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36 reviews/ratings
SOUNDGARDEN - Badmotorfinger Alternative Metal | review permalink
CAR BOMB - Mordial Mathcore | review permalink
CARCASS - Heartwork Melodic Death Metal | review permalink
DEATH - Symbolic Technical Death Metal
IRON MAIDEN - Powerslave NWoBHM
BLACK SABBATH - Paranoid Heavy Metal
LED ZEPPELIN - Led Zeppelin IV Hard Rock
HAKEN - The Mountain Progressive Metal
THE CONTORTIONIST - Language Progressive Metal | review permalink
PERIPHERY - Periphery II : This Time It's Personal Progressive Metal | review permalink
OPETH - Still Life Progressive Metal
JIMI HENDRIX - Axis: Bold As Love Proto-Metal | review permalink
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE - Alive or Just Breathing Melodic Metalcore | review permalink
CAR BOMB - Meta Mathcore | review permalink
CHEVELLE - Niratias Alternative Metal | review permalink
METALLICA - Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
MEGADETH - Rust in Peace Thrash Metal
IRON MAIDEN - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son Heavy Metal
JUDAS PRIEST - Sad Wings Of Destiny Heavy Metal
AT THE GATES - Slaughter of the Soul Melodic Death Metal

See all reviews/ratings

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Progressive Metal 7 4.21
2 Melodic Death Metal 5 3.70
3 Alternative Metal 4 3.50
4 Heavy Metal 3 4.33
5 Technical Death Metal 3 3.67
6 Thrash Metal 3 3.83
7 Mathcore 2 4.50
8 Proto-Metal 2 3.25
9 Black Metal 2 3.25
10 Deathcore 1 1.00
11 Hard Rock 1 5.00
12 Melodic Metalcore 1 4.00
13 Metal Related 1 3.50
14 NWoBHM 1 5.00

Latest Albums Reviews

AT THE GATES The Nightmare Of Being

Album · 2021 · Melodic Death Metal
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While At the Gates' output over the past decade or so since their reunion has undoubtedly been enjoyable, I think all but their die hard fans would agree that it has fallen short of the expectations one would have set for one of the most enduringly influential death metal bands of the 90's. But hey, there are death metal acts far less competent and important that have managed to string together a several decades-long career churning out the same recycled noise. If At the Gates wanted to spend the rest of their career riding the trends that, at the start of it all, were largely of their own making anyway, it would do nothing to tarnish their legacy.

And yet, with the release of The Nightmare of Being, At the Gates have announced to the world that they have no interest in sitting on their laurels and letting the opportunity to keep making worthwhile music this late into their careers slip away.

The Nightmare of Being starts off unassumingly with track 3, the title track, only beginning to tease what would follow. But from the tracks "Garden of Cyrus" through "The Fall into Time," the band strings together arguably the most unique and forward thinking stretch of music of their entire careers with instrumentation and chord progressions you would hardly ever expect to find on a record like this. The progressive ambition caked into these tracks belies a band both confident in their abilities and rife with inspiration. As front man and co-songwriter Tomas Lindberg told Loudwire, bringing in Jonas Stålhammar, a guitarist with a strong prog-rock foundation, to replace founding member Anders Björler enabled the group stretch their wings in ways they would not have previously dared to try.

The album's weakness is that it just doesn't commit enough to this new direction. The record is bookended by fairly standard melo-death fare. Its mesial section stands out, like a juicy and tender piece of meat between coarser cuts - edible but inferior. Still, The Nightmare of Being has succeeded in stoking my excitement for whatever At the Gates has in store for us going forward. How many veteran metal bands can we actually say that about?

ORBIT CULTURE Nija

Album · 2020 · Melodic Death Metal
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In the mid-aughts, Trivium, a metalcore/melo-death band that quickly rose to prominence during the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, at some point began to catch flack for sounding "too much like Metallica." While the group's music was obviously inspired by Metallica, it was vocalist Matt Heafy's clean singing voice's uncanny resemblance to James Hetfield's voice that seems to have invited these comparisons. Why these comparisons invited disdain is anyone's guess. Artists wearing their influences on their sleeves is, in an of itself, not sufficient reason to ridicule them.

This brings us to Orbit Culture, and their latest record Nija, a record that all but spells out its influences on the album sleeve. Metallica, Gojira, and At the Gates sounds are all front and center. And if we're being honest, in somewhat serendipitous fashion, vocalist Niklas Karlsson, kind of sounds a lot like Matt Heafy from Trivium. But by competently and reverently tying these influences together, influences that no modern metal band can really claim to have escaped, Orbit Culture has crafted a near definitive "snapshot" of the state of modern heavy metal. Nija IS the state of heavy metal in 2021 and the state is doing fine... but perhaps a little short on inspiration.

As infectious as some of the riffs can be, the album falls short in those big moments that are supposed to carry a bit more emotional heft. I suppose this is where it would indeed be fair to criticize an artist for being overly dependent on their influences. An authentic emotional response from the audience requires some more authenticity on the part of the artist.

On Nija, Orbit Culture establish themselves as promising young act. Will their next record catapult them to greatness? If they hone in on their unique voice within the framework of their influences, then the answer is a resounding yes!

ENSLAVED Below the Lights

Album · 2003 · Black Metal
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"Progression or evolution is best served if it does not include dismissing either the past elements or the future possibilities. Being all about regression makes music rotten from the inside in the long run, while total futurism tears up roots and make the tree fall," said Ivar Bjørnson, founding member and guitarist of Enslaved, in an interview with Metal Bite when Below the Lights first dropped in 2003. While referring specifically to the philosophy behind the music on the band's latest record, Ivar's comments could easily sum up the raison d'etre of many progressive and avant-garde metal acts leading up to and immediately following the turn of the millennium. This was an era where an open frontier of metal music remained undiscovered and many Nordic acts, Norway's Enslaved included, answered the call of exploration.

Below the Lights does its part in advancing these exploratory efforts by expertly threading together the most haunting elements of mellotron based 70's prog, Viking-inspired folk, and modern black metal. Coupled with an iconic album cover and esoteric lyrics, this is a record that fosters a palpable sense of impenetrable mystery. Who exactly is trapped below that snow covered forest? How does their pain and misery square with the abject euphoric beauty explored on tracks like "The Crossing"? Who exactly is having these mystical visions of impending darkness? I am not equipped to even attempt answering these mysteries. I am content with letting that mystery permeate through the music.

Despite the above praise, I'm still unable to afford this record a perfect rating. As I have mentioned in my reviews in the passed, black metal as a style is, for my own personal taste, a liability. Compared to a death metal growl, black metal vocals are thin and grating. If death metal vocals attempt to capture the power and terror of Satan himself, black metal vocals imitate the sounds of the small imps running around stirring trouble on Satan's behalf. Additionally, black metal guitars and drums are too keen on using tremolo techniques as the foundation of entire passages. "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" could easily have been improved had those tendencies been tamed.

PERIPHERY Periphery II : This Time It's Personal

Album · 2012 · Progressive Metal
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Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal is not just an album, it’s a force of nature. Unlike Periphery I or founding guitarist Misha “Bulb” Mansour’s previous solo work which “merely” explored the possibilities afforded by modern “bedroom” production and djent style riffing, Periphery II actually combines the powers of all six of the group’s visionary and boundary pushing musicians in an effort to redefine what progressive metal was going to be in the 2010’s.

The riffs on this record display brain melting technicality and heaviness. Yet drummer Matt Halpern ensures that the polyrhythmic madness is always firmly grounded in infectious body shaking grooves. Spencer Sotelo’s blend of Randy Blythe style growls and early 2000’s screamo is a staggering display of vocal dexterity and virtuosity. And Jake Bowen’s electronic interludes help piece the disparate parts of the record into a coherent whole. No wonder Loudwire placed this record on their top 25 progressive metal albums of all-time list.

And yet despite the groups undeniable impact and power, Periphery receives more than its fair share of hate from the metal and prog gatekeepers. The inbreds over at Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives refuse to even list Periphery while reviewers on the Prog and MM Archives have actually gone on to insult the intelligence of Periphery fans. But when it comes to art and politics, you’ll always have your reactionary fearful fascists calling out the heresies of pioneers. Thankfully, those people tend to be on the wrong side of history.

THE CONTORTIONIST Language

Album · 2014 · Progressive Metal
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'Language' is an album that is best described as what happens when skilled technical death metal musicians decide to use their powers in service of light. True to their name, The Contortionist crafted an album that contorts passages of ineffable beauty with mind numbing technical heaviness. It would seem the personnel changes at vocals and keyboards during this time enabled The Contortionist to mature their sound and drop any lingering hamminess prevalent in previous releases. Perhaps most importantly, ‘Language’ is the album that most effectively captures everything modern progressive metal acts have been trying to accomplish. ‘Language’ proves that when you have the talent, only your imagination can limit you.

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