Brendan Schroer
MMA Special Collaborator · Prog/AG, Death, Alt
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 10 days ago

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1519 reviews/ratings
CRADLE OF FILTH - Dusk and Her Embrace Symphonic Black Metal
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS - Siamese Dream Heavy Alternative Rock | review permalink
OPETH - Still Life Progressive Metal
CORRUPTED - Paso Inferior Drone Metal
GOJIRA - The Way of All Flesh Death Metal
SYMPHONY X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy Progressive Metal
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
CORONER - No More Color Technical Thrash Metal
KREATOR - Pleasure to Kill Thrash Metal
DREAM THEATER - Images and Words Progressive Metal
CYNIC - Focus Technical Death Metal
CYNIC - Traced in Air Progressive Metal
QUEEN - A Night At The Opera Proto-Metal
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal
KING CRIMSON - Red Proto-Metal
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
PRIMUS - Tales From the Punchbowl Funk Metal
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS - Blood Sugar Sex Magik Non-Metal
FOO FIGHTERS - The Colour and the Shape Heavy Alternative Rock

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Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 151 3.88
2 Hard Rock 130 3.53
3 Non-Metal 119 3.53
4 Thrash Metal 114 3.74
5 Heavy Metal 106 3.53
6 Death Metal 87 3.83
7 Alternative Metal 75 3.63
8 Heavy Alternative Rock 73 3.69
9 Power Metal 58 3.73
10 Metal Related 51 3.83
11 Melodic Death Metal 50 3.68
12 Technical Death Metal 46 3.98
13 Metalcore 42 3.01
14 Nu Metal 40 3.25
15 Deathcore 36 3.39
16 Groove Metal 24 3.27
17 Melodic Metalcore 21 3.62
18 Proto-Metal 21 4.05
19 Hardcore Punk 20 3.85
20 Technical Thrash Metal 19 4.34
21 Mathcore 18 3.97
22 Black Metal 17 4.06
23 US Power Metal 17 3.74
24 Avant-garde Metal 16 4.00
25 Gothic Metal 13 3.69
26 Funk Metal 12 4.04
27 Sludge Metal 12 4.17
28 Symphonic Black Metal 11 4.00
29 Grindcore 11 3.45
30 Symphonic Metal 10 3.55
31 Rap Metal 10 3.75
32 Glam Metal 9 3.44
33 Brutal Death Metal 8 3.94
34 Crossover Thrash 8 3.69
35 Industrial Metal 8 4.06
36 Drone Metal 7 4.29
37 NWoBHM 7 4.14
38 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 6 4.50
39 Speed Metal 5 4.10
40 Traditional Doom Metal 4 4.25
41 Cybergrind 4 4.13
42 Folk Metal 4 4.38
43 Atmospheric Black Metal 3 4.00
44 Melodic Black Metal 3 4.00
45 Heavy Psych 2 4.00
46 Goregrind 2 3.50
47 Death-Doom Metal 2 4.00
48 Stoner Metal 2 4.00
49 Stoner Rock 1 4.00
50 Viking Metal 1 4.00
51 Doom Metal 1 4.50
52 Funeral Doom Metal 1 4.50
53 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

DAVE LOMBARDO Rites of Percussion

Album · 2023 · Metal Related
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To anyone who only knows Dave Lombardo’s work on a surface level, Rites of Percussion may seem like a strange stylistic turn for him to take. The former drummer of Slayer abandoning metal and releasing an experimental, almost ambient record? Crazy. But remember: Lombardo’s been slowly adding more dimensions to his playing over the years, whether that be with the avant-garde group Fantômas or his collaborations with saxophonist and composer John Zorn. So in reality, an album like Rites of Percussion didn’t necessarily come out of the blue. Here’s what Lombardo told NPR regarding the project:

"It's something I've always wanted to do because I've been influenced by so many other drummers and percussionists that weren't metal or thrash, you know? I wanted to express how deep my influence goes with rhythm."

As such, what we get here is essentially one long drum exercise, accompanied by strange, hypnotic sound effects to enhance the overall “vibe”. If you’re looking for any manner of conventional songwriting, you ain’t getting that here. In terms of where Rites of Percussion fits into Lombardo’s discography, I would tie it most closely to his eerie, experimental performance on Fantômas’ Delirium Cordia. But unlike that 74-minute-long behemoth, this record is much more lean and streamlined; just 34 minutes of drumming and odd effects, and that’s about it. Still, with that said, there are a few standout cuts among the general repetition of Rites of Percussion. “Interfearium”, for instance, does away with the drums for most of its runtime, instead opting to let its uncomfortable horror-like atmosphere do the talking; the track is a wonderful exercise in tension and release, as its buildup almost becomes unbearable by the end. “Maunder in Liminality” is another cut that loves to dwell in this uneasy musical setting, as the entrancing drum patterns beget the strange keyboards looming above them.

If there’s any sort of diversity on Rites of Percussion, it comes from just how many drumming styles - as well as how many types of drums - Lombardo could fit into one album. He explores everything from metal to Afro-Cuban jazz to bebop to film scores, and that’s when you realize: this record basically acts as a celebration of everything Lombardo has accomplished over the course of his career. Shades of his work with Slayer, Fantômas, Grip Inc., and Testament can all be found here, all peppered with Lombardo’s Cuban roots. The man is one hell of an accomplished musician, and I really hope Rites of Percussion can serve as a way for the uninitiated to discover just how talented and versatile he is. This is most certainly a niche record - anyone who’s not already a Lombardo fan or drum aficionado may be turned off by it - but it’s a cool one nonetheless. And at only 34 minutes, it’s at just the right length to do its job, experiment with some neat ideas, and get the hell out. If you enjoy Lombardo’s work and want to hear a brief summary of his many, many accomplishments, I highly recommend Rites of Percussion.

ILENKUS The Crossing

Album · 2014 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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A lone man walks into a sea of people. He looks quite unassuming, adorned with a hoodie, jeans, and a pair of headphones. He looks like he’s about to spit some bars to the unsuspecting crowd… but then the unexpected happens. Suddenly, we - and, by association, the people around him - are met with a barrage of piercing screams and aggressive shouts. This man, clearly having balls of steel, has opted not to lip-sync his vocals but instead belt them out at the top of his lungs. The public looks on in equal parts terror and awe, probably wondering if the dude is possessed. It’s an absolute spectacle, to say the least.

What I just described is the video for Ilenkus’ single “Over the Fire, Under the Smoke”, and its chaotic energy is complimented perfectly by the music itself. The Irish outfit’s second album The Crossing is basically the twisted bastard child of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s progressive mathcore and Cult of Luna’s dense atmospheric sludge metal, and the results are pretty breathtaking. Combine technical riffs, blackgaze-esque blast beat sections, incendiary vocals, and contemplative quiet passages, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’ll find here. Much like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Ilenkus are compelling in their ability to come off as controlled and focused while also sounding as utterly vicious as possible. And of course, if we’re gonna talk “vicious”, I need to bring up the individual I was referring to in the first paragraph: Chris Brennan. This guy’s vocals are absolutely savage. His inhuman screaming is an excellent fit for the music, especially during the more “blackened” passages in which he lets loose his most intense wails. This isn’t to say that he uses these vocals all the time - he does opt for cleans during the more reflective moments - but his harsh ones are certainly his most impressive.

Still, the other members rise to the occasion as well. One of the biggest marks in The Crossing’s favor is its diversity, and much of that is attributed to the musicians’ versatility and willingness to experiment. Opener “Devourer” is a perfect example of this, as its unpredictable, turbulent nature makes it both unnerving and exciting - especially when you’re hearing it for the first time. What begins as an all-out barrage on the senses, complete with riffing and drumwork ripped out of the Jane Doe-era Converge playbook, turns into a musical labyrinth that’s equal parts mathy and melodic; hell, the middle section of “Devourer” is so serene and calm that you almost forget just how violent and brutal everything started out. But that’s what I love so much about The Crossing - the fact that these songs really feel like journeys, replete with stimulating twists and turns.

The title track explores these dynamic contrasts even more, and is perhaps the closest thing to post-metal on the entire record. The entire first half is a bleak, doomy Neurosis-esque buildup that merges beauty and bleakness while highlighting the guitarists’ abilities to create atmosphere and intrigue. Brennan, Sam Ellis, and Josh Guyett all contribute to the guitar work found on The Crossing, and if you want a good insight to both their technical prowess and synergy, listen to the title track in its entirety; the way the trio transform the piece from a pensive melodic piece into a tightly-controlled blast of math/sludge fury is impressive as hell. As for drummer Rory Guyett and bassist Robin Van Der Klooster’s collective presence on the record goes, I would refer you to the aforementioned “Over the Fire, Under the Smoke”; it’s the most consistently intense track on The Crossing, and its knotty twists and turns create a wonderful musical playground for the rhythm section to mess around with… most notably, a goddamn black metal section in the middle, in which Guyett gets to show off some killer blastbeats and double bass work.

Yet, as we close things out with “Goodbye Denial”, there’s a strong sense of melancholy. Beneath all the brutality and chaos that pervades much of The Crossing, the underlying vibe is one of decadent, sorrowful beauty - something that even the harsh black metal screams and technically impressive performances can’t fully mask. And this closer is a fitting way to bring it all back home, as even its most vicious moments are imbued with the same desolate aura that defined its quiet intro. Unfortunately, “Goodbye Denial” would also be a fitting title for the band’s last song: after several years of inactivity, Ilenkus finally broke up in 2022, with The Crossing being their final full-length record. It’s a real shame, as I consider this album to be somewhat of a forgotten classic; it absolutely belongs in the same company as Converge or Neurosis’ upper-tier work. And the fact that a band could actually merge such disparate influences as sludge metal and mathcore in the first place? That’s fucking awesome.

AUTOPSY Morbidity Triumphant

Album · 2022 · Death Metal
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Death metal trends may come and go, but Chris Reifert is one of those special musicians you can (almost) always rely on to keep the flame of the old guard alive; after all, we’re talking about the same guy who performed on Death’s classic Scream Bloody Gore and helped spearhead the first wave of the genre. Through thick and thin, Autopsy’s vile brand of death/doom riffery has remained largely unchanged (excepting Shitfun, but let’s not talk about that). If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Just give me some disgusting gutturals, brutal riffs, and stank-face breakdowns, and I’ll be happy. Still, even in the context of Autopsy’s recent string of successes, I get the sense that the boys felt they had a bit more to prove on 2022’s Morbidity Triumphant.

To put it plainly, this is the most energized and inspired the band have sounded in years. The core ingredients of their sound are still as present as ever, but – and I know it sounds a bit trivial – the riffs are just better this time around. Take “Stab the Brain” for instance: the synthesis of brutality and groove here is just undeniable, as the opening salvo of speedy riffage gives way to an infectious doomy swing. And much like any great Autopsy record, there’s just a certain filth and rot to the music that’s palpable through the speakers. The slow, murky intro to “Final Frost” immediately conjures images of decaying zombies rising from the crypt at night, only reinforced by the sickening growls of Reifert and guitarist Eric Cutler. Of course, this doesn’t last too long, as eventually the track transforms into a furious affair with rapid-fire drumwork and nimble fretwork. And this leads me to one of the best aspects of Morbidity Triumphant: how well each disparate section connects with each other.

The band’s “death/doom” tag can be taken quite literally, as some parts are pure old-school death metal and some sections are pure doom metal. However, the connective tissue between these distinct tempo changes is generally butter-smooth. “Born in Blood” is a perfect example of this, as the atmosphere and feel of the song never changes, no matter what pace the band are playing at. You’ve got your funereal opening crawl, a thrashy midsection, and a return to the doom metal at the end; still, the same agonized vocals, grimy guitar tone, and overall adaptability of the musicians prevent each transition from sounding forced or awkward. And while we’re on the subject of the talent on display here, each band member gets plenty of time to shine. Obviously Reifert is still the star of the show, but the dynamic guitar duo of Cutler and Danny Coralles remains highly potent here. Whether it’s the groovy Sabbath-esque riffage of “The Voracious One”, the creepy melodic harmonies on “Flesh Strewn Temple”, or the fierce thrash-laden carnage of “Knife Slice, Axe Chop”, they know how to rise to any occasion or mood the music calls for. Combine that with the solid chemistry in the rhythm section of Reifert and bass newcomer Greg Wilkinson, and these songs are in some damn fine hands.

With all of that said, it’s not like Morbidity Triumphant innovates in any major way. If you didn’t like previous Autopsy records – or old school death metal in general – this will absolutely not change your mind. But with that kind of album cover, were you really expecting there to be any major stylistic changes here from their previous stuff? This is just a brutal, grimy, fun death metal record – simple as that. And while a bit more variety would certainly be welcome on the next album, Autopsy’s familiar formula hasn’t been executed this well in quite some time.


KING'S X Three Sides of One

Album · 2022 · Hard Rock
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If I could sum up the majority of King’s X’s output in one word, I would call it “reliable”. Their signature blend of hard rock, progressive rock/metal, and alternative metal really hasn’t changed much over the years, despite a few experimental releases here and there (Please Come Home… Mr. Bulbous immediately comes to mind). But in all fairness, their sound never really needed to change in the first place; despite only bubbling up beneath the mainstream, you’ll find no shortage of musicians who have praised them over the years. From Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament proclaiming that they invented grunge to Devin Townsend including Gretchen Goes to Nebraska in his list of the “Five Albums That Made Me”, King’s X have garnered a reputation as “your favorite band’s favorite band” for a reason. With that said, the last decade hasn’t exactly been kind to our rock trio: in the time since 2008’s XV, drummer Jerry Gaskill and frontman Doug Pinnick had suffered their share of health issues, including two heart attacks in the former’s case and a lymph node infection in the latter. Combine that with the members’ respective solo projects, and it was understandable that production on Three Sides of One would be a slow and difficult process. But now that it’s finally out, how exactly does it stack up against their previous works?

Right from the get-go, opener “Let It Rain” makes it apparent that these guys haven’t lost a step since their absence. It’s a warm, inviting midtempo rocker with all the spiritual imagery and charismatic vocals that you would typically expect of a King’s X song. You have to give it to Pinnick as well: the dude is in his 70s now, and yet his vocals sound like they did in the band’s early days. His singing manages to range from low vibrato sections to high impassioned wails, as if he’s still exalting the music he heard in “Over My Head” all those years ago. Meanwhile, Ty Tabor is cooking up all sorts of diverse guitar tones and techniques throughout the record; you’ve got the absolutely nasty sludge-influenced intro to “Flood Pt. 1”, the bluesy crunch found in the riffs of high-octane rocker “Give It Up”, the gorgeous clean tones of power ballad “All God’s Children”, and much more. While Pinnick and Gaskill provide an excellent rhythm section as always, it’s Tabor who brings much of the stylistic diversity on Three Sides of One.

What’s especially welcome about the record is the presence of the gospel and soul elements that defined the trio’s best works. “Take the Time”, for instance, is rife with lush vocal harmonies and an overall life-affirming atmosphere; the whole song just exudes feel-good vibes. The aforementioned “All God’s Children” is another good case of this, as even its heavier sections retain the reverent spirit of its subdued acoustic moments; of course, having lovely vocal interplay between Tabor and Pinnick helps too. But if there are any genuine surprises found in Three Sides of One’s tracklist, they’re in the metal side of things; seriously, this record gets startlingly heavy at times. “Flood Pt. 1” and “Swipe Up” are both marked by sludgy downtuned riffs that channel the likes of Alice in Chains or Melvins, although the former does ease up in its verses. Elsewhere on the album, we get the proggy off-kilter riff that introduces “Holidays” and the down-and-dirty southern grooves of “Watcher”, displaying a band who aren’t afraid to express their heavier side in new ways 43 years into their career. However, it would have been nice to have just a few more of such experiments on the record. Much of Three Sides of One is just business as usual for King’s X, the tracklist largely being occupied by midtempo melodic rockers in the group’s traditional style without a ton of surprises; a little dose of unpredictability could have strengthened the experience as a whole.

Still, having a new record by these guys is like hugging an old friend you haven’t seen in years; even after such a long absence, there’s still a warm familiarity you get as a King’s X fan when putting the album on for the first time. The classic Beatles-esque melodies? The soulful vibes? The rock-solid musicianship? The heavy semi-proggy riffs? They’re all here, and all get their due spotlight over the course of the album. Three Sides of One doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any major way, but it serves as a nice continuation of the band’s career after such a long gap between releases; moreover, it’s just incredibly satisfying to see them finally putting out new material again.

OCEANS OF SLUMBER Starlight and Ash

Album · 2022 · Metal Related
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"It’s going to be more experimental." "We’re taking our established sound and expanding it." "This will be our darkest record yet." So many bands make these claims before a new release, only to backpedal and make the exact same album as before. However, upon hearing the first few songs on Starlight and Ash, it became very clear to me that Oceans of Slumber would stay true to their word and do something different this time around. Instead of continuing on with the progressive doom sound that had become their signature, they decided to pare things down and draw inspiration from the very land they were formed upon. Now, I need to make something very clear: this doesn’t mean the sextet have abandoned everything that made them who they are. You still get Cammie Gilbert’s expressive vocals, frequent dynamic shifts, and the same melancholic atmosphere the band have always been known for. However, the way they approach these elements has changed significantly.

So what do I mean by “the very land they were formed upon”? Well, it’s actually very literal: Starlight and Ash takes the members’ Texan roots and brings them closer to the forefront. The death growls and epic song lengths have all but disappeared, making way for lean cuts of southern gothic doom rock – yes, most of the metal has been stripped away on this project as well. Once in a while you’ll get a song like “Star Altar” or “Just a Day”, both of which harken back to the band’s earlier material, but the majority of Starlight and Ash is spent exploring previously uncharted sonic territory. Single “The Lighthouse” was certainly a sign of things to come, marked by an acoustic guitar motif that must have been ripped straight out of an old spaghetti western movie. But other songs go even further to establish the band’s newfound experimentation, such as the hypnotic gothic rock of “The Hanging Tree” and the lovely solo piano piece “The Spring of 21”; these tunes retain Oceans of Slumber’s usual brand of melancholic beauty while taking them into exciting new directions.

The band members themselves have also scaled back their performances, and nowhere is this more important than with our two main songwriters, the spousal duo of Gilbert and drummer Dobber Beverly. Instead of frequently relying on the dramatic belting of the former and the over-the-top drum fills of the latter, both have opted for a more understated approach this time around. In the case of Gilbert, this serves to make the climaxes even more powerful; opener “The Waters Rising”, serves as a prime example, as she finally lets loose midway through the song after two minutes of anxious buildup. Combined with the ever-quickening tempo, it’s a legitimately exciting payoff. Beverly, meanwhile, has revamped his playing style to compliment each song without being too flashy; occasionally you’ll still get overly technical flights of fancy, but they’re not nearly as prominent as before. Of course, I also can’t downplay how effective the shortened song lengths are on Starlight and Ash: despite the relative lack of metal on the record, the tightened song structures and arrangements ironically give the material much more urgency. “The Hanging Tree” and “Hearts of Stone” are just as slow and doomy as what you’ll find on previous records, but because of how much content they pack into just four minutes each, nothing comes across as meandering – a common problem with their earlier work.

With all of that said, there’s still room for improvement. For all the praise I’ve given the group for their willingness to experiment, some of the results don’t quite hit the mark. The cover of “House of the Rising Sun” is probably the worst offender, as it simply seems out of place; in fact, aside from some nice violin work, there’s not much to speak of. The song doesn’t build up to anything particularly interesting, instead opting to remain in generic ballad territory throughout its runtime; if there’s any song on the record that could have benefitted from an explosive climax, it’s this one. Still, I have to commend Oceans of Slumber for even attempting an album like this. I suppose only time will tell whether Starlight and Ash ends up being a transitional record or a one-off experiment, but what we received in the meantime is quite the compelling experience. Even if you’ve been disappointed with the group’s past efforts, I still suggest giving this one a try; it might just convert you.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 8 months ago in New Youtube Channel - Cocoon Master Brendan
    Haven't posted on this thread in a while, but I was super proud of my new video. I finally put out my very first video essay, with full voiceover and script Necrotica2023-08-16 16:56:10
  • Posted 9 months ago in New Youtube Channel - Cocoon Master Brendan
    [QUOTE=siLLy puPPy]I have two channels coming up. One discussing occult and esoteric subjects and another reviewing music. I've had some set backs like health issues this year so delayed big time. Looks forward to hearing your views, Brendan[/QUOTE] Sounds good! I'm looking forward to checking out your channels Also, my next video is going be much more topical: a review of the new Corey Taylor single... gotta rack up those views and subs somehow  Plus, I've got a lot of thoughts on Corey's overexposure in modern metal, so it'll allow me to get those takes out there as well 
  • Posted 9 months ago in New Youtube Channel - Cocoon Master Brendan
    Thanks, I appreciate it! I'm trying to go for a conversational tone in my videos, as if I were talking to a friend about the subject 


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