siLLy puPPy

MMA Special Collaborator · Prog/AG Team
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Favorite Metal Artists

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1390 reviews/ratings
THOUGHT INDUSTRY - Songs for Insects Technical Thrash Metal | review permalink
THOUGHT INDUSTRY - Mods Carve the Pig: Assassins, Toads and God's Flesh Technical Thrash Metal | review permalink
NOKTURNAL MORTUM - Lunar Poetry Symphonic Black Metal | review permalink
CARACH ANGREN - Where The Corpses Sink Forever Symphonic Black Metal | review permalink
GORGUTS - Obscura Technical Death Metal | review permalink
KING CRIMSON - In The Court Of The Crimson King Proto-Metal | review permalink
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace Thrash Metal | review permalink
QUEENSRŸCHE - Operation: Mindcrime Progressive Metal | review permalink
INFECTIOUS GROOVES - The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move... It's the Infectious Grooves Funk Metal | review permalink
BEHEMOTH - Demigod Death Metal | review permalink
KYUSS - Welcome To Sky Valley Stoner Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - ...And Justice for All Thrash Metal | review permalink
SLAYER - Reign in Blood Thrash Metal | review permalink
DARKTHRONE - A Blaze in the Northern Sky Black Metal | review permalink
BROCAS HELM - Black Death US Power Metal | review permalink
BROCAS HELM - Defender of the Crown US Power Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Ron Thal / Hermit Progressive Metal | review permalink
BUMBLEFOOT - Ron Thal / The Adventures Of Bumblefoot Progressive Metal | review permalink
EDGE OF SANITY - Crimson Melodic Death Metal | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Non-Metal 165 3.01
2 Progressive Metal 124 3.93
3 Alternative Metal 124 2.94
4 Avant-garde Metal 96 3.96
5 Hard Rock 95 3.51
6 Black Metal 78 3.68
7 Metal Related 69 3.50
8 Heavy Metal 63 3.79
9 Technical Death Metal 54 3.97
10 Death Metal 46 3.79
11 Thrash Metal 36 3.63
12 Proto-Metal 34 4.00
13 Atmospheric Black Metal 30 3.68
14 Atmospheric Sludge Metal 18 4.08
15 Power Metal 18 3.81
16 Folk Metal 16 3.91
17 Glam Metal 15 3.57
18 Death-Doom Metal 14 3.71
19 Technical Thrash Metal 14 3.79
20 Symphonic Metal 14 3.86
21 Sludge Metal 14 3.79
22 NWoBHM 13 4.15
23 Brutal Death Metal 13 3.50
24 Doom Metal 13 4.04
25 Industrial Metal 13 3.81
26 Hardcore Punk 12 3.38
27 Funk Metal 12 4.17
28 Grindcore 11 3.59
29 Metalcore 10 3.60
30 Symphonic Black Metal 10 4.20
31 War Metal 9 3.44
32 US Power Metal 8 3.63
33 Neoclassical metal 8 3.69
34 Mathcore 8 3.94
35 Melodic Black Metal 8 4.06
36 Groove Metal 8 3.44
37 Depressive Black Metal 8 3.25
38 Deathcore 8 3.44
39 Melodic Death Metal 7 4.00
40 Speed Metal 7 3.50
41 Stoner Metal 7 3.79
42 Gothic Metal 7 3.43
43 Pagan Black Metal 5 4.10
44 Traditional Doom Metal 5 3.60
45 Funeral Doom Metal 5 4.00
46 Drone Metal 5 3.50
47 Goregrind 4 3.13
48 Heavy Alternative Rock 4 3.50
49 Heavy Psych 4 4.13
50 Nu Metal 3 3.33
51 Stoner Rock 2 4.25
52 Deathgrind 2 3.50
53 Crossover Thrash 2 4.75
54 Crust Punk 2 2.75
55 Cybergrind 1 3.50
56 Death 'n' Roll 1 3.50
57 Electronicore 1 2.00
58 Melodic Metalcore 1 4.00
59 Nintendocore 1 3.50
60 Metal Related Genres 1 4.00
61 Pornogrind 1 0.50
62 Rap Metal 1 1.00
63 Trance Metal 1 1.00
64 Viking Metal 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

RING OF FIRE The Oracle

Album · 2002 · Progressive Metal
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RING OF FIRE has been the project of Mark Boals who first appeared as a lead singer / frontman on Yngwie Malmsteen’s third album “Trilogy” in 1986 and although Boals wouldn’t stick around for more than a single album, the experience left a long lasting impression. After leaving Malmsteen he started his own band Billionaires Boyz Club which was a short-lived supergroup which set the tone for Boals’ affinity for gathering virtuoso musicians together to craft super technical metal music. In the the late 90s Boals started releasing solo albums much in the vein of the neoclassical metal that Malmsteen brought to the world in the 80s. After releasing his second album RING OF FIRE, Boals decided to start a band with the same name with keyboardist Vitalij Kuprij and drummer Virgil Donati staying on from the solo albums while George Bellas replaced Tony Macalpine and former Steve Vai bassist Philip Bynoe joining in on bass.

While RING OF FIRE became a band project rather than a solo one, the style of music was virtually the same with high energy technical workouts that showcased the virtuosic chops of all the musicians on board. Somewhat of a hybrid between power metal and progressive metal, THE ORACLE debuted in 2002 and featured twelve tracks that challenges the listener with over 61 minutes of playing time. Right out of the Malmsteen playbook, Boals belts out operatic ear piercing shrieks while George Bellas whizzes up and down the guitar scales at blitzkrieg speeds. In the vein of neoclassical metal, the compositions are steeped in classical music formulaic approaches that allow each musician to shine and show off their chops. Also noteworthy are the keyboard workouts from Vitalij Kuprij who later would join the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Virgil Donati most notably of Planet X who displays his amazing drumming skills which have earned him the accolades as one of metal music’s most refined percussive sensations.

Stylistically THE ORACLE pretty much sticks into an easily classifiable mix of progressive metal with power and neoclassical metal extras. The compositions are fairly uniform in how they are crafted and like many neoclassical metal music pretty much take classical musical scales and metallize them with hefty guitar bombast, double bass drumming and keyboard wizardry reminding me of Dream Theater antics. Boals has one of those falsetto type vocal styles that sounds like his head is going to explode but he competently delivers a highly demanding set of vocal tracks and all the musicians are pretty much the best the world of metal has to offer. The main problem with THE ORACLE as with much neoclassical / power metal is a lack of creativity which leaves this album sounding much like anything Yngwie Malmsteem would have cranked out circa 1988.

For those who love these sorts of technical workouts whizzing around classical infused musical scales and high energy performances that tackle frenetic virtuosity as well as quieter parts, THE ORACLE delivers on all accounts and doesn’t miss a beat as a top notch collection of prog infused neoclassical wankery however at 61 minutes the formula does start to wear thin and the tracks begin to suffer from a stream of monotony that bogs the album down a bit. This is certainly music i can get into from time to time but personally i prefer a married varied stylistic approach that doesn’t rely on one particular methodology for getting the job done. While this album would’ve been a train wreck if the performers weren’t at the top of their game, unfortunately the predictability of tracks keep me from getting overly excited about this one but it will certainly hit the spot when the mood for some flawlessly crafted proggy neoclassical power metal strikes.

FAXED HEAD Uncomfortable But Free

Boxset / Compilation · 1995 · Avant-garde Metal
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When it comes to anything Mr Bungle related you are pretty much assured that it will be both avant-garde in nature and always friggin weird as hell, however some of these projects are much weirder than the others. The Bunglers released their first album in 1991 after the stunning success of Faith No More with lead singer Mike Patton joining the team. Fatih No More became huge and Mr Bungle became an instant cult hit for its genre skipping fusion of sophisticated technicalities in perfect marriage with adolescent potty mouth humor. The world has never been the same and due to the fact that Mr Bungle was signed to the major record label Warner Bros., many have also followed the breadcrumbs into many of these offshoot projects that continue to spawn even in the modern times.

While the universe of Bungle related acts is unfathomably large, the first of these bizarre musical entities was the product of guitarist Trey Spruance and no i’m not talking about his critically acclaimed Secret Chiefs 3 project but rather something much more disturbing, something so wickedly wild and bizarre the only genre tag i can give it is insanty-core! The band FAXED HEAD was so far removed from reality and so over the top in almost every possible way that it is one of those bands that has to be heard to be believed and while most will run away screaming for their mommy in utter horror, a few of us who were dropped on our heads as babies actually dig this shit!

First of all you have to be in on the joke to even remotely understand this psychotic concoction of twisted death metal, frenetic electronic experiments gone wild and avant-garde anguish dished out in mutilated madness. The whole premise of this band existing is a fictitious story that a bunch of glue-sniffing teenagers from Coalinga, CA made a suicide pact that went terribly wrong. The members that go by the McPatrick Head [Gregg Turkington] (vocals), Neck Head [Trey Spruance] (guitar), Jigsaw Puzzle Head [Brandan Kearney] (bass), LaBrea Tar Pits Head [Phil Franklin, aka Washington DC Head] (drums), Fifth Head [James Goode] (electronics), Graph Head (bass) underwent physical reconstruction and mental therapy at the Coalinga Youth Hospice before forming FAXED HEAD.

While Bungle was dazzling the world throughout the 90s with its Zappa infused prog / metal / experimental whatever trilogy of albums, FAXED HEAD lurked deep in the underground attracting only the seekers of the amazingly bizarre and twisted that emerged within the context of the metal music universe. In the beginning FAXED HEAD only released a series of EPs and singles as 7” vinyl releases as well as a split with Breathilizor and a couple appearances on various artists compilations that focused on noisy weird experimental acts. In 1995 the group compiled all the tracks released haphazardly and compiled them onto this one CD titled UNCOMFORTABLE BUT FREE on Amarillo Records. This CD included every track the band had released up to this point with the sole exception of “Bone Cracks” which appeared on the 1994 split with Breahtizor on Eerie Materials Records but for some reason was not included here. This compilation also added a couple unreleased tracks: "Wyoming Hair" and "The Astronaut."

The music from FAXED HEAD’s early years is about as anarchic and chaotic of a freak show as you could possible imagine. This extreme maelstrom of sonic terror consisted of a unique mix of death metal fury, Japanese influenced electronic noise, irritating feedback and high pitched noises that often startle the senses along with bizarre tape recorder sounds freaking the fuck out. These guys really nailed what could be called retardation-core as it really does sound like a bunch of brain dead losers whose perception of music has completely derailed from the world of the sane. Every single aspect about the music on early FAXED HEAD songs are designed to shock and irritate above and beyond the call of duty. However despite this, there are still plenty of catchy hooks, head banging excellence and most of all gut busting humor!

The joke is carried out throughout the lyrics which although mostly undecipherable behind obnoxious grunts, screams and growls are featured in the liner notes with the never-ending hilariousness such as “"I'm never going to leave Coalinga/I love it here; it is my home/Also, I cannot get up/Or my bones will puncture through my skin!” The metal takes on death metal clothing only dressed up in mathcore unpredictability. While some tracks like “Wyoming Hair” actually sound like a real song with a steady beat and melodic riff, many tracks are nothing more than extreme caustic noise such as “Pirelli Deli.” My two faves of this zaniness has to be the combo pack of “The Colors Of Coalinga” and “Show Pride In Coalinga,” the former a lo-fi freeform explosive metal performance of angularity (this could be called metal-in-opposition for sure!) and the latter a ridiculous military marchcore session that mixes high school march music with grindcore.

This is really some of the most disturbing music you can EVER subject yourself to however there is something sadistically beautiful about it and after many years of finding myself returning to this stuff on occasion, it has really gotten under my skin as utterly ingenious as to how this band effectively forged a completely new reality in some parallel universe to craft some of the most wickedly insane humor music since Frank Zappa himself! In effect there is no rhyme or reason to this. Noisy formless metal sections can turn into catchy melodic passages and then frantic electronic noise and avant-garde chaos takes over. While all of the following EPs and singles are represented, they are all mixed up in a way that this album comes across as one huge mind fuck that is only obvious these were different releases with a bit of inquisitive research. I’m not kidding that when i say that Mr Bungle is closer to Barbara Streisand than this chaotic mess that shows you how very very WEIRD this is! There are however moments on Bungle albums where some of these chaotic sound effects can be heard. This is basically the unadulterated concentrated form. Two more actual albums followed.

The origin of the tracks on UNCOMFORTABLE BUT FREE

- Faxed Head 7" - Stomach Ache Records 1992: "Element Of Life," "January's Here," "Rotten Cakes," "McPatrick's Lament," "Big Ol' Cheese," "Bay's Ball/New One's"

- Necrogenometry 7" - Amarillo 1993: "Pantera Lines," "Violence Gone," "Spanish Rice"

- Show Pride In Coalinga 7" - Amarillo 1993: "Show Pride In Coalinga," "The Colors Of Coalinga"

- Tire 7" - LaBrea 1994: "Der Michelint," "Tired," "Time To Retire," "Pirelli Deli”

- Previously Unreleased - "Wyoming Hair" and "The Astronaut.”

- America The Beautiful (various artists compilation) - "Wireless Rattle"

PLASTICBAG FACEMASK Whited Sepulcher

Album · 2019 · Mathcore
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
As 2020 continues and the constant sight of those silly face masks surrounds us no matter where we live in the word (unless we happen to happily live in an isolated commune in fucking Antarctica or something), what better way to celebrate the shitshow that is 2020 than by reviewing this extreme noisy metal duo known as PLASTICBAG FACE MASK which was formed in 2008 in Oakhurst, CA but has been terrorizing Fresno for most of the time since.

Together Patrick "Dr. Lankanotvich" Hogan (drums, synthesizer, vocals) and Jacob "Dr. Jenkins" Lee (guitar, bass, vocals) crank out a set of six headache inducing mathcore tracks that continue their bizarre mix of grindcore, mathcore, sludge metal, deathcore and pretty much whatever the fuck comes to mind. This don’t give a fuck attitude is exactly what sets them apart from the competition but to be honest it’s the nerdy mathcore ping pong ball unpredictability that draws me in.

WHITE SEPULCHER is this duo’s eighth album but at around 23 minutes could possibly fit in with the EPs they’ve released but whatever. It’s fucking core music. This is about making extremely abrasive ear abuse noise and that’s exactly what PLASTICBAG FACE MASK achieves here. With excruciatingly fast tempos, frenetic time signature changes, unthinkable levels of distortion and vocals that sound like some dude getting his dick sawed off, this is a frenetic assault on your sanity with only a very few moments of synthesized atmospheres lingering in the background when the music drops to offer a respite from the brazen bravado.

Where there are many progcore metal bands out there these days ranging from Behold…The Arctopus, Psyopus and Dillinger Escape Plan, PLASTICBAG FACE MASK seems to stand out in its bold experimental approach of just creating a maelstrom of frenetic guitar riffs, a few screeching solos and an incessant time signature frenzy that hops around like an electrocuted monkey. Most vocals are shouted but a few death metal growls jump into the mosh pit. Basically everything on this one is on maximum overdrive for the entire run with only a few ambient outros after the tracks are finished.

While these sorts of firecracker bands usually deliver super short tracks, most of these are over three minutes which gives more time to shape shift the noisemaking shenanigans and conjure up new methodologies for irritating the fuck out of people. Except me. I love this shit. Gimme more muthafuckers! My skin is thick and my ear drums are made of fucking titanium. Oh yeah, bring it on, bitches! This is for the most hardcore MFs out there. Loud, obnoxious, sanity eroding music that pummels away on its own terms. Mathcore with all middle fingers raised with pirate flags attached. And fuck those goddamn worthless masks. They don’t fucking work anyways. Don’t argue with me. I read it on the internets.

APOKATASTASIA Shedding

Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal
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APOKATASTASIA formed in 1998 in the city of Zug, Switzerland which sits due south of the city of Zurich in the northern region of the country. This unique band caught the attention of the prog world back in the early 2000s with its debut demo “Waiting Four” which showcased a unique blend of “Red” era King Crimson guitar riffing only with a much heavier metal attitude with classical and jazz underpinnings of harmonic development and complexities. The main feature of this band’s sound though was by far the instantly ear-catching violin and cello contributions which also brought the prog historian back to the early years of prog which reminded a lot of High Tide’s classic “Sea Shanties” however APOKATASTASIA eschewed any vocal aspects and crafted a wild 30 minute ride of instrumental prog prowess.

While technically “Waiting Four” was a mere demo, the quality of the music and the excellent production guaranteed that anyone interested in this band would consider it a bonafide release since the four tracks never appeared anywhere else. Two years later the band which consisted of Mark Hofstetter (guitar), Matthias Kürsteiner (guitar), Dario Hofstetter (drums) and David Reitz (violin, cello) and later joined by Markus Bach (bass, 2003-present) released its first and so far only album SHEDDING which seems to be the last we’ll ever hear from this band since fifteen years have elapsed since this album’s release. The band started out under the name Radical Moon in the 90s and then took a more metal turns as Schizophriend before adopting the more cryptic moniker APOKATASTASIA which seems to be derived from “apocatastasis” which means the belief that all souls ultimately achieve salvation and are received into heaven.

Continuing in the vein of the debut demo release, APOKATASTASIA expands upon the sounds laid down and crafted a more expansive left field into the world of prog rock with an overall less metallic bombast. SHEDDING reminds me most of early Anekdoten with lush symphonic backdrops that include softer guitar passages alternated with heavy rock energy for contrast but for the most part SHEDDING seems to revolve around the melancholic violin and cello performances that keep this album in a state of depressive classical music mode where parts are inspired by Anton Dvorak’s cello concertos. While predominantly an instrumental album in the footsteps of “Waiting Four,” SHEDDING offers a view vocal utterances which mostly serve as wordless melodies that act as an extra instrument rather than convey any lyrical significance. The exception to this is the bonus track “Empty Flower Vox Edit” which adds growly vocals to the instrumental track first released on the demo.

SHEDDING is one of those intricately designed strolls into prog paradise with hefty compositions that take labyrinthine turns through countless movements that nurture melodic processions which finds dominant violins driving guitars, bass and drums into the progosphere and back. The music is as dark and forbidding as the album cover art implies and while including just enough metal moments to squeak by is really an overall mid tempo KC-Red style rock parade that excels in complex time signature workouts and abrupt changes from pacifying violin rock to metal bombast at the drop of a hat. The album features nine tracks and the first eight tracks from the sound sample “Intro” to the cello-fueled “Nothing” mostly simmer on a mode that emphasizes atmospheric string-driven rock over metal bombast but the final closer “Empty Flower Vox Edit” unleashes the full metal fury with complex prog bombast and metal distortion that reminds me most of Opeth’s earliest offerings. This is a really interesting album that will please those who love that magic grey area where heavier prog rock meets the metal universe. These are advanced level compositions here and only for those who like melodically driven angularity if ya know what i mean!

APOKATASTASIA Waiting Four

Demo · 2003 · Progressive Metal
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It’s been five decades since progressive rock hit the scene and forever changed the limitations of what was considered rock music and while King Crimson may have popularized the style after bands like Pink Floyd and Soft Machine got the ball rolling, the genre didn’t waste any time splitting into myriad directions. One of my favorite early contributors was the UK’s High Tide which took the progressive rock heft of early bands like KC and added heavier doses of early hard rock but more importantly was the first true band to add the violin as a major component of a heavy rock sound. While formerly classical string instruments such as the violin, cello and viola have become instrumental in many forms of prog ever since, in the metal universe they are still a bit obscure.

Bands like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Poland’s Ankh have been a few bands that have mixed the heavier elements of punk and metal with the classical fusion of violin sounds but one more that i’ve only become familiar with recently is APOKATASTASIA which originated in Zug, Switzerland in 1998 founded by Mark Hofstetter (guitar), Matthias Kürsteiner (guitar), Dario Hofstetter (drums) and David Reitz (violin, cello) and later joined by Markus Bach (bass, 2003-present). While not prolific this all-instrumental band has released this debut EP titled WAITING FOUR which came out in 2003 and the full-length “Shedding” which followed two years later. While technically starting out as a mere demo, WAITING FOUR has been considered a true release outright as it’s half hour playing time and excellent production value constitute a really excellent listening experience that provides four tracks not found anywhere else.

This band really delivers the prog goods with King Crimson inspired atonality and meandering complexity that fuses heavy metal guitar riffs and bombast out of the Opeth playbook along with varying softer passages that mix clean guitar sounds with the violin and cello. While the band’s sound comes off initially as a classically infused metal hybrid, it becomes obvious that the world of jazz was a major inspiration in crafting an interesting procession of jazzy prog metal with classical underpinnings. With rich uses of time signature changes, modal complexities and clever mixes of tones and timbres, APOKATASTASIA delivers a nice gloomy mournful mix of feisty prog metal bombast and more lugubrious softer prog rock.

What i love about APOKATASTASIA is that it is the closest thing to High Tide’s classic “Sea Shanties” without really sounding anything like that classic prog release. This is all instrumental for one thing and the composiitons are much more dynamic and varied than that band and also can remind a bit of another band of the same era - East of Eden however this is true metal territory here and when this band puts on its metal hat this is some seriously bombastic guitar driven prog metal that forges some intricate instrumental interplay in a completely different league with an excellent production job that brings this into the modern era. An extremely strong debut album that shouldn’t be missed simply because this falls under the banner of a demo on most databases. This is vibrant prog rock infused metal with a bite and one that has gotten under my skin rather quickly.

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