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252 reviews/ratings
CRYPTOPSY - Once Was Not Technical Death Metal | review permalink
LED ZEPPELIN - Led Zeppelin III Hard Rock | review permalink
LED ZEPPELIN - Led Zeppelin IV Hard Rock | review permalink
A FOREST OF STARS - Opportunistic Thieves of Spring Atmospheric Black Metal | review permalink
NEUROSIS - Through Silver In Blood Atmospheric Sludge Metal | review permalink
KAYO DOT - Hubardo Avant-garde Metal | review permalink
KAYO DOT - Coffins On Io Non-Metal
MAUDLIN OF THE WELL - Part The Second Non-Metal | review permalink
KAYO DOT - Plastic House On Base Of Sky Non-Metal | review permalink
ASHENSPIRE - Hostile Architecture Avant-garde Metal | review permalink
OPETH - My Arms, Your Hearse Progressive Metal | review permalink
NILE - In Their Darkened Shrines Technical Death Metal | review permalink
RIVERSIDE - Second Life Syndrome Metal Related
MESHUGGAH - Catch Thirtythree Progressive Metal
MESHUGGAH - I Progressive Metal
DECAPITATED - Organic Hallucinosis Technical Death Metal
KATATONIA - The Great Cold Distance Alternative Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Ride the Lightning Thrash Metal
FEN - Epoch Atmospheric Black Metal | review permalink
UNEXPECT - Fables of the Sleepless Empire Avant-garde Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 60 3.27
2 Death Metal 20 3.45
3 Metal Related 19 3.26
4 Black Metal 16 3.88
5 Alternative Metal 13 3.19
6 Atmospheric Black Metal 13 3.65
7 Technical Death Metal 13 3.65
8 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 12 3.92
9 Folk Metal 9 3.44
10 Avant-garde Metal 8 4.38
11 Heavy Metal 7 2.64
12 Thrash Metal 7 3.50
13 Hard Rock 7 3.79
14 Non-Metal 6 3.67
15 Brutal Death Metal 6 3.33
16 Death-Doom Metal 5 2.70
17 Sludge Metal 5 3.10
18 Melodic Death Metal 4 2.88
19 Nu Metal 3 3.00
20 Hardcore Punk 2 4.00
21 Stoner Metal 2 3.50
22 Symphonic Metal 2 3.00
23 Power Metal 2 3.25
24 Technical Thrash Metal 2 3.25
25 Melodic Metalcore 1 3.00
26 NWoBHM 1 3.00
27 Deathcore 1 2.00
28 Depressive Black Metal 1 2.50
29 Goregrind 1 3.00
30 Gothic Metal 1 3.00
31 Heavy Psych 1 2.50
32 Industrial Metal 1 2.00
33 Melodic Black Metal 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

ASHENSPIRE Hostile Architecture

Album · 2022 · Avant-garde Metal
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When you can't see the stars, you stop dreaming of space

For a band to not only reach the bar set for avant-garde metal by Kayo Dot and maudling of the Well, but to also put another brick on this wobbly Jenga tower of a genre, without making it fall apart, is no small achievement. To simultaneously turn the whole thing into a poignant left-wing manifesto borders on a miracle. And yet here we are, looking at a perfectly fine Jenga tower.

Conceptually, Hostile Architecture is a searing critique of late capitalism and its urban manifestations, brutal and classist by design. You will both bang your head and shake your fist at the nearest anti-homeless bench. Musically, it's a festival of masterfully repurposed influences (notably KD and A Forest of Stars) that ends up being way more than the sum of its parts. You will recognize the elements but also appreciate how fresh they sound together. Emotionally, it's a furious protest against injustice, oppression and chauvinism of all kinds. The ferociousness of black metal is given new meaning here and chamber music arrangements provide it with gravity.

Personally, I feel like Hostile Architecture reopened wounds that had already started to scar up with indifference and I feel strangely thankful. The world may be doomed, but music like this is a reminder that social resistance is not only necessary. It can also be beautiful.

CLOAK OF ALTERING I Reached For The Light That Drowned In Your Mouth

Album · 2017 · Black Metal
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Finding one voice

Following the evolution of Mories throughout the years is all the more fascinating on the grounds of his self-imposed obscurity. It's a man driven by a force I wouldn't even dare naming, a musician prolific to the point where it's almost scary. With a talent like that, he could have been big by now, had he been interested in appealing to a larger audience. And yet, the force he's driven by seems to be absolutely and irrevocably self-centered. You and I do not belong in this universe. Listening to Mories channel his demons is like watching a black hole swallow a star - all you can do is look, speechless, and only by keeping a safe distance it is actually possible to catch a faint, terrifying glimpse of what is happening.

I Reached For The Light That Drowned In Your Mouth might be a slightly, ummm, weird name for a black metal record, but this is where Mories finds a single voice for all of his disparate alter egos. Now that I think of this project in hindsight, I feel like it might have been its purpose all along. We know Mories as the twisted mastermind of the ambient-noise oriented Gnaw Their Tongues, where he's at his filthiest and most terrifying. De Magia Veterum is Mories in his primal form, where his seemingly chaotic black metal reaches the heights of technical prowess and structural forward thinking. The latest Seirom album, on the other hand, is where, despite the underlying sense of unease, Mories finds a key to the blissful and gentle. It’s his only truly uplifting and truly non-metal project I know of (Apart from Aderlating, maybe?), but he’s all there with all of his hair-raising relentlessness. And while Cloak of Altering sounds like none of the above, it is, in a way, a fusion of them all.

Seirom’s latest is actually the key to understanding the difference between the new Cloak and the old ones. Founded upon ashes of a discontinued Mories project, Ophiuchus, Cloak of Altering began and continued as an exercise in blurring the seams between the organic and synthetic. This premise, combined with Mories’ insatiable fascination with Swans-esque noise, drone and his tight, exalted songwriting, resulted in a project that felt both extremely experimental and yet driven by emotion. There’s a sense of neurotic urgency to anything Mories does and the new CoA album is no exception. The mood is set within the first 20 seconds with abrasive guitar harmonies heralding the imminent apocalypse. Or maybe howling in memory of one that already happened. This is also the point where the comparison with Seirom becomes inevitable. Cloak of Altering has always felt abstract concept-wise, but its mood was more easily definable. Even though it’s still the same sound, more or less, themes and moods of all the above mentioned projects are fused into one abstract nightmare. Much like Seirom, IRFtLTDiYM feels eerily celestial in a weirdly intimate way. While Seirom’s darkness was implicit, however, the CoA’s latest is outright unsettling, keeping pace with its predecessors. If a celestial being that left paradise to find rest in death were to give its final account of the unfathomable, this would be the way to tell the story.

While a black metal project at heart, Cloak of Altering both solidifies and deconstructs the genre, venturing into territories that not only black metal has barely explored, but music in general rarely dares to go to. With its closest relatives being acts like Jute Gyte and Wold, Cloak of Altering remains thoroughly unique. The last offering from the one-man band might not be as inventive and forward-thinking as some of its predecessors, but it does feel like a natural step forward in Mories' artistic evolution. It’s a complete, fully realized vision of something that eludes comprehension, an unfiltered stream of existential horror expressed on a record from one of the most unique avant-garde metal acts in existence.

GHOST Meliora

Album · 2015 · Heavy Metal
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Is this ABBA?

I know that my review titles tend to be goofy and rarely make much sense, but this time I'll sooner die than let this one be classified as such! Ghost is a Swedish metal band, their sound layered with catchy harmonies, somewhat symphonic in their sound and almost sickeningly melodic. And yet, while it could easily be tagged "pop metal", there's enough ambition, passion and skill poured into this music to make even an irredeemable snob like myself feel no shame in liking this band. Now, take a moment to cross off the word "metal" from the lines above and it could just as well be me talking about ABBA.

Jokes aside, though, what really makes Ghost stand out? After all, there are countless accessible metal bands out there that, while often popular, get little respect from the critics and other, well, people who just can't help spoiling everybody's fun. I believe the secret to Ghost's success lies in them striking a happy medium between being serious about their craft and yet very conscious of its context. Ghost manages to put up an amazing show fueled by their crazy, tongue-in-cheek, sacrilegious image and yet, charmingly unpretentious and cheesy as they are, there's a deeper purpose to all those fireworks. Regardless of whether you're willing to delve deeper into the concepts on display here or not, Meliora's overall sound benefits from this meta-approach. The sound is retro, polished but punchy, themes extremely catchy but often spiced up with some understated excursions into heavy, psych and symphonic prog territories. I, however, especially enjoyed the way Ghost shamelessly turns all the pomp up to eleven with theatrical arrangements reminiscent of The Scorpions, operatic choirs, flowery solos and... God, it's all just so freaking showy! But again, in a good way for the most part thanks to the underlying laid-back attitude the band has toward their art.

As far as mainstream heavy metal is concerned, it doesn't get much better than this. Meliora manages to strengthen all that made Ghost charming in the first place - stylistic diversity, vocal harmonies, pulp-gothic ambiance, solid, hook-based songwriting - and builds upon the concept of "Blue Öyster Cult meets Satan on a pride parade" with bricks made of bones and glitter. It's well-written, obscenely catchy and flows well from the beginning to the end. While it's not exactly my cup of tea, I can't help but enjoy the sound Ghost developed on this record. All in all, if you like old-school stuff in the vein of Kind Diamond or Mercyful Fate, give Meliora a go.


Album · 2014 · Black Metal
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Hellenic wizardry #2

Unlike death metal, black metal has embraced the "post" prefix with open arms as if it were kindling, spawning sub-genres like a freaking rabbit since the late nineties. If black metal were an element, it would be cesium, the most reactive of them all. Successfully combined with post-rock, shoegaze, jazz, electronic, folk and Satan only knows what else, black metal is it when it comes to crossovers. It's all the more admirable when a new act comes around and brings something fresh to the table without the word "post" ever being brought up. And while Hail Spirit Noir do indeed draw from non-metal genres like psychedelic, classic and progressive rock of the 70s, they've managed to carve out a niche of their own.

My very first thought upon my introductory listen to Oi Magoi was "that's what Opeth should have done with their sound". Hail Spirit Noir walk a thin line between the past and the present without ever sounding outright experimental or derivative. That's in part due to the magic of black metal: it helps put stylistic elements out of their context. Black metal is loosely interpreted here, though, and deliberately stripped of its usual ferocity. Oi Magoi is playful and menacing when it needs to be, wrapping its black'n'psy formula in a wicked atmosphere of the 70s dark cabaret and the occult. If you've ever read a horror story by Neil Gaiman, that would be a perfect soundtrack to it. The band provides each song with a catchy main theme but lets each of the in-between sections breathe. Full of left hooks and adventurous trips, Oi Magoi never slips down into pointless experimentation, though. That's how you make things engaging without the usual bloated prog extravaganza. Paradoxically, each seemingly disparate element, from the pleasantly textured clean vocals, raspy growls to carefully chosen synths, contributes to Oi Magoi's consistency.

Slightly longer, punchier and more daring than Pneuma, Oi Magoi founds its glory upon an already excellent concept. Rich in flavors both old and new, Hail Spirit Noir shows a well-founded confidence in their trademark blackened/psychedelic rock sound. What I love most about it, though, is its unwavering devotion to good fun - the album simply oozes cool and it's a hell of a ride each and every time I give it a spin.

NO SALVATION Defiling Verses

Album · 2015 · Death Metal
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Old-school never gets... old?

There's something about the death metal formula that makes it timeless, impervious to trend shifts and the passage of time. Sure, the genre as a whole has evolved quite a bit throughout the years and the very thought of naming all the branches of that big-ass tree makes me squint with my left eye. But hey, no need for post-progressive-technical death metal when there's enough stylistic diversity in old-school American and European death metal to get inspiration from. That's exactly what No Salvation are about. And they nailed that premise to a fucking cross.

Defiling Verses draws inspiration from an impressive array of death metal landmarks and the more I listen to this short LP, the longer the list of those little nods of appreciation is getting. So, let's point out just a few of them. On one hand, an underlying, classic vibe of Death's Leprosy and Morbid Angel's Altars of Madness is immediately noticeable. On the other hand, its more modern and groovy character makes certain passages of Defiling Verses reminiscent of late Bolt Thrower and some more ominously discordant ones (tremolo warning!), of Deicide and Immolation. Let's not forget the elephant in the room, though, Behemoth. While Behemoth themselves are a fairly "recent" guest to the death metal scene, they've managed to carve out an impressive niche with their blackened sound. No Salvation, while much more old-school in their approach to the genre, are clearly infatuated with the Pomeranian satanists ("Coroner's Friend", "Niosący Światło").

All in all, competent songwriting, solid musicianship and some left hooks here and there (that freaking phaser at the end of "Veritas Obscura"!) make me like No Salvation more than I initially thought I would. It's a band that pays homage to their idols without losing track of what made death metal immortal in the first place. And I don't necessarily mean Chuck Schuldiner's death. Get it? Nevermind, I'll see myself out.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 1 year ago in Now -- what are you listening to? V3
    Right now:Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up ThereOn repeat for the past 2 weeks:Ashenspire - Hostile Architecture
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Metal Up Your Ass and all that Jazz Room V2
    I see you're talking about some health related issue? A virus, correct? 
  • Posted more than 2 years ago in Do metal fans have a political leaning?
    As much as I'd love to say I'm centre-left, I'm probably just left  Socially, I'm very progressive, economically, I favor the Swedish model which is somewhat centre-left. I believe in education as a tool in shaping societies, not revolution, though.


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