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The Vault Dweller
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:42 pm
Posts: 5
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:47 am 
 

I've been coming to this site for years, and finally, yesterday I decided to become a member. I thought I'd post a review I did a while ago, which was rejected on here recently, granted there are a few errors in it, but obviously it's hard for me to criticise something I made. Can someone give it a crack and tell me where I fucked up? It's on At The Gates' "Terminal Spirit Disease".

"Since their debut EP in 1991, Swedish Melodic Death Metal band, At The Gates have continuously been in a state of improvement and growing strength with each release. Their 1994 LP, Terminal Spirit Disease, at only just over thirty minutes, is their 3rd release, and their last with Peaceville Records before joining Earache. With its 20th anniversary just under a year away, I've decided to look back on this album, which along with Carcass' "Heartwork" (1993) helped pioneer and influence a whole genre of music. An album often overshadowed by their fourth album, "Slaughter Of The Soul" (1995), which right up until now in 2013, has been their last studio release.With two previous Death Metal albums that had already established themselves within the Gothenburg scene, many fans at the time had expected a similar sound for their third studio outing.

The first track, "The Swarm" starts with a beautiful string intro, fading into the drums. Immediately I can see the difference in genre. The Melodies are apparent within the first minute of the album. The harsh, unique vocals of frontman Tomas Lindberg and the musical mixture of Death Metal with elements from classic Heavy Metal make for an unusual, very interesting match. Other tracks, such as "Terminal Spirit Disease", an aggressive speed driven song gives the listener a hint into the melodic future of the Swedish Death Metal scene that was starting to be utilised by contemporaries such as Dark Tranquility and In Flames. Other moments of calm and mellow music again are seen in "And The World Returned", a three minute acoustic instrumental with violins backing, gives a range not usually seen by Death Metal bands, which runs into the fourth track, "Forever Blind". Although the album is driven by guitar melodies, it still has an influence from their first 2 albums, more so in the second half of the album, which I don't completely enjoy. The second half gets a little bit more repetitive on the last two tracks. I feel this album is often forgotten in the hype and critical reception of Slaughter Of The Soul, but it still has its moments that even an album such as that could not deliver.

Overall I would give this album 7/10
I would recommend it to any fan of Melodic Death Metal or anyone new to Death Metal. Great album which showcased the ability and potential At The Gates made more of with their next album."

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cacaman
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:33 am
Posts: 17
Location: France
PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:47 am 
 

Hi there !

Ive written a review about Dream Theater's Train Of Thought, and it has been rejected.
As the mail i've recieved suggested it, Im asking you for help or/and comments in this thread to improve this review, and for it to be accepted.

Here it is :


Quote:
So…
I really don’t know where to begin this purge.
The beginning of the 00’s was a curve in Dream Theater’s history. Indeed, after their sumptuous “Scenes From a Memory”, the 2 band thinkers Portnoy & Petrucci decided to let the metal side of their music grow. Was it a necessity, really? I wonder when I listen to some tunes like Caught in a Web, Fatal Tragedy, or Beyond This Life… Well, nevermind, it was their choice. Unfortunately, the method to do so was disastrous.


Those cheerful sorts had the awesome idea of bringing some old CDs with them for rehearsals and composition times (they had already done this in the past but at least it was not that blatant). In their bags, some old ‘Tallica, Pantera, Tool, Muse, Radiohead, and HERE WE GOOOOO. What Portnoy called the “inspiration corner” had officially become the main composition source for the band. Hey, this riff from Pantera is nice, and what if we modify it like this… and yeah, a brand new riff!! Some people don’t care about those “details”. But for me, it’s a hell of an issue.


Of course, nothing in the world is plain originality. We all are a sum of various individualities, of personalities that have marked our existence, speaking about ways of thinking (values) or visual aspects (clothes, haircut, etc). To sum it up, nobody can build a personality by themselves. That goes for music as well. After all we could say that all music has been influenced by the cavemen’s very first rhythms. So the “inspiration” is not a problem in itself, because you can’t avoid it, whatever you do.


BUT. There’s a real line between inspiration, which is honest, natural, and shameless copy. Sometimes we don’t really know if the line has been crossed or not, but Dream Theater has us wondering. We can think of “Home” (Tool’s "46 & 2"), “Innocence Faded” (Rush’s “Red Barchetta”), “Trial Of Tears” (Allan Holdsworth), “Anna Lee” (Toto’s “I’ll Be Over You”), or “Lifting Shadows Off a Dream” (U2), “Peruvian Skies” (Metallica). Was it done on purpose or not? Well, no big deal because it only concerned some tunes here and there, nothing really serious and major to compare with all the other songs.
Since 6DOIT, it’s different. The “inspiration corner” has become a reality. Those clowns listened to some records, liked to mimic some riffs they found good, fixed them with a bunch of counter times to evade the issue, and put breaks full to bursting with waterfalls of notes played at breakneck speed. And there you have it. Here, the line between sane inspiration and blatant plagiarism has been crossed. If you disagree, then consider this :


In my opinion this album is far from being entirely bad. The 1st track, As I am, is worth a listen, especially thanks to the effective verse riff ; some parts stay very well written, like the beginning of This Dying Soul, there are some cool breaks & themes (Endless Sacrifice, Stream Of Consciousness, some parts of Honor Thy Father) and nice choruses (In The Name Of God) ; plus we appreciate the brilliant idea to insert the smooth Vacant at the 5th position, for those who had had the crazy thought to eat all this in one shot. Exactly the kind of song you would listen to 4 times in a row in order to put your brain the right way up. You will need it badly.


Indeed, little by little Train Of Thought unveils light faults which will increase in the course of the “experience” : this Labrie’s irritating attempt at mimicking James Hetfield at the end of every chorus, and abstruse guitar & keys solos - when too much shred kills shred. Then you’ll have to face the mallcore/nu-metal side of this album. If you disliked Labrie playing his new favorite game “I too want to sing like James Hetfield”, you’ll hate him even more on This Dying Soul, when his atrocious saturated voice crushes your balls ; or on Honor Thy Father, when a stinky rap crops up and the singer, crooked cap on the mug, spits his hate in the mike. WTF. During this exhausting trip, I was sinking more and more into my sofa. But hey, it’s Dream Theater, what about their music full of subtleties? To be honest, the complexity and counter times don’t make up for anything. On the contrary, they make this mess even more painful to bear. Was it a sad attempt to sound like a new kind of tech-thrash? Of course Dream Theater is skilled enough for it, but they don’t have the right feeling. They’re no Coroner, Mekong Delta or Watchtower, and only offer a thick mush of riffs where nothing flows. A true pain in the ass. This mishmash of pathetic and noisy riffs trying to be heavy with palm muting played on a landing net turned my grin of stupor into a nervous laughter.


And there is even worse.
Remember the beginning of this review. We talked about plagiarism. Listen to Endless Sacrifice : that’s Michael Jackson’s “Give In To Me” and “5 Minutes Alone” by Pantera. Honor Thy Father’s intro is Metallica’s “Damage Inc.”. And Stream Of Consciousness is nothing but “Orion + more counter times”. Are you fucking kidding me? How, tell me how can we support such recycling? That’s just unbelievable. In any normal band, if one of the members shows up with a bunch of CDs to suck all the riffs up only to spit them out in random mode, he’s kicked out of the room… or music magazines would destroy an album built like this, at least… But as for Train Of Thought (and for every album between 2001 and 2007 actually), nothing, or almost. Apparently DT has a particular status. For me it won’t be the case. Time to stop this torture.


In conclusion, Train Of Thought is not a true turd where there is nothing to salvage, but it comes close sometimes. Some good stuff here and there, 2 nice tracks (As I Am and Vacant), and a festival of second-hand creations, mixing classic DT schemes, infamous plagiarism, runs of sextuplets, nonsensical soloing for the most part, nu-metal influences (Mudvayne anyone?) and annoying singing.


Dream Theater is a strange band. After having created some personal music with digested influences, even if there were some misdemeanors, it turned the ratio upside down and played like a tribute band ; personal work becoming minority. Double ambiguity here : as they were often treated like soulless machines at the dawn of the 90s, unwinding solos and breaks neglecting the melody (remember Blind Melon’s bullshit about Pull Me Under back in 1994), when TOT came out their popularity did not stop growing. What staggers me the most is that plenty of metalheads agree without flinching, denying obvious facts, furiously attacking detractors, so long as they get their dope, power and speed, whatever the cost. The fact that DT dudes are great musicians shouldn’t allow them to suck others’ work up. All the albums from 6DOIT to Systematic Chaos raise an ethical problem, a problem of integrity. I suspect that integrity can partially dissolve itself in business world, but there is a minimum rate to be respected, below which a band shouldn’t be recognized as honest. This minimum rate of honesty, Dream Theater didn’t respect it during this period of time, and in my opinion Train Of Thought hit rock bottom.

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cacaman
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:33 am
Posts: 17
Location: France
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:54 am 
 

Oh btw, this review has been rejected due to its "awful formatting and poor writing".
Is it that bad? Really? :scratch:

I would have been honored to contribute to this great site by submitting some of my reviews, so it would be cool if someone could help me and point exactly what i've done wrong. Too many paragraphs? A bunch of english mistakes? Which ones?
Thanks :hail:

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Andromeda_Unchained
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun May 10, 2009 3:46 pm
Posts: 55
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:01 pm 
 

Okay, just a few pointers Cacaman, but I'm in no way an authority on this stuff.

Ditch the double gaps between the paragraphs, I know it can be kind of confusing when it says so but it basically means hit enter...

...And start from here (without the dots, obviously). That's one towards the formatting. Secondly, capping your paragraphs with a short sentence, particularly in the intro with "so..." can be ditched. It doesn't look good, so just keep it to one paragraph. For example;

"I'm not too sure where to begin with this purge, so we'll take it from the top. The beginning of the 00’s was a curve in Dream Theater’s history. Indeed, after their sumptuous “Scenes From a Memory”, the 2 band thinkers Portnoy & Petrucci decided to let the metal side of their music grow. Was it a necessity, really? I wonder when I listen to some tunes like Caught in a Web, Fatal Tragedy..."

That should help you sort the formatting side of it, remember your punctuation, and if you're going to put song titles in " " or italicize album titles make sure you're consistent throughout the review. As for the content, like I'm said I'm not an authority, but there are some parts which, to me, feel unnecessary. For example the paragraph where you write at length about plagiarism is over-indulgent and doesn't serve all that much purpose to the review. Simplify it, say you feel the album feels derivative in place and it reminds of acts such as Pantera and Mudvayne or whatever and leave it at that.

I'm sure some of the other guys will have some wiser words of wisdom for you, but I hope this helps somewhat.

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cacaman
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:33 am
Posts: 17
Location: France
PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:52 pm 
 

Andromeda_Unchained wrote:
but I hope this helps somewhat.


It really does, thanks !!
And I think you're right about the plagiarism passage. I will simplify it to make the review a bit easier to read.
Cheers neighbour :)

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Andrey_Karr
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:04 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Austria
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:44 pm 
 

Hallo, people!

I want to ask here some constructive help to make my "review" better. This is my first ever contribution to Metal Archive and it was turned down by a moderator with the following comment:

"It's ok to focus on the presentation of the material vs. the musical content for a collection like this, but it would still be helpful for people reading your review to hear your opinion on the overall worth of this collection. Is there anything here that a collector who already owns this material would enjoy? Would a newcomer to Sodom be better off buying this, or looking for the albums in their original packaging?"

Here is my text of the review:

Sodom – 5 original albums, 90%

Disclaimer. This is my first contribution to MA ever. It is not a classical review, rather the description of the Box.

My intention here is not to speak about merits of each album in a box. The interested folks should consult the “Reviews” sections of each respective album in the band’s discography. As this edition is a re-release, I will draw your attention to some points, worth keeping in mind before purchasing the box.

As the name suggests, the albums in the box are not remastered and/or remixed. These are the original band recordings.

The first two albums come as original Steamhammer pressings with all additional tracks:
- “Obsessed by Cruelty” has “After the Deluge” as an additional track (No. 6)
- “Persecution Mania” includes four additional tracks: “Outbreak of Evil” (No. 10) and the entire “Expurse of Sodomy” EP 1987 (“Sodomy and Lust”, “Conqueror” and “My Atonement” as tracks No. 11 - 13)

“Mortal Way of Live” comes with “Conjuration” as a bonus-track (No. 14).

“Better Off Dead” comes with two bonus tracks:
- “Cold Sweat” (Thin Lizzy cover, track No. 6)
- “Tarred and Fathered” (track No. 11)

Concerning the design of the box, it should be mentioned that all five CDs come in LP paper sleeves (not jewel case or digi-book!) with original album cover art, except for the “Mortal Way of Live”, where the alternative cover art is used (please, refer to the album description in the discography for more details). There are no booklets or any other inlays with band pictures or lyrics.

As for the CDs themselves, all five albums share the same design pattern: black CD front with silver band logo and the album name typed in red at the bottom. Worth mentioning is an interesting detail on “Mortal Way of Live” CD. Namely, the album name goes as “This Mortal Way of Live” (italicized by me).

In general, I highly recommend this release as a perfect (price/quality/comprehensiveness) introduction to Sodom to those who wish to start or just started their journey with this band. As for the band fans, I doubt they will benefit from buying this 5 CD Box.

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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:55 pm 
 

Andrey_Karr, I can't be too hard on you since this is your first contribution, but I am bound to be honest. As a person who has never heard Sodom, I can safely say that this collection of bland descriptions brings me no closer to either an inkling of what they're like or an inclination to find out. Too many disclaimers, no content. Like .. none. A quick google search of the box set would afford as much info as you've given us here. It's a description of literally the most superficial aspects of a box set and nigh on nada mas.

If you can, imagine you were reading this for the first time. I can tell you it's not an enjoyable experience. It's like being described the texture of notebook paper.

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The Vault Dweller
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:42 pm
Posts: 5
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:21 pm 
 

I love the way no one even replied to the OP.

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MutantClannfear
Metalhead

Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 12:12 am
Posts: 2230
Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:24 pm 
 

The Vault Dweller wrote:
I love the way no one even replied to the OP.

Why would they? It was written by a mod who was establishing the rules of the thread from there onward.

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The Vault Dweller
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:42 pm
Posts: 5
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:26 pm 
 

Ah, I meant myself, I see my problem, being on an iPod, I posted in a thread, when I was attempting to make a new topic. I would like a second opinion on my review from someone, just so I know how/where I fucked up.

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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:08 pm 
 

cacaman wrote:
Oh btw, this review has been rejected due to its "awful formatting and poor writing".
Is it that bad? Really? :scratch:

.. yeah. It's pretty difficult to read and, worse, to make sense of.

Over all it looks like the worst culprit isn't your grasp on English, which seems adequate, so much as basic writing comprehension slackery. Topic sentences (if that's what you want to call them) don't get their own line. Periods of ellipsis are a real thing with a utility. Commas, semi-colons, and periods should be used according to their functions and nowhere else. Proper formatting includes paragraph construction as well as putting single lines between them. Track titles should be in quotes, album titles in italics. You have run-on sentences as well as incomplete ones. Your arguments as well as the paragraph structures range from sloppy to downright confusing. The references to Rush, Blind Melon (??), Tool, etc. and "inspiration corner" are head-scratchers. You don't have to remove the parts about plagiarism, but argue sensibly. Your focus and development are scattered. These are standard corrections any high school English teacher would give, and unless you're writing metal reviews from a desk in grammar school, you're old enough and educated enough to not be writing this way anymore.

It looks like you know more or less what you want to say. It doesn't really matter if you write formally or casually, but you must be clear. Spend more time with your work before submitting it. While you're doing that, read it aloud to yourself. This will make many problems obvious.

If it's your honor to contribute work to the site, put in the effort, and don't hurry. The site's not going anywhere. Submit work you can stand by, even if you know you'll do better in the future.


Last edited by Grave_Wyrm on Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:15 pm 
 

Vault Dweller, what did the rejection note say?

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The Vault Dweller
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:42 pm
Posts: 5
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:28 pm 
 

Nothing.

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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:35 pm 
 

That was basically my reaction to your review, too.

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The Vault Dweller
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:42 pm
Posts: 5
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:36 pm 
 

I'd rather it be absolutely terrible than bland. That's a bit of a bummer. Ah well.

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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:56 pm 
 

Try reading it out loud. I know I say that a lot, but it's one of the most effective ways to demonstrate problems. I just kind of glaze over while I'm reading it. The sentences are pretty long with clunky transition. Also, it comes off like you could do some decent comparisons between this and other work, but you just don't feel like it. I doubt you're actually a boring writer. Put more effort into making it something you'd like to read yourself.

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iamntbatman
Chaos Breed

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:55 am
Posts: 7527
Location: Innsmouth
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:09 am 
 

Andrey_Karr, to elaborate on my rejection message:

In most cases, a box set collection of albums like this could appeal to two possible groups of people. First, it could be something collectors who are already fans of the band might be interested in buying, either because it contains hard-to-find/out-of-print albums, bonus material like b-sides from album singles or "never before released" stuff like demo/promo/live versions of album tracks, or songs culled from album sessions. It might also have new and more detailed liner notes, fantastic new packaging and/or artwork, or other trinkets or goodies that might appeal to big fans. Second, it might be a good "starting point" for new listeners to the band who could get a good deal on several of the band's albums this way. However, if there's missing content, worse art, lame albums or other stuff included that results in a high price tag that could be avoided by buying albums individually, etc., then people might want to know that.

While your review does give a very dry description of some of the elements of the collection, it doesn't really offer any insight into whether or not this is a worthwhile buy for either of the two groups of potential buyers because it doesn't really give your opinion on all of the things I just mentioned. If I'm new to Sodom, should I buy this collection, or should I buy those five albums separately, or just some of them? Are there albums by Sodom I should look for before worrying about having all five albums in this collection? Or, if I'm a collector who owns all of these albums already, is there anything here that makes this worth purchasing? If so, why? If not, why not?
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Andrey_Karr
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:04 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Austria
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:22 pm 
 

Thanx to everyone who replied with useful remarks to my message about Sodom. As I said, the point was not to talk about the music/content (look for the albums in the discography), rather about the features of the edition.
I will take everything into consideration and if I get more inspiration, I will work on the text more. Cheers.

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DarthVenom
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2003 10:56 am
Posts: 611
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:30 pm 
 

Andrey_Karr wrote:
Thanx to everyone who replied with useful remarks to my message about Sodom. As I said, the point was not to talk about the music/content (look for the albums in the discography), rather about the features of the edition.
I will take everything into consideration and if I get more inspiration, I will work on the text more. Cheers.


You could think about how the five albums showcased in the boxset chart Sodom's professional growth as a band. That approach would more-or-less force you to discuss the music on each disc, while at the same time viewing it through the lens of the boxset format.

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Azmodes
Ultranaut

Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:44 am
Posts: 5805
Location: Gradec, Austria
PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:07 am 
 

The Vault Dweller wrote:
Grave_Wyrm wrote:
Vault Dweller, what did the rejection note say?

Nothing.

That's not really possible, unless the rejecting mod literally only sent you a couple of spaces or hyphens or the word "nothing." There must have been some kind of reason given.
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hardturdbutthurt
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:55 pm
Posts: 2
Location: Germany
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 5:40 am 
 

Hi,

I've translated a review I've written for a German online mag. Would be great if an native English speaker could quickly proofread it before I submit it. I'm quite happy with the German version, but not with the English. I can't really say why, though. I just feel like it could be improved.

Thanks!

Here's the text:

Manheim - 2013 - Nihil

The black metal aficionados will have guessed that the band name Manheim is an homage to the legendary Mayhem, whose very first drummer goes by the name of Kjetil Manheim. There is also a rather odd track suitably titled “(Weird) Manheim” on Mayhem’s game-changing “Deathcrush” EP from 1987. In case anyone should find this reference too obscure, Manheim point to their main inspiration more explicitly with a cover of the song “Deathcrush”. As further influences, the band itself names Satyricon, Vreid, Darkthrone and Khold. The result is straightforward, entertaining and – the album title says it all – nihilistic black metal with a nice groove.

„Nihil“ is a short album (30 minutes), but a strong one on which even the slower songs don’t serve as fillers. On the contrary: „Hitting the Wall“ and „U početku bijaše kaos“, thick and heavy as lava, belong to the highlights of the album. The faster songs („Kreatura“, „Prigrli besmisao“) come with a catchy rock’n’roll drive. The formula is simple and well-known, but it works. A few subtle nuances here and there, a guitar solo or some piano accords, add depth and variety to the songs, and emphasize the overall depressive tone.

Manheim succeeded in creating an impressively bleak atmosphere on their debut, not least due to the strong, coarse voice of vocalist Mamut and his misanthropic, profoundly desperate lyrics: „My boat is sinking/And there’s nothing I can do”, he screams, very believably, on “Sinking”. This very much reminds of Darkthrone, back when they were still humorless, and wrote things like: „Let's leave this sinking ship together/The water of life will fill your lungs” („Hate Them“, 2003). Half of Manheim’s lyrics are in Croatian, another proof of how well the expressive Slavic languages blend with the inherent rawness of black metal.

Not only fans of Mayhem will love this. This is an exciting new band with great potential. Be sure to at least give „Hitting the Wall“ and „Sinking“ a try.

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Metantoine
The XVI, dominar to over 258714 subjects

Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:00 pm
Posts: 8653
Location: Québec
PostPosted: Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:16 am 
 

The musical description is pretty low, it's only in the 2nd paragraph and I would say it's not enough to be approved. I feel you spent too much time introducing the band compared to the actual reviewing job. Also, the quotation marks are fucked up, it should be "like that". The translation seems fine so that's not the issue.
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hardturdbutthurt
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:55 pm
Posts: 2
Location: Germany
PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:42 am 
 

Thanks, mate, that's helpful. The quotation marks are German btw. Will change that.

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Mistereyedee
Metal newbie

Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:54 am
Posts: 153
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:05 pm 
 

I'd like to know what you guys think of my review for Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power:
Quote:
Honestly, I never could understand what a lot of people saw in Pantera -- particularly this album -- that granted them "legendary" status. To even claim that this slab of musical illiteracy "saved" metal from its demise in its darkest moments is absurd; if anything, this album can be pinpointed as the very blueprint for some of today's mainstream "metal" bands: Slipknot, Lamb of God, Disturbed, and Nickelback (yes, you heard me right).

Another thing that irritates me about this side to Pantera is how so many of their fans didn't know or care to hear their music UNTIL after Diamond Darrell's tragic murder nearly ten years ago, performing for the infinitely awful Damageplan. All the "R.I.P. Dime" and "GETCHA PULL!" posts I see on the Web only confirm my stance on Pantera's overall fans, and it's a sad revelation that such a potential band not only turned to complete shit with THIS album, but a huge sum of the fans representing IQs that don't exceed two digits.

Aside from all the hype, let's get on with what I truly think about the album:

You'll obviously notice how this album marked the band's departure from ALL elements that made even Cowboys from Hell worth listening to: falsettos, fast-paced metal songs, complex songwriting, etc.

To transition from the majestic Power Metal to this lazy, boring pile of crud is just sad. "Walk" is obviously the worst song on this album (or any Pantera album, for that matter; that even includes the embarrassing Metal Magic), so I won't get into beating the dead horse.

Also, to be honest, I could never listen to this album in one sitting, so the most I could do was listen to separate songs in random order.

We start off with "Mouth for War", which is certainly the album's only shining moment, but not by much. The opening riff and pre-verse riff are both catchy and heavy, but the potential this one had on at least becoming a decent song is marred by Phil Anselmo's rancid horseshit "vocals" (compared to what he was capable of two albums ago, this is rightly so an insult to a legacy he could have built up on), with lyrics declaring how "tough" and "menacing" him and Pantera are; however, let's face it: if not for Anselmo being aware of that one thrash metal band from New Orleans, Pantera would have likely never made it big (it would have been for the best if they stuck to playing Judas Priest-worship metal in small clubs for the rest of their lives). Now, what about the guitars on that song? Does our guitar hero, Diamond Darrell, come saving the day with his overbearing misuse of pinch harmonics? Not really, as he tends to be repetitive with the same chord progressions throughout the song. I did find it cool that he reused that interlude riff from "Death Trap", but that's about it. Vinnie Paul just plays the same predictable shit on the drums, and it's yawn-inducing, to say the least. Well, I guess the few seconds of speed metal at the very end (akin to Black Sabbath's "Into the Void") must have given the listener a sigh of relief that this album just MIGHT not suck, after all. And then, it turns out, said listener was wrong.

"This Love" and "Hollow", two of the album's token ballads, are simply useless. I'll just talk about how much I dislike the former, however, because that one is worse than the latter (that's not to say "Hollow" is even half-decent): if you wanted to know where Slipknot found their "trademark" sound, look no further than when Mr. "Tuff Guy" Anselmo belts out "YOU TAEK DIS LUV!" at the chorus like a 'tard. The lyrics don't even make any fucking sense, and I'm afraid reciting them here would cause anyone reading this to lose significant amounts of IQ in one sitting; don't say I didn't warn you. Other than the hillbilly posturing in the lyrics, Diamond's guitars do very little to save this song from becoming a tragic shitfest; all he does is go back and forth, from random noodling to lazy chords. Oh, but there's at least DISTORTION -- "heavy", indeed.

A lot of people speaking in defense of this album like to point out how "great" the song "Fucking Hostile" is, but I really must disagree; while it is the thrashiest (but not thrash metal) song on the album, its execution is on the other end of the pole. Diamond Darrell certainly still had some tolerable riff ideas in him at this point, but it was clear that he'd already been running out of them since recording Cowboys from Hell (just listen to the nu-chugging "Primal Concrete Sledge" to see what I mean). At the very least, the song isn't your mindless, lazy chugging (unlike most of the songs).

"Rise" starts off really heavy and fast -- for up to twenty seconds, at least -- and then it becomes just another typical groove/half-thrash metal song that cues skipping. Although the vocal delivery is still just as awful elsewhere, it's nice to know that there's at least ONE Pantera song out there that isn't just about the jock-catering angst that's otherwise displayed on supremely bland songs like "Walk". Don't get your hopes up for the sake of assuming that Pantera was capable of writing intelligent or thoughtful lyrics, however, as the simple mention of them speaking out against corporate swine or trends (ironic, given how THEY jumped on the lifting of Exhorder's image and sound to avoid being a forgotten pop rock act) is a mildly disguised trick for them. (Speaking of politics, I remember being around smokers in high school that went on about this "Phil Anselmo for President" drivel; it would have been dark times indeed for proud wearers of bullet belts and spiked gauntlets...)

Anyway, I've ratted on about this album, and I certainly don't want to repeat myself on the next few Pantera songs which are just as bad as the aforementioned -- or worse. All I know is this: Vulgar Display of Power is a misrepresentation of what real thrash is all about (as well as the overall Texas metal scene; what about Helstar or Rigor Mortis, eh?), and it was the flagship album to have inspired countless of even worse bands to butcher our ears (e.g. Godsmack, Korn, Lamb of God, Limp Bizkit, HIM, Bullet for My Valentine). The very fact that people jumped on THIS album is just sad, especially considering the fact that there were much better death metal bands around that time tearing shit apart.

Had the band applied better songwriting approaches to this album in the vein of their last two albums, it likely would have been much better. It's not like I WANT to hate on this album; everyone in Pantera was at their musical prime in this era, but they put very little into it. Shit, they could have indeed become the "gods" that so many scene kids dutifully worship.

It's no wonder I can't get past Cowboys from Hell, and even that album had some really lame songs.

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w0Lf
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2005 1:04 am
Posts: 127
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:45 pm 
 

@Mistereyedee: Take this with a grain of salt, because the only review I've ever written was recently rejected. However, it was rejected for too many personal attacks against the band and too little actual content. I'd say your review is similarly flawed, in that the description of the music takes a back seat to slogging the band's members and reputation. The musical part of your review seems promising, but needs expanding. You may also want to generalize your descriptions and move away from the track-by-track format.

BTW: I agree with your review. VDoP is proto-numetal and deserves every last ounce of the ridicule it gets.
~~~

Below is my review for Agalloch - The Mantle. Now, I am aware the musical description needs expanding, that I can do. However, how can I tone down the ad-hominems to acceptable levels while retaining a bit of 'bite'? I'm thinking I could cut/rewrite most of the first paragraph, the last few ideas in the second, and rework the beginning of the third. I think my 4th paragraph is fine as is but needs expanding.

I welcome any and all suggestions.

Spoiler: show
Quote:
Starbucks "Metal" -25%

What we have here is not a metal album, but rather, a folk/indie/post-rock album dressed up with some superficial metal flourishes. And like most pretend metal, the metal element in Agalloch's music is only there as a marketing ploy designed to sucker naïve metal heads into purchasing their sub-par rock music. It's really not too different from how Slipknot incorporates the occasional third-rate death metal riff into their post-grunge. The intended demographic may be different for these two bands (Slipknot goes for Hot Topic teeny boppers while Agalloch targets navel-gazing neck-bearded 20-somethings) but the social engineering tactics are the same: use metal to make your musical product seem "edgy" and "nonconformist", because without the metal façade you have nothing to differentiate your boring mainstream drivel from everyone else's boring mainstream drivel. Indeed, when you strip away the the scratchy vocals, the ripped off Ulver riffs, and the "nature mystic" themes, all that's left is a miserable little Godspeed You Black Emperor cum Fleet Foxes mash-up whose only purpose is to serve as a personality accessory for those who want to appear "cultured" and "sophisticated" to their friends.

Lyrics range from unremarkable but passable nature poetry to downright awful emo whining, often within the same song. Take for example the track In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion: From what I gather, it is about a guy in existential turmoil who goes off into the forest in search of meaning. This is all well and good, until around half way through the song when the guy decides to make a "crimson offering" to the river -- in other words, cut himself like an attention seeking emo brat. Yeah, real deep Agaylloch. Next thing you know they'll write a song featuring the equally contrived emo topic of lost love. Well, actually, that's exactly what "A Desolation Song" is, whose self-pitying lovelorn lyrics resemble something My Chemical Romance would shit out. Listen up, Agalloch: if you're going to pretend to be metal, there are some things you should know. Metal isn't supposed to wallow in petty emotional problems. Keep those thoughts and feelings confined to your private facebook page. Instead, try writing about something that makes your emotional bellyaching seem trivial in comparison. It doesn't have to be nuclear war or cosmic horror, the majesty of nature is a perfectly legitimate metal subject. Just don't pollute it with the effluvia from your broken heart.

Of course, the cringe-inducing moments found in the lyrics could all be forgiven if Agalloch actually produced music of value. This is not the case. The Mantle is a lot like elevator music: it makes for pleasant, inoffensive background noise, but if you give it your undivided attention, you realize just how tedious and vapid it really is. Of course, this particular brand of elevator music is adorned with "melancholy" minor chords and "poignant" post-rock leads so it can be branded by Pitchfork as "revolutionary". But The Mantle is far from revolutionary -- in fact, it's quite formulaic. Most of the songs plod along at mid-tempo, following bland neofolk/indie progressions laid out by either acoustic strumming or arpeggiated electric guitar. Layered on top of these progressions is the lead noodling which attempts to inject some variety into the songs by introducing new moods and textures, though it ends up just floundering about through various effects pedals. Drums are relegated to timekeeping and play standard rock beats; sometimes they attempt to play in a "metal" style which results in much hilarity (prepare to for some of the wimpiest blast beats you'll ever hear). Vocals switch between a scratchy black metal rasp that has been sapped of all vitality, and lukewarm clean singing that is reminiscent of Garm's estrogen-fueled crooning on the first Ulver album. Haphazardly throw in some "eclectic" sounds like deer skull percussion, foreign film samples, and mandolin solos for diversity points with the Starbucks crowd, and BAM! You've got yourself a band that has the rebellious appeal of metal without any of that evil sounding discordance or scary non-PC ideologies.

Song writing on The Mantle is about what you'd expect from such a stylistically confused outfit. The compositions here are pointless; they are essentially collages of moods and atmospheres that express nothing outside of effete melancholy and the whole "trees are like, deep, and stuff" shtick. Actually, "composition" is the wrong word. What we really have here are jams: they ride a chord progression incessantly and noodle on top of it for twelve minutes, followed by a half-assed "climax" that is indistinguishable from the rest of the track save for being slightly less lethargic. No change in perspective is conveyed, and the listener is left wondering "was I supposed to feel something besides boredom"? To be fair, there are few captivating melodies interspersed throughout these jams, but it's really not worth subjecting yourself to the rest of this drab morass of sound just to hear them.

The scene heralds this release as some kind of innovative leap forward for metal, but in reality, The Mantle is a substandard repackaging, rebranding, and recombining of already established styles for mass consumption. This flavor-of-the-month tripe will wind up in the bargain bin as soon as the indie "metal" trend blows over.
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Zodijackyl
Lazy Wizard

Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:39 pm
Posts: 4842
Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:10 am 
 

The problem was that you're just throwing petty attacks at fans of the band and equating it to stuff that is tangentially related and included primarily for the purpose of offending fans of the music. You're also imagining way too much intent - the social engineering part is laughable. It seems like you're blissfully unaware that there are a lot of people who both like and want to make simple catchy, pop-like music of some form and their goals with making this album aren't to defile the sanctity of metal and become rock stars, they're just making boring distorted folk rock/metal. I don't remember what this sounds like too well as I don't like the band and haven't listened to this album in a decade, but you're writing like a teabagger slandering Obama on Facebook.

w0Lf wrote:
What we have here is not a metal album, but rather, a folk/indie/post-rock album dressed up with some superficial metal flourishes. And like most pretend metal, the metal element in Agalloch's music is only there as a marketing ploy designed to sucker naïve metal heads into purchasing their sub-par rock music. It's really not too different from how Slipknot incorporates the occasional third-rate death metal riff into their post-grunge. The intended demographic may be different for these two bands (Slipknot goes for Hot Topic teeny boppers while Agalloch targets navel-gazing neck-bearded 20-somethings) but the social engineering tactics are the same: use metal to make your musical product seem "edgy" and "nonconformist", because without the metal façade you have nothing to differentiate your boring mainstream drivel from everyone else's boring mainstream drivel. Indeed, when you strip away the the scratchy vocals, the ripped off Ulver riffs, and the "nature mystic" themes, all that's left is a miserable little Godspeed You Black Emperor cum Fleet Foxes mash-up whose only purpose is to serve as a personality accessory for those who want to appear "cultured" and "sophisticated" to their friends.

Lyrics range from unremarkable but passable nature poetry to downright awful emo whining, often within the same song. Take for example the track In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion: From what I gather, it is about a guy in existential turmoil who goes off into the forest in search of meaning. This is all well and good, until around half way through the song when the guy decides to make a "crimson offering" to the river -- in other words, cut himself like an attention seeking emo brat. Yeah, real deep Agaylloch. Next thing you know they'll write a song featuring the equally contrived emo topic of lost love. Well, actually, that's exactly what "A Desolation Song" is, whose self-pitying lovelorn lyrics resemble something My Chemical Romance would shit out. Listen up, Agalloch: if you're going to pretend to be metal, there are some things you should know. Metal isn't supposed to wallow in petty emotional problems. Keep those thoughts and feelings confined to your private facebook page. Instead, try writing about something that makes your emotional bellyaching seem trivial in comparison. It doesn't have to be nuclear war or cosmic horror, the majesty of nature is a perfectly legitimate metal subject. Just don't pollute it with the effluvia from your broken heart.

Of course, the cringe-inducing moments found in the lyrics could all be forgiven if Agalloch actually produced music of value. This is not the case. The Mantle is a lot like elevator music: it makes for pleasant, inoffensive background noise, but if you give it your undivided attention, you realize just how tedious and vapid it really is. Of course, this particular brand of elevator music is adorned with "melancholy" minor chords and "poignant" post-rock leads so it can be branded by Pitchfork as "revolutionary". But The Mantle is far from revolutionary -- in fact, it's quite formulaic. Most of the songs plod along at mid-tempo, following bland neofolk/indie progressions laid out by either acoustic strumming or arpeggiated electric guitar. Layered on top of these progressions is the lead noodling which attempts to inject some variety into the songs by introducing new moods and textures, though it ends up just floundering about through various effects pedals. Drums are relegated to timekeeping and play standard rock beats; sometimes they attempt to play in a "metal" style which results in much hilarity (prepare to for some of the wimpiest blast beats you'll ever hear). Vocals switch between a scratchy black metal rasp that has been sapped of all vitality, and lukewarm clean singing that is reminiscent of Garm's estrogen-fueled crooning on the first Ulver album. Haphazardly throw in some "eclectic" sounds like deer skull percussion, foreign film samples, and mandolin solos for diversity points with the Starbucks crowd, and BAM! You've got yourself a band that has the rebellious appeal of metal without any of that evil sounding discordance or scary non-PC ideologies.

Song writing on The Mantle is about what you'd expect from such a stylistically confused outfit. The compositions here are pointless; they are essentially collages of moods and atmospheres that express nothing outside of effete melancholy and the whole "trees are like, deep, and stuff" shtick. Actually, "composition" is the wrong word. What we really have here are jams: they ride a chord progression incessantly and noodle on top of it for twelve minutes, followed by a half-assed "climax" that is indistinguishable from the rest of the track save for being slightly less lethargic. No change in perspective is conveyed, and the listener is left wondering "was I supposed to feel something besides boredom"? To be fair, there are few captivating melodies interspersed throughout these jams, but it's really not worth subjecting yourself to the rest of this drab morass of sound just to hear them.

The scene heralds this release as some kind of innovative leap forward for metal, but in reality, The Mantle is a substandard repackaging, rebranding, and recombining of already established styles for mass consumption. This flavor-of-the-month tripe will wind up in the bargain bin as soon as the indie "metal" trend blows over.


Wait a minute...

"This flavor-of-the-month tripe will wind up in the bargain bin as soon as the indie "metal" trend blows over."

Flavor of the month? This album came out over 11 years ago and you're attacking it on ideological grounds treating it like a trend that's going to blow over. Did you write this review 10 years ago? I'm almost certain your disdain is driven by the long wave of bands inspired by stuff like this, because this type of music has had a relatively high profile due to appeal to non-metal/mainstreamish fans.

I'd rate the album around the same score you did and I can't stand the band (I fell asleep during their set when they were direct support for Autopsy) but you could make the point much better without all the petty whining.

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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:29 am 
 

w0lf: In preservation of "bite," got at it with a hatchet and carve out all the "cute." You'll probably end up back at your original outline (hopefully you had one). Frankly, it weakens your position and dulls the teeth you clearly want to sink gums-deep into the flank of this band. Just say what you think and why you think it. This style of slander basically just comes off hypocritical, since you're accusing them of precious emo whinery when the review itself is pretty whiny. I'm not saying you have to play nice, obviously, but accuracy is always more cutting than belabored condescension. You already feel like you can expand on the musical description, so just focus on that and cut out the know-it-all. Basically this means distilling the first paragraph, amputating the second one entirely, reworking the rest of it, and fleshing out what you already know should have been there in the first place before you got carried away in hipster bashing.

Basically, "criticize better."

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DarthVenom
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2003 10:56 am
Posts: 611
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:33 pm 
 

Always keep in mind the signal-to-noise ratio when reviewing. I don't really have a strong opinion one way or another on Agalloch, but that is the kind of review that I tend to pass by without taking seriously. When it comes to reviews, I tend to drown out people who get hung up on criticizing a fanbase or other tertiary aspects of a band, because it's noise when I'm there to read about the music.

There are ways to add bite and snark to a review without resorting to petty condescension, and a good start would be to focus more of your ire on the music instead of the image you have of their fanbase. A well-written review will get the reader on your side and make them understand your point of view even when they disagree with your evaluation, but as you can see, even Zodi who doesn't like Agalloch found your review unappealing.

You already have plenty of musical description in there, and when reading your review I do feel like I would get a sense of the album if I had never heard it before, so I recommend tweaking the review to focus on that.

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w0Lf
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2005 1:04 am
Posts: 127
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:53 am 
 

Thanks for the feedback, all. Amazing how biased one can be towards their own creations -- I was sure my review was golden, and it is only after reading the criticisms of more seasoned reviewers (aka you guys) that I realized just how misguided it really was. I'll revamp this sucker in the near future and post it here to make sure it's up to par.
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iamntbatman
Chaos Breed

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:55 am
Posts: 7527
Location: Innsmouth
PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:13 am 
 

Yeah, basically you lose me after the first sentence (for a while anyway). As someone who enjoys Agalloch but isn't a die-hard fan, your first sentence there is still pretty much 100% accurate; the band's music on the release is absolutely more focused on indie-ish folk music/neofolk and post-rockisms than it is on metal. As someone who is highly critical of the band, you do bring up compelling points: you feel that the end-result of the band's music basically isn't a good fit for the metallic costume they wear while they present the material, which is a wholly valid complaint. You've got some good musical description there, but expounding on why you think the band fails to be convincing as a metal act while utilizing non-metal elements would make for a much more powerful review no matter your audience. People who like the band would better understand your grievances and would respect your opinion, while people who similarly dislike the band may find value in a thorough examination of why the band's music fails. Attacking the fans or making sort of non-sequitur musical comparisons to bands that (let's be honest here) are totally dissimilar musically, like My Chemical Romance, when there are plenty of more appropriate comparisons to be made that would convey your distaste for the band just as thoroughly (Woods of Ypres would be a good one) just seems like simple bashing of the band's fans by comparing them to bands they'll dislike Agalloch being associated with while missing out on great opportunities to be more accurate and therefore more effectively critical in your derision.

Short version: your third and fourth paragraphs, being straightforward in their description and criticism, are your best, and passages like "You've got yourself a band that has the rebellious appeal of metal without any of that evil sounding discordance" are points that deserve to be expanded upon.
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Implar
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun May 16, 2010 4:50 am
Posts: 86
Location: Belgium
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:07 pm 
 

Hi all,

I'm wanting to delve into reviewing (metal) albums, as I feel it's a way of pushing myself to further analyse the music I listen to, instead of mindlessly listening to it. I decided to review an album that doesn't have any reviews yet, as I don't think I can add anything useful with yet another Master of Puppets review. Would you mind reading what I have typed up and giving me some advice?

I feel like I don't want to make (this) review too long, and make it as monotonous as the album itself. I'm also not sure if what I did is too gimmicky for it's own good. The review has not yet been submitted to MA, and I haven't done any proper formatting yet. I still have to look up when to use italics and quotes on titles and band names :)

Quote:
Devastation - Leather Jack Maniac

It’s a calm Sunday evening, I’m browsing the web, whisky in hand and iTunes set to shuffle. Numerous bands come and go and I’m selling peace, riding the lightning, striking down the beast and raising the flag of hate. When my tankard is empty, I curse the gods and mentally prepare for the heavy task of getting out of my chair to replenish the fine distillate of fermented barley.

The next track comes on and tells me: Cops don’t like me, and I don’t like cops. Sirens wailing in the background, the voice races off, leaving only a trail of smoke, rubber, a face-melting riff and my curiosity. Further investigation reveals the culprit is Devastation, a Belgian thrash outfit that somehow infiltrated it’s way in my collection.

After pouring myself another glass of uisge beatha, I turn off shuffle mode and am eager to hear more of this Belgian incarnation. The album starts of with Drink Till We Die, a high paced thrash-attack shoving it’s fist in my unsuspecting face. It continues to do so, to the point I need a small break halfway through the album.

There’s no lack of in your face aggression on this 37 minute, 10 track affair, but it is lacking in other departments, to the point where I learn to anticipate it’s strikes. Every song goes all out, having the same tempo and song writing template. Furthermore, the tracks are as memorable as taking a midnight dump.

The vocalist spits out his words with vigour, the drums try and pummel you into submission and the guitars….the guitars are as boring and monotone as watching Bill Clinton count his dollar bills. There are almost no interesting, engaging or inventive riffs on this entire album. As soon as they try to be a bit flashy, the sloppiness overrules that feeling. The intro to To Serve And Protect that caught my attention earlier on is one of the only ones above average.

Well, with a high octane thrash album, the shredding solo’s must be of some quality, right? Well, it seems all of the solo’s love thrash metal so much, they must have built a time machine and set it to 1986, as there are none to be found here. The drums have a nice fill here and there, but that’s about it.

When all is said and done, this fight comes down to the judges, who give me the victory by split decision. Leather Jack Maniac isn’t a bad album, it’s just too bland to be considered a good thrash metal album. The attitude is right where it should be, but it needs much more refinement. I have enjoyed the song when it came on, but I made the mistake of turning off shuffle and listening to the entire album.

Songs to look out for: Kill The Messiah, Devastation and To Serve And Protect.

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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:11 pm 
 

Found it a boring review for what is, according to this review, an aggressive, but meh band.

I don't need a whole paragraph about the experience with your beer. It's a curious way to come to review an album: "I was having a beer, and randomly careening through my iTunes when I happened upon an album that wasn't very good, so I stopped everything, listened to it, and wrote a review without a whole lot more than the minimum to say about it."

Give examples, some comparisons, and more description. Be sparing with casual filler.

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VariedTastes
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:24 pm
Posts: 140
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:14 pm 
 

Hey guys, I've just started reviewing. My first submission was accepted and I know it wasn't a good review. However, I now have a second accepted review that I'm much happier with and I'd like to see what you guys think of it. What you like, what you dislike, anything!

If you play melodic death metal and your lyrics are about Vikings, comparisons to Amon Amarth are inevitable. Many bands are influenced by Amon Amarth to be sure, and for good reasons. However, in the case of Dagaz’s first full length, From Ancient Wisdom, being influenced by occasionally gives way to borderline plagiarism.

Musically, the most accurate description of this Quebec group’s debut is that it sounds like combination of parts of all of Amon Amarth’s albums, with perhaps a bit more melody. Thodrekr Krighammer’s vocals sound remarkably like Johan Hegg’s distinctive roar, and he also makes use of an occasional blackened rasp. Like Amon Amarth, Dagaz makes use of two guitarists to create powerful, memorable riffs which also contain a fair amount of melody and are quite exceptional on tracks like “From Ancient Wisdom” and “The Great Dawn”. Solos are common and are thoughtfully placed as to make them most effective. The drummer hammers throughout the album and gives a convincing performance with a number of fills to keep things interesting without going overboard and becoming distracting.

Much of the album is mid-paced, but slower songs like “Last Stand of the Hard-Ruler” as well as breaks between songs and some faster songs like “The Bane of Giants” keep things from getting monotonous. The production is great and all instruments can be heard without getting into ‘too polished’ territory. The song structures aren’t particularly innovative and indeed nothing but one part of the album, a part of the song “From Ancient Wisdom”, surprised me. That’s not exactly a bad thing though; better to remain grounded in tradition than to attempt to forage a new path and fail miserably. The part that did surprise me though was my favorite part of the album. Towards the end of “From Ancient Wisdom”, a breakdown begins with a great and audible bass line, as well as a solo soaring over the crushing guitars down below. Ordinarily I’m not a fan of breakdowns at all but this one just crushes.

I’ve talked a decent amount of what I liked about From Ancient Wisdom, but as you can see from the score I’ve given it, the album has a few flaws. I mentioned earlier that the album contains what I’d consider borderline plagiarism. There were a few times during the album where I found myself thinking, “Where have I heard this before?” Now, ordinarily I wouldn’t take points off for lack of originality, but the song “Riding ‘Til the End” sounds so similar to Amon Amarth’s song “Varyags of Miklagaard” that I felt I had to dock a few. Additionally, there are a few songs that are weaker than the others on the album that failed to hold my attention completely.

So, what can you expect from Dagaz’s From Ancient Wisdom? Well, quite a bit as it turns out. Each member of the band performs with enthusiasm and a degree of skill that is uncommon in a band’s first album, and if some fantastic, Amon Amarth sounding melodic death metal sounds like something you’d enjoy you’ll surely like From Ancient Wisdom. I’m quite impressed with this release and although it’s not the most original album ever, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen and headbang to, and I’m looking forward to what these Canadians put out next.
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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:05 am 
 

VariedTastes: notes are in the spoiler

Spoiler: show
VariedTastes wrote:
Hey guys, I've just started reviewing. My first submission was accepted and I know it wasn't a good review. However, I now have a second accepted review that I'm much happier with and I'd like to see what you guys think of it. What you like, what you dislike, anything!

Wait, what album is this!? Where am I? What score did you give it?

If you play melodic death metal and your lyrics are about Vikings, comparisons to Amon Amarth are inevitable. Many bands are influenced by Amon Amarth to be sure, and for good reasons. However, in the case of Dagaz’s first full length, From Ancient Wisdom, being influenced by occasionally gives way to borderline plagiarism.

The way it appears here, I expect you to talk about plagiarism right away. I recommend either 1) sprinkling more examples of this borderline plagiarism throughout the musical description, or 2) bringing it up as a topic all its own later on instead of referencing this sentence. Also, album titles should be italicized.

Musically, the most accurate description of this Quebec group’s debut is that it sounds like combination of parts of all of Amon Amarth’s albums, with perhaps a bit more melody. Thodrekr Krighammer’s vocals sound remarkably like Johan Hegg’s distinctive roar, and he also makes use of an occasional blackened rasp. Like Amon Amarth, Dagaz makes use of two guitarists to create powerful, memorable riffs which also contain a fair amount of melody and are quite exceptional on tracks like “From Ancient Wisdom” and “The Great Dawn”. Solos are common and are thoughtfully placed as to make them most effective. The drummer hammers throughout the album and gives a convincing performance with a number of fills to keep things interesting without going overboard and becoming distracting.

After the second sentence, this paragraph kind of falters. The third sentence has good content, but it rambles. Perhaps breaking it into two would help? More importantly, though, tell us more about the solos, their placement, and what makes them effective. It's a matter of a few words difference, but this is too vague. Call "the drummer" by name, and add some context to what makes his performance "convincing." I'm not sure what that means.

Much of the album is mid-paced, but slower songs like “Last Stand of the Hard-Ruler” as well as breaks between songs and some faster songs like “The Bane of Giants” keep things from getting monotonous. The production is great and all instruments can be heard without getting into ‘too polished’ territory. The song structures aren’t particularly innovative and indeed nothing but one part of the album, a part of the song “From Ancient Wisdom”, surprised me. That’s not exactly a bad thing though; better to remain grounded in tradition than to attempt to *forage* a new path and fail miserably. The part that did surprise me though was my favorite part of the album. Towards the end of “From Ancient Wisdom”, a breakdown begins with a great and audible bass line, as well as a solo soaring over the crushing guitars down below. Ordinarily I’m not a fan of breakdowns at all but this one just crushes.

*forge*
"A great and audible bass line, as well as a solo" .. pretty bland description for your favorite part of the album. Is this one of those times you mentioned when a solo is used effectively? How so?


I’ve talked a decent amount of what I liked about From Ancient Wisdom, but as you can see from the score I’ve given it, the album has a few flaws. I mentioned earlier that the album contains what I’d consider borderline plagiarism. There were a few times during the album where I found myself thinking, “Where have I heard this before?” Now, ordinarily I wouldn’t take points off for lack of originality, but the song “Riding ‘Til the End” sounds so similar to Amon Amarth’s song “Varyags of Miklagaard” that I felt I had to dock a few. Additionally, there are a few songs that are weaker than the others on the album that failed to hold my attention completely.

Elaborate here on the plagiarism and the weaknesses of the other songs. In the end, this will probably be the main interest point of the review, since the rest is basically introductory description.

So, what can you expect from Dagaz’s From Ancient Wisdom? Well, quite a bit as it turns out. Each member of the band performs with enthusiasm and a degree of skill that is uncommon in a band’s first album, and if some fantastic, Amon Amarth sounding melodic death metal sounds like something you’d enjoy you’ll surely like From Ancient Wisdom. I’m quite impressed with this release and although it’s not the most original album ever, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen and headbang to, and I’m looking forward to what these Canadians put out next.

Not a bad go, honestly. Clean up some of the run-on tendency, and flesh out the more interesting too-close-for-comfort similarities between Dagaz and Amon Amarth. There's always going to be worship, but what was it that these guys did that took it too far for you? I don't mean that girth has to be added to the review, just more evocative language. Generally speaking, your quality of description fluctuates, and it feels like you're holding back, honestly. Also, give your punctuation a second look. There are nits to be picked.

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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:21 am 
 

Implar wrote:
I'm wanting to delve into reviewing (metal) albums, as I feel it's a way of pushing myself to further analyse the music I listen to, instead of mindlessly listening to it. ... I haven't done any proper formatting yet. I still have to look up when to use italics and quotes on titles and band names :)

Wanted to get back to this, since I overlooked some stuff. Formatting is very important here, so learn how to do it properly.
Band names are written as they appear on the profile or album cover or whatever. Album titles are italicized. Song titles are in quotes.

Emperor, IX Equilibrium, "An Elegy of Icaros"

I definitely want to support your enthusiasm for writing reviews. It can be super fun. It's a unique way to delve into music. But I would definitely recommend writing a review for an album you like, or even know well, until you have a handle on it. The only two I've written have been for things I haven't liked all that much just because they were on hand, and while the second is a lot better than the first, neither is the kind of thing I'd actually LIKE to review. I'm sure you can find one you like that doesn't have many (or any) reviews. In any event, listen to the album more than once at least before writing. Only experienced reviewers can knock them off rapidly, and even then they aren't guaranteed to be all that good. If you're doing it for fun, have fun with it. You can turn up all kinds of things you might never have thought of if you hadn't taken the time to study.

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theunrelentingattack
Not yet ready for a custom title

Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:18 pm
Posts: 705
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:20 am 
 

@implar - I think Grave_Wyrm is correct here. If you haven't reviewed before, write some easy ones to start with to get the creative juices flowing. And read the ones on here already. They are varying levels of quality of course but it will show you what's acceptable.

As far as the review here goes, I stopped reading when you poured yourself another glass. I realize you're trying to convey the setting you're listening to the music in but people come here to read about the music not picture you sitting in your drawers with a bottle of whiskey. If you want to work it in how it's perfect whiskey drinking music, that's different.

Continue to write man, i encourage that - but read it back to yourself afterwards (sober) and see if you still like it. Hammer home the substance up front and make people want to keep reading.
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In a recent review: "I didn't expect any "new" record by any "new" band to blow me like this."

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VariedTastes
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:24 pm
Posts: 140
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:36 pm 
 

@Grave-Wyrm - Thanks for the feed back! I had the album titles italicized in the word doc I used to type it up. Not sure why it didn't carry over.
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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:18 pm 
 

Weird. well, just remember to preview your post to make sure it'll show up the way you want it.

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iamntbatman
Chaos Breed

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:55 am
Posts: 7527
Location: Innsmouth
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:44 pm 
 

Word formatting doesn't carry over. I write all of my reviews in Wordpad, since it wraps nicely and doesn't add any extraneous formatting to the text that might get botched when you try to paste it into the review window. Stuff like italics won't carry over; you've gotta add that manually in the review window via HTML (or write the code in your original Wordpad doc).
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Getting a band inked into your skin permanently is always a sign of dedication and intelligence, and I have a lot of respect for the people who do it.


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Grave_Wyrm
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 2063
PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:04 am 
 

Oh .. right, of course. duh. I just read what I wanted to see and hallucinated that VT was explaining why the title and score weren't there. dur.

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