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301 reviews/ratings
CYNIC - Traced in Air Progressive Metal | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
MR. BUNGLE - Disco Volante Metal Related | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Queensrÿche US Power Metal | review permalink
EXTREME - Extreme II: Pornograffitti Funk Metal | review permalink
ALICE IN CHAINS - Dirt Alternative Metal | review permalink
VAN HALEN - Van Halen Hard Rock | review permalink
OZZY OSBOURNE - Tribute Heavy Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
SYSTEM OF A DOWN - Toxicity Alternative Metal | review permalink
PAIN OF SALVATION - The Perfect Element, Part 1 Progressive Metal | review permalink
WHITESNAKE - Whitesnake Hard Rock | review permalink
MEGADETH - Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? Thrash Metal | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Terria Progressive Metal | review permalink
GUNS N' ROSES - Appetite For Destruction Hard Rock | review permalink
DEVIN TOWNSEND - Ocean Machine: Biomech Progressive Metal | review permalink
FAITH NO MORE - Angel Dust Alternative Metal
SYSTEM OF A DOWN - Mezmerize Alternative Metal
SIEGES EVEN - The Art of Navigating by the Stars Progressive Metal

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 80 3.67
2 Progressive Metal 57 4.04
3 Glam Metal 49 3.19
4 Heavy Metal 25 3.52
5 Thrash Metal 14 3.96
6 Alternative Metal 13 4.12
7 Metal Related 11 3.82
8 Gothic Metal 8 3.25
9 Avant-garde Metal 5 4.20
10 Funk Metal 5 3.90
11 Technical Death Metal 5 4.00
12 Sludge Metal 4 3.88
13 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 4 3.63
14 Groove Metal 3 4.00
15 Neoclassical metal 3 3.83
16 Non-Metal 3 3.50
17 Industrial Metal 2 4.75
18 Heavy Alternative Rock 2 4.50
19 US Power Metal 2 4.25
20 Symphonic Metal 1 4.50
21 Folk Metal 1 3.50
22 Melodic Death Metal 1 5.00
23 Metalcore 1 3.50
24 NWoBHM 1 4.50
25 Power Metal 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews


Album · 2008 · Progressive Metal
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Post Rock Djent Hybrid is Pure Pleasure

Of all the bands to spawn an entire new genre, Meshuggah is that last one I would have picked. I was not a big fan of the first examples I heard of the Djent sound ("Bleed" from obZen) though I certainly recognized there was something new and intense in the music. The hyper precise down-tuned math metal has spread and while I still dislike the version with harsh/screamed lyrics, some of the instrumental versions of Djent are the freshest things happening in music right now.

Cloudkicker is the name for the instrumental djent project of home recording artist BM Sharp. (There are actually several one man projects in the genre). Sharp leans heavily on post-rock ideas and the atmospheric quality melded with brutal riffing makes both sounds better. Cloudkicker's debut, THE DISCOVERY, is in my opinion his best work because of it is the most hybrid. While there are great riffs and furious technique on this album, it is most of all a sonic adventure. It is a scene, it is images, it is MUSIC!!! While a lot of post-rock (and virtually all post-metal) bores me to tears, the riffs add energy to the builds and drops. Conversely, unlike every other piece of metal I've ever listened to, this album virtually never makes me think as a guitar player. And the guitar playing is phenomenal. When I finish this album, I feel like I've been taken on a great journey.

This is a 4+ album that I'm just not quite ready to push into masterpiece rating. But only the Animals as Leaders album is better in the whole genre, and that includes the entire Meshuggah catalog. Nothing even from Sharp himself has matched his debut. Sometimes the freshness of the ideas gives a piece of music a special kind of life and I believe that is the case on THE DISCOVERY.


Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
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Losing Steam, We're Going Down, Mayday!

One man djentleman Ben Sharp, aka Cloudkicker, named most of the songs on this album after lines that might be uttered in the cockpit of crashing plane. While the explosion is not imminent, BEACONS feels like a vessel that's running out of steam. I loved Sharp's first offering, THE DISCOVERY, and he's certainly continued to create some solid music on subsequent EPs and now this, his second full album. But there's something missing. The riffs are actually tighter, the production is a little sharper, but ironically, there's actually less sense of danger on this record than this first. Where the DISCOVERY really seemed to take me on an emotional journey, I often find that BEACONS has played all the way through and I didn't even notice it.

For newcomers to Cloudkicker, don't be scared off. Sharp makes some of the best djent / post- rock fusion out there, and it's free! (well if you want it to be, voluntary pricing). I prefer his work alot to related artist Chimp Spanner, and Sharp has disposed almost completely with most of the djent movement's metalcore leanings. The music is moody and atmospheric, but heavy. It's what post-metal was meant to be, and occasionally approaches. But it's better. The riffs are more interesting, the passages less monotonous (most of the time), and the musicianship obviously very careful. This last element, one of the most specific and common of all the math- metal types, is what really grabs me. There is nothing sloppy here at all, and unfortunately many metal bands delight in their slop.

I've read that BEACONS is actually Sharp's most atmospheric and varied album to date and on very careful listen it is. As is common, as I give closer attention, my inclination is to move my rating from a 2 to a 3. Sharp is still giving us good stuff. He's certainly matured a bit, but the process has robbed as much fire as it has added nuance for this particular listener. Others clearly disagree.

I've made my point. Get THE DISCOVERY first, move forward. If you enjoy that, you'll still get something out of BEACONS.

OPETH Still Life

Album · 1999 · Progressive Metal
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Melodic Progressive Death Metal Concept Album ? Yes!!!

After immersing myself in Opeth over almost 3 years ago, I'd taken a break for awhile. Recently, however, I've been dabbling in harder death and extreme metal, and felt a need to return to some of my old favorites and see what my impression was now. I was completely and totally blown away. Opeth is more harmonically complex, melodically sophisticated, and emotionally expressive than any other metal band of its kind and perhaps ever. STILL LIFE represents the band just reaching full maturity and taking a risk by making a cohesive story / concept album. Though previous albums had consistent themes, STILL LIFE is a death metal tragedy about an exiled man returning home to retrieve his love with typical terrible Greek styled consequences.

In a genre that loves altered minor keys and dissonance, Opeth bandleader Mikael Akerfeldt utilizes harsh harmony like no other. One of Opeth's trademarks is riffing on complex chord shapes rather than power chords and from the brilliant opener "The Moor" on through to the closer "White Cluster" the thick texture of this style puts Opeth's stamp all over the music. Of course the other signature element is the transition from the crushing prog death metal to an acoustic prog with Akerfeldt's ethereal vocals. On this album, the Mikael is really just starting to ramp up the latter part of the Opeth sound. This freshness gives the ballad-y "Benighted" and "Faces of Melinda" a legitimacy that some of the later purely clean Opeth songs lack. In fact, from a songwriting point of view, I don't think any Opeth album is as strong top to bottom as STILL LIFE. I do a lot of mix and match of Opeth tracks on every other album. Not this one.

Of all the labels attached to Opeth, there will arguments against almost all of them except one. This band is clearly prog. Where many Death metal bands use time changes jarringly, few (especially before Opeth's rise in popularity) used seamless changes into complex time with such musical purpose. Opeth also employs epics to great effect, moving the listener through multiple stages of development with completely new musical ideas often appearing seven or eight minutes into a song, as in "Godhead's Lament," "Serenity Painted Death," and most strikingly in "the Moor."

The only criticism I have for this album is that the record is still young. The production has some issues (vocal echoes, etc.) and in fact I like the live version of "Faces of Melinda" a little better. Even more striking is how much Mikael's vocals have improved in the 10 years since this record was released. The Ghost Reveries version of the band would have made the record nearly perfect. Still, this is a minor quibble.

Like it or not, if you want to listen to the cutting edge in metal these days, you have to get used to some harsh vocals. Mikael's are among the best so Opeth is an easy entry point. I still can't say I enjoy them, but after seeing Opeth live, there is no denying their power. Neil Young and Bob Dylan's vocals aren't exactly pleasant either but also have an emotive power once one gets used to them. (Mikael will never be the poet either of these men are, but neither man has produced music 1/10th as complex as Opeth either).

So if you can imagine beautiful death metal alternating multiple time signatures, riffs both crushing and grooving, complex harmony, and medieval balladry all combined into a story- album, you get an idea of the prog-feast that is STILL LIFE. Within metal, this is the definition of 5/5 star album.

DEVIN TOWNSEND Ziltoid The Omniscient

Album · 2007 · Progressive Metal
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Make it Perfect...

Despite being a Devin Townsend fanboy, I had avoided Ziltoid until recently. The concept seemed too over the top, too silly, and though I like the new version of "Hyperdrive," the album just didn't appeal to me. However, I finally got tickets to Devy a few weeks ago and read that he was leaning heavily on the Ziltoid album. I decided to take the plunge so that I'd be familiar with the songs live. And I am so glad I did. Ziltoid may be Devy's best album top to bottom. It's the only album (possible exception Ocean Machine) that when the album's over, I want more.

Over the top humor has been part of Devin's artistic person all the way back to Punky Brewster and the first SYL album, but on Ziltoid he's able to unleash his silliness in its full glory. Part of the to-the-max aspect of this album is that there are sections that are VERY heavy, equaling SYL in many parts. "Ziltoida Attaxx!!!" is heavy riffing, programmed blast beats, and maniacal choruses in a perfect soundtrack to an alien invasion. (Check out the great youtube where this song is matched with the spoof movie "Mars Attacks" which likely helped inspire the album.)

But Ziltoid is not all-intense all-the-time. There are a remarkable variety of moods, often within the same song. By "Solar Winds" and the arrival of Captain Spectacular, the plot of the story starts to wander. But quickly we realize that Ziltoid is Devin's alter ego...the self proclaimed 4th dimensional guitar hero who at his heart is a nerd searching for his place in the universe. The textures and philosophical questions get deeper and more intense until Ziltoid meets the "Omnidimensional Creator" who answers the great query with "You gotta chill man." Like "It's just entertainment folks," in Earth Day, and "Cheeseburger" in the upcoming album Deconstruction, Devy chooses to bring it down to the here and now and reconnect with reality. This is part of why I as the listener, let him get away with such extremes. The humor is always partly directed at himself.

Devy's not the first artist to hide his genius behind a mask. But he may be the first one choose as his mask a puppet of a caffeine-junky alien. When the album climaxes at the end of "Color Your World" with alternating screams of "You are a puppet" and "We are all Puppets" all the angst and raw emotion that fueled SYL is full display. But at this stage is in his career, Devy contrasts this with soaring vocals singing "Stay with Me", matching the "So Beautiful" during N9, and of course the anthemic "Hyperdrive." The final song "The Greys" is a perfect example Devy at his best. Singing a soaring "Sail away for me" over a riff lifted almost directly from Metallica's version of "The Wait," Townsend evokes Enya more than thrash.

In another review, I recommended Accelerated Evolution as the perfect intro to Devy, as it had all of his elements in one album. And it does, but in the most listener-friendly version that is perfect as an introduction to his work. Ziltoid is the full breadth of Devy for the true fanatics of the man. Just as I had my reservations about the album, even now I wouldn't recommend it to listeners who have never heard Devin before.

Obviously, this isn't Terria or Ocean Machine. Both of those albums were created as intentional contrasts to Strapping Young Lad. But at this point in his career, Devy was done with SYL, and was able to integrate the two sides of his personality. And despite what seems like an impossible task, he pulls it off. The result stands as a third masterpiece in Devy's amazing catalog.

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Animals as Leaders

Album · 2009 · Progressive Metal
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The Most Important Metal Album Since....A Very Long Time

Music has taken on a very new look in the internet age. File sharing and mp3 have taken the lion's share of attention during this time, but other factors are making a dramatic impact on how music is created in the new millenium. The first and most obvious development is the evolution of high level home recording platforms. The second is youtube and internet video, which has given young musicians access both to an enormous variety of lessons right in their bedroom, and to each other. Animals as Leaders is, to my ear, the first group to produce a truly revolutionary sound as a result of the evolutionary new territory created by this computer age of music.

Drawing on djent, itself an internet phenomena populated by mainly home recording artists with a liking for math metal pioneers Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders is the solo project of the king of the eight string guitar, engineered by the close runner up. Tosin Obasi is simply an unworldly talent, with mastery of virtually every shred technique under his belt. Using exclusively 7 and 8 string guitars, he has expanded his pallette further by using two handed techniques similar to those of Tony Levin and other Chapman Stick players. Both he and engineer Bulb (Misha Monsoor) have an enormous knowledge base and have devoured and assimilated previous heroes such as Allan Holdsworth, Malmsteen, Vai, and Frank Gambale.

But talent and technique don't make music. It simply deepens and broadens the tools available. What Obasi does on ANIMALS AS LEADERS (unlike Bulb on his project PERIPHERY) is to take the djent platform and then launch to completely new realms. In fact, the album doesn't sound like godfather Meshuggah at all. Instead, it is a kind of heavy math jazz. It is consciously modern, with some sounds seemingly programmed, but actually produced by the guitar technique itself. Like Meshuggah, the music is cut up into a myriad of odd time morsels, making the music seem to flow freely over a bed of continuous eighths or sixteenths. (Not unlike the piano intro to FIRTH OF FIFTH).

The two things that make this music something beyond a technical showcase are energy and beauty. Without a doubt, this music is invigorating. I use it for workouts, I use it to pep me up. In fact, I think anyone with a tolerance for heavy music could enjoy this album without any care for the technical aspects. What's more the jazz elements weave in an out seamlessly, and here is where the beauty enters. There is a true sense of melody and mood. The tapping extravaganza in the opener "Tempting Time" is more of a spacey trip than a showcase, though in that respect it is mindboggling.

The only downside is that Tosin's sound, while overwhelming, can start to lack variety by the end of the album. While one could start on any song and be overwhelmed with the album's power, by the 8th song the listener knows the main ideas of what's going on. There is a nice acoustic break on track 11, "Modern Meat," but there is a bit of samey-ness on the other tracks. But the sound is so rich and powerful, that while this may not be a perfect album, it is without a doubt in my mind a masterpiece.

If you like complex music, get it. If you like metal, get it. If you like guitar, get it. If you like prog, get it. Get it?

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Top 3 Worst Metal album covers!
    Cover art The computer-generated cover art for the album was provided by David Patchett, but he asked to be removed from the credits because he was not satisfied with the result. The version used was actually a prototype provided by Patchett, but the band decided to use it in its incomplete form. Upon close inspection, one can note several of errors: The character on the far right looking out of the picture appears to have a broken neck. The white dog is standing on the snake underneath it. The baby's foot is cutting into the dog and appears more to be suspended in mid-air than sitting on a wolf. The small child character at the front on the left is standing on the other characters foot. The character doing a back-flip on the left of Eddie has a dislocated shoulder, his left hand is also against his right arm instead of on the floor and the back-flipping character's right leg is dislocated.[1]
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Animals as Leaders and Scale the Summit
    Done, ok to close thread....
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in New Feature: Quick Rating
    Well I went hog wild and rated about 180 albums yesterday...slowly I'll add reviews too.


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