Brendan Schroer
MMA Special Collaborator · Prog/AG, Death, Alt
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 5 hours ago

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1396 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 Link Death Metal
SYMPHONY X - The Divine Wings Of Tragedy Progressive Metal
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
KREATOR - Pleasure to Kill Thrash Metal
DREAM THEATER - Images and Words Progressive Metal
ALICE IN CHAINS - Dirt Alternative Metal
QUEEN - A Night At The Opera Proto-Metal
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal
KAMELOT - The Black Halo Power 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
L7 - Bricks Are Heavy Heavy Alternative Rock | review permalink
RUSH - Hemispheres Hard Rock
RUSH - Permanent Waves Hard Rock

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 125 3.81
2 Non-Metal 114 3.50
3 Hard Rock 110 3.55
4 Thrash Metal 108 3.75
5 Heavy Metal 100 3.47
6 Death Metal 82 3.82
7 Heavy Alternative Rock 81 3.65
8 Alternative Metal 73 3.69
9 Power Metal 58 3.69
10 Technical Death Metal 43 3.86
11 Melodic Death Metal 43 3.62
12 Metalcore 40 3.00
13 Nu Metal 37 3.30
14 Deathcore 34 3.35
15 Metal Related 33 3.92
16 Proto-Metal 21 3.95
17 Hardcore Punk 19 3.84
18 Groove Metal 18 3.25
19 Technical Thrash Metal 18 4.28
20 US Power Metal 16 3.75
21 Mathcore 16 3.94
22 Black Metal 16 4.06
23 Melodic Metalcore 15 3.73
24 Avant-garde Metal 13 4.04
25 Funk Metal 12 4.04
26 Gothic Metal 12 3.71
27 Sludge Metal 12 4.17
28 Symphonic Black Metal 11 4.00
29 Rap Metal 10 3.75
30 Grindcore 10 3.35
31 Glam Metal 9 3.44
32 Symphonic Metal 9 3.67
33 Industrial Metal 8 4.06
34 Brutal Death Metal 8 3.88
35 Crossover Thrash 8 3.69
36 Drone Metal 7 4.29
37 NWoBHM 7 3.86
38 Speed Metal 5 4.10
39 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 5 4.40
40 Folk Metal 4 4.38
41 Cybergrind 4 4.13
42 Traditional Doom Metal 4 4.25
43 Melodic Black Metal 3 4.00
44 Heavy Psych 2 4.00
45 Goregrind 2 3.50
46 Death-Doom Metal 2 4.00
47 Atmospheric Black Metal 2 4.00
48 Stoner Metal 2 4.00
49 Stoner Rock 1 4.00
50 Viking Metal 1 4.00
51 Crust Punk 1 4.00
52 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50
53 Funeral Doom Metal 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

THOU The Helm Of Sorrow (with Emma Ruth Rundle)

EP · 2021 · Sludge Metal
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Something I’ve always loved about Emma Ruth Rundle is her versatility and willingness to do whatever the hell she wants musically. She's done everything from ambient to folk to doom to sludge to post rock to just about everything in between, and pretty much every project she’s brought her style to has flourished and succeeded in its own way. Whether it be her unique guitar work in post-rock group Red Sparowes or her more mellow folk-laden solo work, her greatest idiosyncrasy as a songwriter is the fact that her career never becomes static. Case in point: collaborating with Thou. On paper, it seems like a strange combination; I can’t think of a band Rundle has worked with that’s more crushing and intense than Thou, and you’d almost expect the latter’s sludgy riffs to be at odds with her singing and playing style. But such is not the case, as the “beauty-meets-brutality” aesthetic is exactly what makes this project work.

The Helm of Sorrow is an excellent continuation of the sound Rundle and Thou built together with last year’s May Our Chambers Be Full, still keeping with the latter’s melding of sorrow and intensity. The biggest thing that this collaboration benefits from is the members’ keen sense of dynamics; the music is meticulously composed to account for all the right emotional peaks and valleys, as is important for a lot of doom and post metal. In fact, opener “Orphan Limbs” is almost entirely based around Rundle singing cleanly over soft droning passages, whose guitar is reminiscent of Red House Painters’ brand of slowcore (Down Colorful Hill in particular). Only at roughly the last minute does the band erupt in a volcano of steamrolling guitars and shrieking vocals, and the long buildup just heightens the resonance of the payoff. This is the first time on the entire album we hear this level of intensity, and the slow build within the grim ambiance effectively keeps you on edge the whole time. But this isn’t the only way the dynamics of the record are experimented; “Crone Dance” is pretty much unceasing in its ferocity, and yet Rundle’s lovely vocal inflections add a strange melodicism to such an unrelenting series of sludge riffs. It helps, too, that the guitar tone is absolutely incredible here; it strikes a wonderfully odd middle ground between violent and textured, so you get something that’s equal parts harsh and compelling. And when Rundle and Bryan Funck start singing together on the remaining two tracks “Recurrence” and “Hollywood" (the latter being a Cranberries cover), it starts bringing to mind a certain approach that quickly got run into the ground in a lot of gothic metal: the “beauty-and-the-beast” approach. But I find there’s a difference here, as it feels like it’s done much more in service to the atmosphere rather than to be gimmicky. The downcast riffs are constantly emitting a sense of despair while the mix of clean and harsh vocals brings that perfect balance of sadness and anger; it really feels like I’m listening to “She Painted Fire Across the Skyline Pt. 1” by Agalloch again for the first time.

At this point, it surprises me a bit that Emma Ruth Rundle hasn’t been fully brought onboard as a member of Thou yet. Their respective approaches to these records seem meant for each other, and it’s a wonderful feeling when styles that are normally meant to clash can be brought together so beautifully. Let’s hope we can get another full-length of this kind of music, because 21 minutes - even for an EP - simply feels too short for how great the material is.


Album · 1999 · Mathcore
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Calculating Infinity is the perfect example of an album that takes the rulebook of its genre(s) and throws it out completely. It’s the flawless melding of brutality and sophistication, of anger and despair, of hardcore euphoria and jazz-driven mathematics. And the members of The Dillinger Escape Plan were certainly aware of what they were doing too. Guitarist and figurehead Ben Weinman was once quoted as saying on The Independent:

"Calculating Infinity was us effectively ripping up the music theory book; if someone said 'don't harmonise with a second, it just sounds out of tune', then every single lead we did, we'd harmonise with a second. It sounded disgusting, but we did it".

This music is controlled rage, but just because it’s controlled doesn’t mean it’s sterile or edgeless. The complex, labyrinthine arrangements are given plenty of vocal ammunition through Dimitri Minakakis’ tortured, chilling screams. And I’ll certainly give the band credit: they don’t mess around when it comes to storming the gate early. “Sugar Coated Sour” is both a phenomenal thesis statement of the album’s sound and practically a war cry for any listener interested in joining the band for this unique event. The dissonant guitar harmonies, impossibly precise drumkit grinding, and furious wailing are incredible markers of what you’ll be hearing throughout this brief experience. About 90% of Calculating Infinity is a mixture of blinding speeds, jaw-dropping technical prowess, and the rare moment of unsettling reflection. Those calmer sections are a great way for the band to show their vast range of influences as well, such as the incredible polyrhythmic prog-oriented bridge of “43% Burnt” or the avant-jazz chord progressions of the slow melodic (?) section of “The Running Board.” Even more curious are the few interludes that mark the record, leaning more on the avant-garde side of its identity. The title track and “*#..” are enjoyable Meshuggah-esque ditties that rely on strange rhythms and little diminished guitar “pops,” while “Weekend Sex Change” combines sampling, depressive guitar melodies, and incredible drum soloing into one fascinating fusion.

The most impressive thing about Calculating Infinity is that both sides of its bipolar personality are so natural and well-represented. Many of us are aware of the various rumors surrounding the album’s recording, most famously the decision to roll dice to determine each time signature. But it’s strange to think that for something so, ahem, “calculated,” that every bit of hardcore aggression and raw emotion can still come out in full force. Just listen to that utterly insane intro to “Jim Fear.” It doesn’t give us a moment’s notice to prepare for the full-on assault of scorching fretwork and deranged screams, but everything manages to be very planned and pre-staged all the same. That whole song really comes together when you reach the next section and hear the complex runs across the fretboard in unison with the rabid drums, and that concept of “controlled anarchy” comes into play. Wanna know why it all works? Because the insane technicality and the angular “prog-meets-punk” riffing ensure that each emotional catharsis is earned. The Dillinger Escape Plan somehow have the ability to turn technical prowess into atmosphere, weaving in and out of disturbing musical passages; Dimitri is simply icing on the cake with the chaos he spews over it all. But each emotional release works because the band members are incredibly skilled at building us up to those moments. Much like Converge’s Jane Doe, there’s a respect and care that’s given to each weird transition and tempo shift despite the hell being unleashed on top of the songwriting.

At the end of the day, Calculating Infinity is simply a mesmerizing paradox; it combines mathcore, hardcore punk, free jazz, avant-garde metal, and progressive metal, and somehow manages to treat them all as equals. If you want sophisticated songwriting and complex instrumentals, this album is essential. And if you just want to fuck everyone up in the moshpit, then it’s still essential.

PERDITION TEMPLE Sacraments Of Descension

Album · 2020 · Death Metal
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When it comes to blackened death metal, Angelcorpse usually aren't too far behind Behemoth in terms of popularity and notoriety. It makes sense too; their discography was incredibly consistent and reliable, with not a bad album in the bunch. Thick riffs, hard hitting drumming, and a clear-yet-cavernous production were the hallmarks of their work, most notably their figurehead Gene Palubicki. The guitarist and vocalist applied his trademark sound with Angelcorpse to a number of other projects he was involved with, but Perdition Temple seems to be the most promising of these groups. And if Sacraments of Descension is anything to go by, then it seems as though I've been missing out on some really strong death metal albums released under the Palubicki banner.

What you get with this album is pretty much what you'd expect from an Angelcorpse album: relentless riffing, intricately written guitar leads, and black metal-inspired tremelo picking. It's predictable yet incredibly satisfying, and every song packs a familiar yet impactful punch. The production is such that you can hear every little note being played while still respecting a certain degree of rawness; this is especially evident in the blastbeat portions, which raise the intensity while letting you marvel at the technical abilities of the musicians. Riff-wise, there's a lot of Morbid Angel and Demilich influence on display, most notably Covenant-era Morbid Angel. And while the album lacks in the variety department, it's also a short affair and doesn't wear out its welcome over time. However, there are a few songs I'd like to highlight as particular standouts: "Eternal Mountain" and "Antichrist." The former is defined by its more progressive nature, boasting several off-time and off-kilter riffs (lots of 7/4-time in particular) separated by the band's usual brand of intensity. The latter is probably my favorite instance of atmosphere on the record, slowing down midway to feature some echo-laden growls that remind one of the hellish vibe featured in Immolation's landmark record Close to a World Below.

Sacraments of Descension isn't anything groundbreaking by any means, and the songs do tend to blend together after a while. However, if you're in the mood for a death metal record that's ceaselessly aggressive and never lets up, you could do much worse than this. I haven't followed Gene Palubicki's work too closely since the Angelcorpse days, but maybe it's time that I started playing catch-up.

TOOL Fear Inoculum

Album · 2019 · Progressive Metal
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Tool’s fifth studio album is one of those projects that I don’t think most people had much faith in. Over a decade was spent waiting for it, getting to the point where several memes online mocked the band for their inability to stay on the same page and get the record done. I get the feeling many of us thought it would go the way of Half-Life 3 and become the musical version of vaporware, and the constant rumor mill from the band and media wasn’t convincing people otherwise. And yet… somehow, we actually made it. Fear Inoculum is out, and critics are already stumbling over each other giving the album (mostly) rapturous praise. Most of the public seems onboard for it too, giving kudos to the band for not missing a beat and swinging back stronger than ever. For the most part, I can agree with this.

Fear Inoculum is not the easiest experience to dive into; it runs at 80 minutes (86 if you’re talking about the digital version) across only 7 tracks, which means almost every song is over 10 minutes. That’s a lot to digest, and many of these songs run at very slow, almost doomlike paces. But, as usual for a latter-day Tool album, there’s plenty of dense progressive metal to sink your teeth into. You’ll find all the typical Lateralus-era stuff here; tribal rhythms, post-metal buildups and payoffs, subtle polyrhythms, and frequent dynamic ebbs and flows all make their way on this record. However, it’s important to note that the buildups are much more lengthy and detailed this time around. In fact, I’m a little shocked that the title track was able to become a charting single, given the fact that the song doesn’t really get off the ground until about halfway into its 10-minute runtime. I suppose that’s the power of hype and expectations after such a long wait from the band’s devoted fanbase! Anyway, these long runtimes work better for some songs than others; “Pneuma” and “Invincible” are fantastic examples of balancing their buildups and payoffs perfectly for emotional effect, especially in the way the latter combines triumph and resignation to flesh out the story of an “aging warrior” (see also: Maynard Keenan himself). The former presents itself in a darker and almost ritualistic manner, with Maynard repeating several lines over and over while the stuttering rhythms are constantly throwing you off in the process. Every time the heavy Drop-D riff comes in, it’s a welcome release from the tension.

The band members themselves have clearly grown over the years, and they sound even more comfortable than ever when flexing their virtuoso muscles. However, one thing that I’ve always loved about Tool over the years is that they never really beat you over the head with their instrumental prowess, instead preferring to showcase their skills in more subtle ways; Fear Inoculum definitely sticks to this. Instead of doing a giant shred solo, Adam Jones might lay down some simple guitar chords that are played in a slightly off-kilter or wonky manner, such as he often does in album highlight “7empest.” The entire song is like a giant experiment where the band members all try and see how many cool things they can do the metallic framework they’re given, and the outcome is just phenomenal. As far as vocals go, Maynard is more reserved and introspective this time around; but given the structures and dynamics of the songs here, that’s the perfect route to go. Plus, given his age, he still sounds excellent. Still, I don’t think many people are going to doubt that this is absolutely a rhythm section-centric record. Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey absolutely tear up this album, providing both an incredible backbone and an infinite stream of ways that Adam Jones could work his guitar magic over them. “Chocolate Chip Trip” might be the most inconsequential and skippable song on the album in the grand scheme of things, but I still don’t advise missing out on that sweet drum solo that Carey lays down on it. It’s one of the great highlights of his recorded output.

So what’s wrong exactly? Well, just one thing… and it’s a pretty important thing. Let me start this off with a movie analogy: have you watched an actor that you can only see as that actor and not a character they’re playing? A big example in my case is Tom Cruise. Every time I see him in a role, I just see Tom Cruise; I don’t see a character, because Cruise just kinda overtakes the role itself. It’s a really frustrating situation, because it constantly sucks me out of the immersion of a film when I can constantly see the “man behind the curtain.” And unfortunately, Tool fall right into this trap. One of the things that made Lateralus and even 10,000 Days so great is that there was always that additional instrumentation that fleshed out the atmosphere of those records. There were always Jones’ guitar pedals and a bunch of warbling industrial effects lending to the dark, eerie vibe Tool succeeded so well at crafting. Sadly, on Fear Inoculum I just hear 4 guys jamming out in the studio. The atmosphere is so empty and sparse on this album, and it doesn’t help that there usually aren’t many extra synthesizers or pedals to spice things up. That’s not to say the entire record is like this; “Pneuma” has an excellent middle section with a buzzing electronic effect alongside some beautiful clean guitar melodies from Jones, and of course the tribal drumming in the majority of the title track is always welcome. But considering this is Tool’s longest and most dense album, it would have been nicer to hear some more little touches to provide extra detail and texture to the experience.

Still, I’m really glad Fear Inoculum is finally here. I’m glad that we’re finally able to let all the old memes and jokes about Tool’s constant delays finally die. And unlike Duke Nukem Forever, we have a delayed product that’s actually incredibly solid and worth the time it took to make it. If you enjoyed Tool’s prog era, you’ll most likely love what they did here. Fear Inoculum is the logical outcome of the band’s constant flirtation with complexities and intricacies over the years, as well as how much they’d grown personally and creatively to get to this point in their lives. I can’t say that this is a better album than Lateralus - which I still consider to be the band’s gold standard - but it’s definitely my second favorite of theirs so far. There’s just too much ambition and quality songcraft here to pass up or ignore. So was Fear Inoculum worth the wait? I wholeheartedly say: yes.

NEVERMORE Dreaming Neon Black

Album · 1999 · Thrash Metal
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Even more than any other Nevermore album, Dreaming Neon Black always seemed to have a darkness and intensity that was all its own. This is some potent, dense thrash that fully revels in its progressive nature, as well as the twisted story the late Warrel Dane weaves along the way. The concept, according to Dane himself, deals with a man who gradually succumbs to insanity after he loses his lover to a religious cult. Eventually this insanity becomes all sorts of various tragedies surrounding our main character. Sounds happy, right? Believe me, though, this stuff is the perfect base for the incredibly creepy and depressing moods the music itself creates. You really feel the conviction of the band right from the opening thrasher (aside from the intro) "Beyond Within," which seamlessly blends the intense drive of Jeff Loomis' riffing with a variety of tempo shifts for every mood the song wants to convey. And there are several; from one song alone, we get rage, desperation, anxiety, and futility all in this track. Simply put, this is the most emotional album Nevermore ever put out.

And the greatest thing about this is that there's so much sincerity and even beauty lurking in the record's uninviting outer shell. If I were to pick Dreaming Neon Black's centerpiece in this regard, it's definitely the bleak title track. This is one of the rare ballads we get to hear from the band, and the doomy chorus constantly gives off the feeling of drowning in Dane's personal abyss. Even the faster numbers on the album usually exhibit some interesting experiments that further the atmosphere, such as the wonderful classical guitar leads that kick off "No More Will" or the bizarrely off-kilter rhythms and atonal guitar chugs that define how uncomfortable the mood of "The Death of Passion" is. Even more interesting are the softer segments, such as the strange note-bending in "All Play Dead" or the minimalist clean guitar that closes the album with "Forever." More traditional Nevermore numbers come in the form of the straightforward melodic thrash of "I Am the Dog" and the intricately performed media-bashing prog/thrash combo heard in "Poison Godmachine." But even then, these still serve to advance the story and inject their own form of energy into a deeply affecting piece of metal music. Dreaming Neon Black is the most consistent Nevermore album from a songwriting standpoint, and it also happens be the most emotionally resonant one at the same time. How much more could you want out of one of the most impressive metal bands of both the 90s and 2000s?

~Rest in peace, Warrel Dane. 1961-2017~

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 1 year ago in The Beatles (Proto-Metal)
    The whole Sabbath vs. Priest debate based on blues roots reminds me a lot of the debate regarding the origins of death metal from thrash roots. I think the answer varies from person to person. I know many people consider Possessed's Seven Churches to be the first death metal record, but are those people comfortable with that answer when considering how much thrash is present on the album? I think it comes down to a difference of which artists connected the dots vs. which artists crystalized those innovative elements into a new concoction. If we're going with "connect the dots" albums, then Seven Churches is the first for me. If we're talking about "shedding the old elements" then Altars of Madness would probably be my ground zero.That goes back to the Sabbath/Priest debate. If you don't mind a little blues and hard rock still being involved in metal, Sabbath could be ground zero. But if you think the answer lies in who shed those old roots, then Sabbath would be proto-metal and Priest would be the first full-fledged metal band. Me personally, I go with Sabbath as the first one because I believe they took out enough of those old sounds to stand out as a new creation back in the day.
  • Posted 1 year ago in The Beatles (Proto-Metal)
    [QUOTE=siLLy puPPy]We need to remember that this IS a metal site after all and that all these fringe extras are selected for different reasons that someone deemed relevant. Personally i've never heard a Link Wray song that i considered metal but i'm not on expert on his music by any means, only heard a greatest hits or two.[/QUOTE] I will say, stuff like this is a big part of why I prefer MMA to Encyclopedia Metallum. Unlike Metallum, which has a much more narrow point of view and constantly fights over what's "true metal" or not, MMA is a lot more welcome to fringe artists that help round out the database in a meaningful way. Those fringe bands may not be 100% metal, but - whether by contribution to the genre or by having certain influences FROM the genre - they can still be recognized in a metal context and judged within the margins of the style and culture. Being honest, I've always been irritated at Metallum's unwillingness to include bands like Between the Buried and Me and Avenged Sevenfold (the quality of those bands notwithstanding) just because of elitists who think the bands are "ruining" their precious genre. Whether or not you enjoy those bands, it's pretty indisputable that they can be objectively considered metal bands (even extreme metal in the former's case)
  • Posted 1 year ago in The Beatles (Proto-Metal)
    lol, I didn't realize Link Wray's on the site. I'm not sure I agree with that inclusion 


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