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Instead of starting a million threads for different albums (since I love to write reviews), I'm gonna keep it all right here on a nice and tidy spot.  I think it would be a good way to see my own progress as a metalhead.  I'm gonna start with a couple of Chasm reviews.

Feel free to post commentary if you want.  I'm more than willing to discuss each other's opinions.

 

The Chasm - Awaiting the Day of Liberation Demo (1993)

Genre: Death Metal

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I'm a total noob to The Chasm, so I'm starting from the ground up with them.  I knew this demo wouldn't get me worked up the way the classics eventually will, but it's a little piece of history, right?

I've heard a few different early death metal demos like Darkthrone's Goatlord, Fear Facotry 91 and Demoted's Back to the Grave.  Each one was exactly what I expected: poor production getting in the way of cheaply written songs reaching whatever full potential they had.   Awaiting the Day was a bit different, though.  There were some early traces of actual songwriting and riffage in the first two tracks, and I was hoping the rest of the album would be the same way.  However, the third track (Reality) went for a doomier sound and unfortunately, this wasn't high-quality doom.  If anything, it felt like it was filler which belonged on a different album.  The fourth track (Gardens of the Blind) brought some of the death sound back, but it wasn't enough to keep the album interesting in its short second-half.  If you're a death metal historian, you should get a little enjoyment out of this, especially if you're a Chasm fan.  Otherwise, it's not really necessary to hear.

67/100.

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The Chasm - Procreation of the Inner Temple (1994)

Genre: Death Metal, Death Doom Metal

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The one that started it all, right?  Well, yes and no.  There was no instant success with this one, but they showed some real promise here, since a couple of the songs actually kick major ass.  At a time when genres didn't have to be combined, the influence of early doom metal is pretty apparent here.  And while that influence would be discarded when the new stuff came out (as I read about), this is still worth listening to for the band's history alone.

The key thing about this album is that it seems to follow up where the demo left off: mingling death metal with doom metal, and switching between the two.  The demo wasn't very consistent with that, but this decent debut combines the two seamlessly, especially concerning Honoris Lux Infinitus, which is one of the better tracks.  The Day of Liberation adds a layer of prog and carries some of the best riffs on the album.  Easily my favorite song on it.  The album even revives the demo track The Cosmos Within, which was a decent song on its own in the demo, but with slightly improved production, the song's better.

The album isn't without its flaws.  Early on, "Confessions and a Strange Anxiety" started to bore me.  The riffs just weren't good enough to keep its hold on me.  So sometimes the riffs aren't good enough.  That, and the album isn't super-heavy by any means.  The dark atmosphere can possibly make up for that, though, not in terms of quality but in being playable.  And when songs get more progressive, they either pretty hit or miss, like the difference between The Day of Liberation and the atmospheric Lonely Walker, which are side-by-side.

Problems aside, I had fun with this one and I know if it had come out just now, or if it was 1994 and this had just came out, I'd find myself eager for the next album.  It's said that this is their worst album, but that's only a good thing.  That means the whole discography is worth listening to, especially if we've got such a high-quality song on the debut as The Day of Liberation.

73/100.

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When I've got a free Sunday and I just wanna relax at home... I put on death metal! :P  Here are three more reviews for The Chasm.

 

The Chasm – From the Lost Years (1996)

Genre: Death Metal, Death Doom Metal

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Two years beforehand, The Chasm released a fairtly impressive debut which had a little trouble balancing the death and doom atmospheres together, but still provided a sense of entertainment. We get much of the same on the follow-up, From the Lost Years, with its own strengths and weaknesses. The consensus is that this album is an improvement, but I'm not so sure.

I was not really impressed with the opener, The Gravefields. One of the major riffs was just going, nuh-NUH nuh-NUH nuh-NUH nuh-NUH, and it almost got annoying. Secret Wings of Temptation was a step in the right direction with a successfully progressive structure, and the doom elements were improved on as well, being a more serious piece of music rather than a simple genre-track opener. After these first two tracks, however, the focus of the balance between the album's three major elements is cranked up to 10, and the production flaws are largely made up for. However, since these songs are so long, they run the risk of getting boring. Once the balance kicks in, there are very few surprises left.

And... that's all I really have to say about it. If you're a huge death metal fan, then I imagine the fairly progressive structure should be enough to satisfy you for the 70-minute runtime. But in my honest opinion, this should've been cut to about half of it's length, because there are some real strengths of the album that improve on the debut, but thanks to drawing the songs out these improvements hardly matter.

68/100

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The Chasm - Deathcult for Eternity: The Triumph

Genre: Death Metal

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It shoves the heaviness at you instantly, and with better production values the album is all the more effective. Of course, I wasn't in love with the songwriting at first. The opening Revenge Rises/Drowned in the Mournful Blood, starts out with pretty standard riffing, showing nothing spectacular whatsoever. I hate to sound like a “prog rules all” kind of guy, but the truth is the truth in this instance: once the song kicked into prog metal, it was less predictable and it grabbed my attention. In contrast, I liked the opening riffs to the next song, No Mercy. They were wild and untamed, as were the bandmates as they thrashed through the song, even though it sounded just a little messier than it needed to be at times.

The album's quality of writing would fluxuate for a while as we get songs that are just there for thrashing purposes like I'm the Hateful Raven and songs that are there to focus on the music for artistic purposes like Apocolypse. Highlights for me are when songs get incredibly unpredictable but consistent nonetheless, like A Portal to Nowhere, which was a five-star performance as far as recounting everything the album had done beforehand went.

It's quite obvious that this album was successful among metal fans for its raw brutality. The band went from 6-10 on that scale immediately after the second album, and it switched from pure thrashing to quick-thinking and clever songwriting often. It's a good album for the death metal fan and I recommend it. It's certainly heavy and quirky enough to get the job done, although I've heard a lot of death metal that's impressed me, and I'm not sure this would make top 100 death metal for me. Nevertheless, I'll give it a good rating.

87/100

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The Chasm – Procession to the Infraworld

Genre: Death Metal

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The glory days of The Chasm started with their third album, Deathcult for Eternity: The Triumph, which had its strengths but wasn't the legend it was made out to be by some websites. Maybe the big flaw was that it was too long? Well, with the 40 minute fourth entry, Procession to the Infraworld, I knew that wouldn't be a problem. All that mattered was what it would sound like.

I expected so many different things from this album considering what the band had done in the past and its diverse genre-tagging across the internet. But the first thing I noticed was cleaner production. THAT is a very hit or miss thing in death metal. Why it's true that the most famous death metal album, Symbolic by Death themselves, has some of the cleanest production death metal has ever been granted, I've met lot of death fans who prefer the dirty stuff. So the real question was, can this album justify the production with its heaviness or not? Well, either I just wore THAT ONE right pair of headphones, or the heaviness of this album, while not obsessive like Deathcult, was more than good enough to get by.

The opener, Spectral Sounds of the Mictlan, was really just a good instrumental intro that ran for three minutes and did a good enough job. But the magic began on The Scars of My Journey. The instruments were well-produced and well-played, but I found the vocalist just a little difficult to hear in comparison, so there's that. Already not a perfect album, but satisfactory. The song was heavy as all crap, anyway, and the black metal influence mingled perfectly. The audio problem was fixed on the third track, At the Edge of the Nebula Mortis, which wasn't quite as progressive and used its melody more sparingly, which brought out a lot of the thrash factor. So the first three tracks gradually got better and heavier.

After the third track, the high quality stays consistent, as the riffage displayed is nothing short of incredible, especially in Return of the Banished, which handles its progginess and occasional subgenre-shifting perfectly. Unfortunately, around Architects of Melancholic Apocalypse (I actually typed that title?) you kind of know what to expect by that point, despite the fact that the musicianship is still peak musicianship for death metal. So, even though you don't have anymore surprises, you will likely still have a great time.

The production and musicianship of Procession to the Infraworld beats the previous album by a country mile. But the real reason this is such a treasure is because it handles so many different kinds of metal so well and so lightly that it feels like the band can play multiple genres without even noticing. Among the progressive structures we have traces of melodeath, meloblack and thrash here. This is one of the finest death metal albums I've heard, and I'd recommend this to anyone as a good intro album to death metal since it handles so many kinds with peak consistency.

95/100

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Procession to the Infraworld is definitely my favorite. My favorite track is #6 Cosmic Landscapes of Sorrow. I rarely play anything of theirs from before that one. The next three full lengths after this one are all quite good as well. That's The Chasm's sweet spot for me, their 4 albums from the 2000's. Then they took a long break because their lead guitar player had cancer. They came back and released a good solid album in 2017 but it was completely devoid of vocals so I never really listen to that one. They have a new one out now this year, I really need to get on top of that shit. They are also a truly excellent live band, I've seen them 3 times. If you ever get the chance do go see them.

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  • Rexorcist changed the title to Rexorcist's Album Reviews

This is gonna be a weird one.

Nadja - Trembled (2006)

Genres: Drone Metal, Drone, Post-Metal

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I'm slowly getting into drone metal, pun intended, and I'm working my way through several Nadja albums as a starter, working my way up from the decent ones to the better ones to get the strongest idea of what's typically considered great drone.  But it's a challenge.  Drone is my LEAST favorite genre, and as a result, drone metal is my least favorite form of metal.  But this isn't to say I haven't enjoyed or seen value in Nadja so far.  After a few of their studio releases, I headed towards their live album, Trembled.

Despite being a drone album, Trembled runs at a brisk forty-five minutes.  Perfect for the beginner, right?  Well, this album is a little too perfect for a beginner, as the album doesn't really deliver any new good to the drone metal scene.  It's a pretty simple piece, giving the listener four soft, ambient tracks that alternate between a doomy-emotional feel and a soft aural melancholic atmosphere, acting as sort of a lullaby for anyone who wants to relax.  The latter is especially present in the album's Swans cover, "No Cure for the Lonely," which ends with a collection of higher sounds and drops to the bottom of the scale with a deeper and slightly more experimental track, "Corrasion."  But once again, the simple drone structure is delivered with just enough good production and emotion not to be a "bad" album.

I don't want to say Trembled was a "disappointment," but out of the few Nadja metal albums I've already checked out, this is the worst.  It offers no incredible melody or sound effects to progress or repeat like the original 2003 version of Touched, and it doesn't have a surprising level of emotion and experimentation like Truth Becomes Death.  It delivers the basics right to the core with only a little bit of style.

61/100.

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Thank you Furrier for giving us that review of the worst album by the worst band in your least favorite genre of music. So enlightening to learn that drone is droney and it sucks ass even when it's been produced well.

Say here's an idea, since you can review anything you want on your review thread here, why don't you review some genres and albums you actually like? I mean you're free to do whatever you want but it doesn't have to be an exercize in masochism where you force yourself to listen to shit you hate.

When you joined last week you hinted that you had this big list of your top 100 albums that you keep by your side at all times. Why don't you hit us with some reviews of some of the good stuff? A bold and provocative idea I know, maybe a little controversial, but I really think that it has potential and you could make it work.

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It really depends on what I need.  There's a little bit of drone and post-metal in my list, so I'm trying to get a better grip on it just to finalize it.  That's why I need more drone.  Still, there are some things I do want to review here, so I'll give you one of the albums from a genre I love in a moment.

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Nadja - Thaumogenesis (2007)

Genre: Drone Metal

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Power metal may be where my heart lies, but I am in a rare drone metal and post-metal mood, and I plan on utilizing that as much as possible.  I previously detailed my venture into the catalog of Nadja, a Canadian band who helped make drone metal what it is, partially due to their heavily packed studio discography.  One of the more well-regarded one is the one-hour track, Thaumogenesis.  Hey, I've heard Bull of Heaven albums before.  I can take this.

At first, the album starts with a lightly more imaginative take on the tropes of drone metal, molding its dark and quite atmosphere with shifting moments of melancholy and surrealism.  Within the first ten minutes it had become more than an average drone album.  And eventually the surrealism and melancholy would occasionally mingle as the album's overall tone got louder and higher (slowly, though, as it should be).  And eventually, I felt sucked into another world as the atmosphere overpowered the living room.

When I checked the time, a half-hour had past.  But the beautiful thing is that it didn't FEEL like a half-hour; it felt closer to twenty minutes.  So if someone create slow music that makes time fly, you know he's doing a good job.  And by the halfway point, this dark and surreal experience turned into a choir of orchestral reverb slowly bringing out the most beautiful moments of the album before shifting into an almost demonic raspy siren of low-tuned guitars that would make my favorite sludge band Neurosis proud.  And the shift from one tone to another was seamless and without notice.  Genius work on their part.  Once this darker atmosphere slowly shifted its focus from the guitar riff to the atmosphere (once again, slowly), the album became a true testament to emotion once again.  And after they go back to the riff focus, somehow it goes even lower than low, toning down to a hellish vibe before resorting to mellow acoustic guitar, almost like an attempt to comfort someone after descending to hell, and turning into a piece of ambiance filling the room yet again.

I'm gonna be honest, if there was a drone album I'd recommend as a starting point for exploring the genre, this would likely be it.  I found myself really enjoying this.  And yes, I prefer the album I heard last night when I was tired, Truth Becomes Death, but Thaumogenesis delivers on its good with a great deal of slow-moving experimentation, making this an effective drone album in the end.  It takes a special drone album to get a recommendation from me, and this album gets better as it goes along.  I can't say I'm a drone metal fan, but this is one of the two albums that I can say made me a Nadja fan.

8.5/10.

 

Next review will be a prog metal with a lot of power and symphonic influence.

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Symphony X - Paradise Lost (2007)

Genre: Prog Metal

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I only recently became a big fan of Symphony X.  By this point, I've heard almost all of their albums and I'm been finding myself going back to the albums I've already heard more often than most prog bands I've heard, even my ex-favorite Dream Theater.  This is progginess at a very creative level, and they keep being creative even by today's standards.  ANd one of those shining gems is ironically their most accessible, Paradise Lost, which sacrifices some of their signature neoclassical sound (the genre they perfected) for more straightforward prog.

The album starts out with the band's best "intro" song, "Oculus Ex Inferni," which boasts the band's strongest symphonic sounds yet.  Honestly, the intro is so magical that you'd have to wonder if James Horner wrote it.  Then "Set the World On Fire" comes up, and it's probably Symphony X's heaviest song so far.  There are significantly less neoclassical elements as a result, leading the organ the band loves so much to be an occasional element of instrumental focus.

Obviously, Paradise Lost was an attempt in making their most "metal" album, and while I willingly promote the progression and right to change a signature sound, the album did come off as a little samey at the end.  But these guys have not lost any of their identity; they just cranked the power of their prog and power metal up a notch.  In "Domination," it's more of the same but with a little more groove.  Nevertheless, Russell Allen is wailing like he's got something to gain, and as a result there's a lot of spirit and power in the songs, and he keeps itself from being "too much," even though the extra power could potentially be considered too much when compared with past albums.  There is more of this kind of vibe with the edge factor cranked up until we reach its first ballad, the title track.

That title track is fucking addicting.  The instrumentation of the 6-6-6-7 timing of the intro is one of the most beautiful opining melodies I've heard, and the rest of the song progresses along with that beauty.  True, the lyrics to the verses are damn typical, but the chorus is so beautifully worded that it almost doesn't matter (besides, the lyrics are still better than the damn catchy Huntik theme).  And once we reach the guitar solo, it manages to be a metal solo but still carry that melodic beauty of the intro well with its very high pitch.  I just wrote a full paragraph for the once song.

Immediately afterwards, we get the heavy metal riffage of "Eve of Seduction," which carries an attitude only seen in 80's-90's hard rock and grunge for most of it, so the song itself ends up being a real jam, despite the fact that it's still susceptible to the progressive nature of the album.  Afterwards is the second-to-longest track, "The Walls of Babylon," which begins with a surreal Babylonian instrumentation... but then tricks you and goes right back to the heavy metal.  Still, the way the international influences are mingled in rings heavily of the best works of Therion.  It's also their most progressive song on this album, as the metal, symphony and progginess switches around for three-and-a-half minutes until we get our lyrics.

Afterwards is "Seven," which is the most blatantly power-based and neoclassical, ringing some memories of "The Divine Wings of Tragedy," despite the fact that its cheesy power metal lyrics ring of past heavy-power acts like Grave Digger.  Next is "The Sacrifice," and I don't have much to say about this one except that it's yet another great ballad, but nowhere near as good as the title track because it's more melodramatic, and once again our friend Russell feels the need to wail like a lion.  And finally, we hit the big grand finale, the epic "Revelation," which carries a tone, structure and vibe very reminiscent of "Evolution" from their previous album V: The New Mythology Suite, carrying a very strong heavy prog presence, and vocals by Russell which aren't as loud or over-the-top.

Diehard prog fans may be turned off by the newfound accessibility of Symphony X, but this is not to say that they sold out.  The musicianship is still at peak level, even though it's more straight-up prog than neoclassical.  Honestly, if you like your metal heavy, the this is definitely the Symphony X album for you.  It's not a worse Symphony X, just a more traditional form of prog metal (and I separate "traditional" from "generic" in this instance).  I give this my highest recommendation, as it is a perfect entryway into Symphony X and prog metal.

10/10.

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4 hours ago, Rexorcist said:

Nadja - Thaumogenesis (2007)

You have hit the spot. Nadja are prolific, and I have many of their albums, but not this one. Nice review. The cover art is very nice too.

Probably, 'The Stone Is Not Hit By the Sun...' is my favourite.

But I'm with the GG on the symphonic prog. It's not for me.

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2 hours ago, GoatmasterGeneral said:

Is this blanket of static on purpose, or is it just part of this youtube video, or could the needle be picking up dust or something?

Um, it starts with quietly strummed guitar then goes on with a bass heavy wall of sound repeating a nice riff, then some quiet vocals - multitracked. Not sure what you are hearing.

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OK, I know I've been dragging on the top 100 for a while, and I apologize for that.  However, I'm sometimes a perfectionist with these kinds of things.  I don't want to post it here until it's just right.  Thankfully, I only have a few bands left to explore before I can finally post it, and that's not going to take long.  I won't say much as to what it will include, but I will say that I've made a lot of time to reevaluate albums I wasn't absolutely certain needed to be there.  Some were kicked off and replaced, and some were given higher ratings.  I'm also making sure I judge every album fairly by looking at what the album is trying to accomplish as a part of its scene(s) and genre(s) and deciding how well it holds up to similar albums before I compare it to the rest.

The albums I've gone over and re-rated go over practically every metal genre imaginable, from the heaviest deathcore to the most melodic power metal to the grisliest doom metal.  And it's safe to assume that this list is 95% complete at the very minimum.

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Hell - Hell (2009)

Genres: Sludge Metal, Doom Metal, Drone Metal

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There are a lot of bands I need to go through in order to get my top 100 right, many of which pertain to the slower genres I don't normally explore.  Having said that, I have many fond memories of a long-term sludge binge I had throughout 2019 and 2020, and I've explored some brilliant artists in that time.  One I haven't explored, however, is Hell, not because I'm Christian and I think I'll get possessed, but because it was also a doom and drone album, two genres I haven't ever obsessed over.  So, the Hell debut it is.

But the album was quite good.  Right from the opener, "Lethe," the music was crushing and monstrous, refusing to succumb to the lightning speed of typical metal and allowing the growls of the guitar to do all of the talking.  Sometimes the sludgy music rang truer to Candlemass and sometimes it had the experimental vibes of Nadja  I found myself almost hypnotized by its epic finale, "Maeror," which starts out with the almost industrial sounding "dark ambient" influences and continues on into an ever progressing wail of agony coming from the wild, and yet there's a musicality behind it much like an old record player delivering a requiem mass but drowned out by reverb.  In this instance the album Soundtracks for the Blind by Swans came to mind.

Despite its heaviness and its authentic faithfulness to the many genres it combines, I feel that the album itself doesn't really do anything that unique for the veins of metal it tackles.  Just that it's a good enough performance to recommend.  But for anyone looking to get into the slower genres, the Hell but makes for a very good start.  Chances are it may not amaze you, but it will likely entertain you if you like these genres.  I know this album makes me happy that I decided to explore more drone metal.  I'd say it's better thanthe last drone album I reviewed: Thaumogenesis by Nadja, and that was a pretty good album.

8/10

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Hell - Hell II (2003)

Genres: Doom / Drone / Sludge

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The Hell debut was a good album, but it didn't offer anything new.  From what I've heard, Hell II is considered to be the second worst of the four released Hell albums, but I plan on listening to them in order to see how Hell produced as a band, and hopefully to see more value in the drone metal genre.  After playing it, I realized I finally found a drone album I would BUY.  And I don't even buy my favorite albums since I get most of them online.  I would buy this to support him.  However, I warn you, this album is not for the faint of heart.  Do not listen to this album unless you've mentally prepared for the apocalypse.

The opener, "Gog," lasts a third of the album.  The first thing I noticed was that the heaviness hadn't suffered, and I started thinking of Electric Wizard, specifically the album Dopesmoker.  The black metal vocals and drumming helped make the opener a little more unique than the guitars would let on, and I welcomed them before I even noticed I had, almost like it was second nature to expect something new this time, as I hoped for.  But the vocals soon became some of the deepest, and most monstrous growls I have ever heard.  Honestly, that kinda scares me.  It didn't even sound like he had altered his voice with tech.  And this was just the first fifth of the opening 20-minute epic.  I have rarely heard an album that describes darkness so well, even in four minutes.  After five, it became a mix of doom and black metal, and I was really eager to see what would happen next, but patient and would leave the album to do its thing.  I was putting my trust in it to constantly progress.  This is drone mastery, as well as some of the most spirited metal I've ever heard, and they say number III is better.  Even as it went back to being the sludgiest sludge ever, I still felt the black metal power creeping on me.  Seamless transition from one metal genre to another seems to be the defining trait of this slow-burner, Hell pun not intended.

Then came the following track, "Umbilicus," and I checked to see that it was only eight minutes.  As the brutality assaulted me with M.S.W.'s black metal vocals aiding the incurable fuzziness, I felt disappointed that this track would only be eight minutes long, so I enjoyed the brutality as much as I could.  That keen mix of death doom and sludge with just a hint of prog was... too heavy to pass up, but the actual songwriting never once suffered.  The song offered me one surprise after another, and I enjoyed every repeated melody, knowing that M.S.W.'s sense of timing was worth it.  Once again, after the actual melody ends, the album shifts into a loud drone solo mixing ethereal ambiance with a frightful occultism as faint tribal drumming brought the beat up.  Genius work.  But this noise dissipated and in its place came a Sabbath-style melody with no drums attached: all strings.  If I ever got the chance, I would play this shit for Ozzy.  And it did turn into sludgy drone again, and the two elements complimented each other like they were fucking brothers.  The eight minutes was worth it.

Suddenly, the music stops, and the third track begins: "Metnal," starting with the exact same kind of stoner doom you'd expect from Electric Wizard's heaviest songs, but including a black metal melody overtime.  This songs lasts a satisfactory fifteen minutes, so I knew I was in for another wild ride.  And occasionally there are slam death growls mingled with the black metal vocals.  SLAM DEATH SQUEALS.  The album treats the mix of stoner doom and black metal like it's absolutely nothing, and then suddenly we throw slam death into the mix?  What in the actual fuck!?  And now we just stop and go into a lightly symphonic drone with a hint of Eno-style ambiance!  What's next!  The jazzy electronica of Vangelis's Blade Runner soundtrack?  Nope.  Scratch that.  A heavily melodic acoustic work.  Does it feel out of place?  Slightly.  Very slightly.  It carries emotion over fairly well, and once it transitions to powerful black metal, it feels like a proper introduction to the second half of the song.  And once that ends, it's back to the acoustica.  Agalloch rings heavily in my mind, except the glory of nature isn't here to comfort me.  The listener is still stuck in a mental image of hell.  And as expected, we go back to the beautiful black metal, but with a different and heavier melody, before devolving back into the stoner doom, but with more sludge.  As we go back to the defining sound of the first act, we get a slight hint of symphonic dungeon synth to help make the ending a little more epic before devolving into a droney and perfectly fitting outro.

The final track, the fifteen minute "Trucid," begins with the same kind of post-metal intro you'd expect from Agalloch or Solstafir, relying more on emotion and repetition with light hints of melody to bring out the raw emotion, but tamely and softly so as not to overdo it.  New, but fitting.  As expected, but to no dissapoint, it very careful evolves into an explosion of raw power, offering a few fake-out build-ups in the background with deep drone guitars before the loud and fast-paced black metal takes over.  Going from slow post-metal to untamed hyperactivity like it was nothing and adding a doom melody in the background was the perfect way to go about this sense of transition.  And the next transition to take over is an incredibly fuzzy, heavy and drug-ridden rhythm of repetition and anger that can only be described as true metal.  But once another drone midtro kicks in, we go back to the post-metal melodies but with greater speed and a higher sense of melody, almost like a band of travelling minstrels.  Somehow, this fits into the album, and I can't explain how.  Maybe the deep sound of the acoustic guitar taking over?  Either way, it fades out into more drone and black metal, just letting the sound carry away the raw apocalyptic feel of the album.  The wailing of the singer defines it all perfectly, crying in pain for his lack of salvation.  The album ends where "Trucid" began, with a dark and melancholy post-metal riff reminiscent of Agalloch or Solstafir.

This is what the apocalypse sounds like.  Honestly, this is probably the single heaviest album I've ever heard.  There were times it pushed the buttons of diversity, occasionally ringing into softer acoustic music, but that didn't stop anything.  If anything, the fact thatM.S.W. could pull it off only proves how much focus on the art of metal he put into this album.  The album covers a plethora of metal genres, all of which hit extremes unlinke anything I've ever heard.

The debut might've been just another good sludge album that wasn't too special, but this was far from generic.  Hell II combined the steady timing of Dopesmoker and the hyper-consistent genre-hopping of Burnt Offerings and cranked both up.  In terms of quality, I'd put this somewhere between Burnt Offerings (the high) and Dopesmoker (the low).  Hell II redefines sadness, anger, moral lapse, drugs, timing and atmosphere  And a big part of me believes that I may not succumb to the conformism of favoring Hell III once I get to it.  This album isn't just an album made by an act who nicknamed himself Hell.  This album is HELL, the perfect representation, a spiritual soundtrack to Dante's Inferno.  The only potential flaw I can think of is that this might be too much even for some drone / sludge / doom fans, because this is the scariest album I've ever heard, even more so than Massive Conspiracy Against All Life by Leviathan.  This album is the incarnation of slow metal, always getting the timing and diversity down perfectly.  This is everything I look for in metal and holds true to every standard I set for the greatest music albums ever.

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Hell - Hell III (2012)

Genres: Doom / Drone / Sludge

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I've finished the third Hell album.  I had just gotten done with a rave review on how the second album was a perfect example of what metal needed to be.  This is better.  Like, this somehow slaughters the last album.

Hell III starts out similarly to the ending of the last album with the opener, "Mourn," kickstarting a heavily melodic post-metal tune before allowing the album to slowly emerge from a calm melancholy to pure sadness, and that's when a black metal melody of brutally heavy proportions, thanks in part to the production, massacred my ears.  As the sadness developed into anger, the anger soon turned into the fuzziest doom metal in existence.  Electric Wizard can fuck off.  And as the rage slowly turns into a patient despair, the drone combines with the doom again to create a hellish atmosphere with occasional backing effects that sound occasionally like religious undertones such as a deep choir in the background.  Eventually the drone turns into a tornado of howling winds and foghorns groaning into the cloudy night.  These groans kickstart the third act, but the instrumentation of the drone aspects and the horrific vibes are top-notch.  But it never allows itself to become too slow.  Soon, the winds of despair bring back the acoustic melodies of the intro, bringing us back into a circle.  It was too perfect.

The second half of the album, and the second track, "Decadere," continues where the first song left off, but with less melody and more despair, and decides to take a violin to the mix to help amplify the dronish aspects of the album.  The post-metal/post-rock vibes continue for a while, calming the nerves after such a moodswing of a first half.  I admit, I didn't expect the opening melody to just fade into nothingness before rising again, as if it was a different song entirely, but something about the fade-out brought me at ease, and I wasn't really disppointed when it started up again (although I was hoping for a blast of doom metal), but the way in which it was incorporated was brilliant, allowing it to mold right into the post-metal with some beautiful symphonic female singing being just audible enough to be enjoyed, barely struggling to match up with the incredible doom, and switching between that and the black metal vocals.  When the drone finally kicks in, we've got more effects, better production and some samples of barely audible speeches in the background, all for the purpose of the apocalyptic atmosphere.  This is the kind of thing Neurosis did for their album Through Silver in Blood.  The sample goes on as we go back into the post-rock solos, but we as have slow symphonic sounds to upgrade the religious connections of the apocalyptic setting.  And after that, we're back into the doomy sludge with another flawless transition, and as the black metal elements kick in again, the album reaches a level of musical and emotional heaviness that I'm not sure the world will ever see again.  And somehow there was still five minutes left in this album?  The black metal and doom metal work together to follow in the rhythmic footsteps of the post-rock solos and eventually quickly devolves into silence, leaving behind three minutes.  And once again, an acoustic melody plays, this time to another barely audible sample which I can only imagine is someone talking about some sort of doomsday event, or disappointment at politicians or some crap like that.  But the drone influences are still strong.

I honestly can't believe what I just heard.  I can't believe someone actually made this.  This is everything slower metal bands want to be, and M.S.W. made it look so fucking easy.  The heaviness scratched the edge of the universe, and the genre-hopping was just as healthy on this album, and the melancholy and anger were perfectly expressed.  In 37 minutes, M.S.W. took everythnig about his last album and slaughtered it.  This and the previous album are perfect examples of what metal needs to be.

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Good news.  From the looks of it, I may only need to reevaluate one album before I'm ready to post the top 100 thread.  I've been over this list again and again, and I can safely say that I guarantee that this list will stay this way for a long time, at least until the possibility that I decide to give it a real update next year.  I'm fully confident in what I have for now, but it's going to take place in a separate thread specifically for talking about the list, specifically in general chat where the top ten threads are.  I can't promise anything, but there's a very real chance that the thread will be kickstarted within the hour.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Blind Guardian - The God Machine (2022)

Genres: Power Metal

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I've been waiting for the chance to review this ever since I heard about it.  In recent times, in fact just this year, Blind Guardian has become my favorite German band.  For any internet nerd who knows me, it may come as no surprise that "Imaginations from the Other Side" is my favorite power metal song.  I've been dying to hear how they reimagine the various pop culture influences they'd tackle, although I was pretty mad when I found out that, despite having the most Neon Genesis Evangelion album cover imaginable, they had no Evangelion songs, especially since the name of the album is literally The God Machine, which makes a lot of sense in EVA context.  But the album was one of the most impressing returns to form I had ever heard, and it still had moments of improvement.

It fucking BLASTED me in the face.  "Deliver Us From Evil" surprised me with the heaviest stuff I had ever heard from Blind Guardian, and in the end the melody was just as strong as it was on Somewhere Far Beyond and the speed metal albums preceding it.  And the following speed tracks didn't get watered down in this regard.  I mean, yeah I was a little worried when "Damnation" had pretty much the same tempo as the opener directly preceding it, but the song itself was still a very good, catchy and epic piece worthy of Blind Guardian's indisputable rep.  But immediately afterwords, there's a slower symphonic epic piece that still spends a lot of time building atmosphere through the band's power and heaviness: "Secrets of the American Gods."  If you know BG, you've already figured out that the lyrics reflect how much they read.  Neil Gaiman is getting the same treatment as Brandon Sanderson and Tolkien.  And this is probably the best song on the album so far (but it's a pretty close call out of these three songs).  It does an incredible job at capturing drama without falling into symphonic power cheese.  Of course, the jamming's back with "Violent Shadows," which lyrically handles The Stormlight Archives by the world-renowned king of magic systems, Brandon Sanderson.  I know a bit about him from my brother who's a big fan.  I can't say whether or not it's a good representation of that book since I've never read "Brando Sando," but I felt the fantasy energy.  It helped that the song is so damn fast and heavy, but occasionally slows down for the mood's sake.

And then we get freaking space guitars and slow-ass tempos in a very weird and astral song that Wikipedia claims is about the big bang, "Life Beyond the Spheres."  But looking through the lore of the lyrics and the fantasy vibe occasionally present, I feel like it's about something else.  "Three kings foresee the healing reign" and "The great lord Osiris reigns forevermore" don't exactly say, "this is what atheists believe happened."  I'm sure there's a deeper meaning in this.  Not to mention, this is probably the least BG song on the album, despite the fact that the progression and vibe of the album is absolutely flawless, as well as the handling of melodies and riffs.  Incredible work.  Despite being about space, this song is so mysterious that it's cultish.

Now that I just wrote a whole paragraph for one song, lemme tell you about a much heavier song that starts out following that same cultish space vibe: a song about Battlestar Galactica.  It feels like a war chant, but carries the sci-fi vibe well, and in ways Iron Savior could only wish to achieve and they've been trying since their inception.  Next is a lyrical hybrid of the series The Leftovers and the death of Kursch's mother, "Let It Be No More."  It's a wonderfully grim ballad that takes the heaviness of the album and applies it to the atmosphere and presence as opposed to the instrumentation.  Two songs after the astral "Life Beyond the Spheres," this feels surprisingly in line with all of the riff-blasting speed tracks thanks to using the softer tracks to mold diversity and consistency.  And the solo rings of some of the classic hard rock ballad riffs.  You're gonna love this next one: "Blood of the Elves."  If you guessed it right, yes, it's The Witcher, notably the first novel.  The mood is incredibly badass, the riffs are super-catchy, and the delivery of the fantasy vibe is heavily reminiscent of Nightfall in Middle-Earth.  It's the most BG song so far, in contrast to "Life Beyond the Spheres."  And for a closer, I didn't expect the somewhat proggier intro and odd vibe of "Destiny," but its surreal approach drew me in once the actual metal kicked in.  It has its own identity from all the other songs, and the riff is damn good.  Lyrically, I suppose they hd to throw in ONE old fairy tale.  This one covers "The Ice Maiden," which I know nothing about so I'll just speak for the song: not the best song on the album, but a proper closer because it's different and it's got perfectly fine riffage.

There's a little bit of polarization coming from the BG fans already.  I mean, this is their heaviest and most diverse album so far.  But the thing is, it's a bit familiar.  BG are essentially combining many things they've done well in the past: the speedy jams of the early days, the transition into symphonic fantasy concepts, and more.  But I don't remember then ever handling the sci-fi vibe so damn well.  Hell, on Somewhere Far Beyond which shows the band getting serious about fantasy orchestra influence, they started that album with a damn Blade Runner song.  They never did space crap like this before, which means there's something very original about this song.  Besides, I think the familiarity thing depends on who you ask, and personally, I'm up for it if they can justify it.  And you knwo what the justification is?  PEOPLE HAVE BEEN BEGGING THEM TO STOP BEING A CHEESY CLASSICAL BAND AND GO BACK TO SPEED METAL FOR AGES!  If this is a mix of all previous sounds of this band and still includes some new outer-spece-themes sounds and compositions, then I think this is a perfectly fine album.  Maybe none of these songs QUITE reach the level of the best songs from Imaginations or Nightfall, but I would go as far as to say that this is at least better than ANATO and Somewhere.  This is the Blind Guardian people have been waiting for, and it's their heaviest and most diverse album so far.

10 / 10

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26 minutes ago, KillaKukumba said:

Wow. I've only listened to it once but it's certainly not a 10 for me.

You've clearly given it more thought than I have though. I couldn't write that many words about it unless I repeated them all 5 times.

Usually, albums that are considered "growers" don't take as long for me anymore.  I used to have to grow on an album a lot, especially for Kid A, the Ramones debut and some Eno, but at this point, I'm so used to new ideas that I try not to judge things too much if they show differences that still work despite a sacrifice in comparison to a past release by that artist.

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This is gonna be a rare album from England, and I have my reasons for listening to it.

Dead Like Wolves - Melancholia

Genres: Alt-Rock / Grunge

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Back when I was on a major grunge binge, I was getting into rare and underground acts more and more often in a failed attempt to make modern grunge more popular.  One of these was a live album called From the Muddy Banks of the Tyne.  I planned on checking out more of their albums later, but before I knew it, I couldn't find them on Bandcamp!  They had disappeared!  Well, looks like they reappeared.  And the last thing I want is to listen to an album and have it disappear from the internet and the world, like what happened with Wanna Make It a Day by Robin Roelofs / Robin Famewolf.  So I'm gonna review this before it's lost from history again.

I think the album is more built specifically for either grunge fans or typical alt-rock fans.  Having said that, there's practically no post-grunge here, thank God.  And from the various types of songs written, it's pretty clear that their grunge love steers far past simply Nirvana, despite how close their guitar tone rings to them on "Higher You Rise (Harder You Fall)" and "Mourning Sickness."  Hell, even the following track, "Scarlet," takes a bit of surf rock influence, making it one of the coolest songs on the album.  Surf grunge, right?  And while we have songs like the title track bringing out some decent soft melodies, we've also got straight-up punk on songs like "Japanic."  So these modern alt-rockers aren't exactly the type to write the same song over and over again.

The band clearly relies on their harmonized and soft vocals to deliver the goods, and it works pretty well.  But when the band decides to go for the raspy delivery, they just aren't good at it.  It feels' like they're just being raspy enough to notice, so the effect they go for fails.  Not to mention, I've heard a lot of grunge albums, so despite the positives, nothing here really stands out.  Every song is OK, and the variety makes it better.  Honestly, I'm glad that these guys are at least trying to make "art" by taking various directions.  But nah, these guys aren't the next Nirvana, just a decently catchy band for Nirvana fans.  At least singer Roy Brown isn't trying desparately hard to sound like Cobain.

6.5/10

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