with purpose and demonic intent all the way through. The guys consistently produce some of the best albums in the genre, and this one is simply essential.

STRYPER Even the Devil Believes

Album · 2020 · Heavy Metal
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I’m not really sure what is left to say about Stryper, who have remained true to their goals for most of their career. Back in 1983, when they were known as Roxx Regime, they released a six-track demo, and three of the four participants are still there today, namely Michael Sweet (vocals, guitar), Robert Sweet (drums) and Oz Fox (guitar, vocals). There was a point recently when the band went on hiatus due to the other founder, Tim Gaines, having some personal issues and at that time Michael said the band would not perform as Stryper without him. Obviously there has been a rethink, as he has now been replaced by ex-Firehouse bassist Perry Richardson.

I first came across Stryper not long after the first two albums, ‘The Yellow and Black Attack’ and ‘Solders Under Command’, and even managed to get their 1985 video ‘Live In Japan’ when it was released, but by the time of their third album, ‘To Hell With The Devil’ I felt they were incredibly formulaic and that view has not really changed in the intervening years. Christian preaching lyrics? Check. Hard rock which is melodic but never likely to frighten the faithful? Check. Loads of harmony vocals? Check. Songs which are fairly enjoyable while they are playing but instantly forgettable as soon as they are over? Check and check.

Stryper’s formula has been successful enough over the years for them to reform a few times and keep it going, and there is no doubt that within the mainstream they are the most visible Christian rock band out there. Undoubtedly this will appeal to those who feel that Christians should not listen to any type of secular music, and may even get a few non-believers intrigued, but there is little to really distinguish this from any of their other recent albums. Pleasant enough to listen to, but nothing here to drag me back into playing it again.

KATAKLYSM Unconquered

Album · 2020 · Death Metal
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One thing one notices immediately with this album is the depth and power of the production, which is not at all surprising when one reads the small print and realised that none other than the mighty Colin Richardson has been coaxed into his first death metal album since his retirement. It is hard to believe that this is the fourteenth album from the French-Canadian melodic death metal outfit, and with an incredibly stable line-up (although it has to be noted that since this recording, drummer Oli Beaudoin has left the band to be replaced by James Payne). With two members having been there since the beginning some 30 years ago, in Maurizio Iacono (vocals) and JF Dagenais (guitars), plus bassist Stéphane Barbe has been there for more than 20, there is no wonder that they have focus and know what they want to achieve.

“It’s so aggressive yet at the same time, easy to listen to,” describes Dagenais, and this comes home with the opening number, which apparently was also put out as a single, “The Killshot”. It is massively aggressive, with plenty of downtuned ferocity, yet is amazingly catchy, and this coming together of the two quite different avenues results in something which is deep, dramatic, and intensely powerful. It has been quite a while since I last heard anything from these guys, and the last album I reviewed was 2013’s ‘Waiting For The End To Come’ and they have released two more in between these, and it appears I have been missing out as this is a fun ride from beginning to end. They have long past got past the point of having to prove themselves to anyone, and instead are out to have a blast, and that is exactly what they are doing.

This album does show that they are still continuing to push themselves, with Dagenais saying, “From the ground up, the first demos to the final thing, I didn’t want to have any regrets with this. I wanted to make sure there was nothing left behind, unfinished, no mistakes.” He even employed a 7-string guitar on the album for the very first time, providing that additional element which comes from hitting the chords in a different manner and having additional range. Powerful, and intensely impressive, this is a goodie. 

ENSLAVED Utgard

Album · 2020 · Progressive Metal
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As with virtually every band, Norwegian group Enslaved have been through line-up changes over the years, and indeed they now have a new drummer since the last album in Iver Sandøy, yet founders and childhood friends Ivar Bjørnson (guitars) and Grutle Kjellson (vocals) are still there, as they have been now for some 30 years (the band is completed by Arve Isdal, lead guitar, and Håkon Vinje, keyboards, vocals). They first came to prominence with a split release with Emperor all the way back in 1993, but like Ihsahn, they have now come a long way from those days, although even now they still look back to their roots. They may have been a death metal band at the beginning, but now they are firmly entrenched in a progressive metal vein of their own making.

Vocals switch between clean and gruff; the keyboards provide polish, the drums are all over the place, and the guitars never stop. They are incredibly tight, witness the ending to Homebound, which is chaotic and then suddenly it comes together and ends – one would not expect that unless they were watching the timer run down. There are times when the music is more Viking in its approach, with a feeling of monks in a monastery, others it is almost pop while we also have touches of black metal as well as death, all coming together in a progressive metallic album which sounds at times as if it is different bands, not just one. The pop keyboard introduction to Urjotun could be leading us into pop, and when the New Order-style bass comes in, one could be forgiven for not knowing this was a metal band at all. But gradually the menace makes its presence felt, and it becomes something way more dramatic and frightening.

This is not an album for those who want every song to be in the same vein as the previous one, as these guys are pushing throughout. “We have albums that are steps and we have some that are milestones,” Bjørnson says and Grutle nods in agreement. “I personally think ‘Utgard’ is a milestone”. Only time will tell if they are correct, but for now, Enslaved are refusing to rest on what has gone before and with their 15th studio album are still pushing boundaries of what is expected of them.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 10 months ago in Band Member Revision
    Done 
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in My error on Whitesnake
    Removed as requested - no problem 
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Ministry 'Work for love' and other things
    [QUOTE=UMUR]You are welcome to retag and move those releases to where you think they fit best. I´m not that familiar with that part of Ministry´s disco. Normally I would ask such a question in the relevant sub genre team thread. [/QUOTE]This is an example of where MMA and PA are quite different, in that in PA the band itself is tagged as being a specific sub genre so therefore all albums have to go under that genre, whether they 'fit' or not. To move a band from one sub to another, the 'holding' sub has to vote and agree that they should be moved, and then the 'receiving' sub has to vote to take them in. If they refuse then they stay where they are.This means that MMA has an advantage in that a band and their output can be more correctly tagged, but it can lead to complications. I would personally always post in the relevant sub genre before moving a band, just to check that the team were happy with it. I remember being mortified to see that Thunder were shown as a glam band, but still asked permission before I moved it.Thanks for moving all the Ministry albums - I just went to do that.Jonas - thanks for the TSOS reviews. I was with the band a couple of nights ago and they are really stoked with them, and said wonderful things about you as a writer as well! 

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