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Napero
GedankenPanzer

Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:16 pm
Posts: 8542
Location: Finland
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:46 pm 
 

Here's a desperate attempt at putting something I've been mulling over into coherent words. It does not necessarily work, but even if you don't get the basic idea, this might be an interesting start for a conversation.

I've lately been thinking about the way people choose the albums they review. While I personally review basically everything I get directly from bands, occasional unknown albums and EPs, and rarely something famous, others seem to have a (different) methodology. There are, of course, the profilic steamrollers who review massive amounts of stuff, but out of the "once weekly" crowd, many seem to have specific interests. So far, so good: specializing in contemporary local black metal, a specific subgenre, or, say, a geographical area makes sense. And since it often entails reviewing rare stuff and building a "portfolio" of reviews from that speciality, it's a service to the scene/bands and quite useful to the MA. I find the works of such reviewers appealing, not least because they often show consistency in their opinions, and "calibrating" their ratings and opinions to map them to my own tastes is relatively easy.

However, the other edge of the spectrum irks me personally quite a lot. There's the productive but -in my eyes- quite useless reviewer, often a complete newbie, who insists on writing mediocre and unoriginal reviews on some dead horse, such as the full-lengths of Metallica, Iced Earth or Judas Priest. Those guys are the reason why reviews on Opeth, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater and other bands with 200+ reviews stay in the queue for weeks: I, personally, have an aversion to reading them, simply because I pretty much know I have seen EVERY SINGLE OPINION and analysis at least twenty times before. And still they insists on writing on such albums.

While I do understand the appeal of having a complete set of Metallica reviews on the MA, available for any interested person's perusal, to show the might of one's opinions and to collect some sort of imaginary "scene points", they also dilute the average quality of the reviews here. I bet most of them have actually been read by a smaller handful of people than the reviewer thinks, since those albums often have reviews by some of the reviewers worth mentioning. It might also be that they write on the albums they actually know, and that the copy-pasting if ideas, formats and opinions from others on the web is the only choice they think they have: there's no experience, no collection, no desire to form opinions by themselves for the fear of being somehow "wrong" in the eyes of the audience, and suddenly, reviewing Piece of Mind for the 24th time seems like the safest choice.

I also believe there are people who fail to recognize the irrelevance of their own opinions, unfortunately. Having much to say on Painkiller or Kill 'em All means to them something else than to the crowd who actually reads the reviews. The hollow husks of meaningless, aimless and poorly delivered opinions fill the album pages, and instead of focusing on some little-known demo or a curious EP from somewhere, tackling Images And Words is worth a dozen hours of listing details and borrowing analysis from somewhere. There is little to say, but that does not diminish the desire to say it anyway.

I'm not certain what I'm trying to say here, really, and perhaps I'm just venting a bit, but what I essentially mean is that I prefer consistent reviewing of some kind of special area and deep knowledge of it over highly productive and even quite good reviewers who choose to say again things that have been said many times before. I do recognize my own shallowness when it comes to such bands as Iron Maiden. There's nothing special about my opinions, perhaps beyond the fact that I was there filling my ears with them when Seventh Son of a Seventh Son came out, and I rather remain silent that reiterate what has probably already been said by many. However, when it comes to the series of christmas singles from Ajattara or the works of Kotiteollisuus or Viikate, I might have some insight that the average user lacks.

Yeah... that made no sense whatsoever... opinions?
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oneyoudontknow
Cum insantientibus furere necesse est.

Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 6:25 pm
Posts: 5345
Location: Germany
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:14 pm 
 

Napero wrote:
I've lately been thinking about the way people choose the albums they review.

    [1.] Do I think I have something meaningful to say about this album?
    [2.] Has this album have some reviews on the MA already?
    [2.1] Do I think the reviews reflect the quality of the music of said album in a proper way?
    [3.] How many reviews are there already? Is it really necessary to add one more? Or would it be wiser to write on a compilation and to present the music from a broader perspective?
    [4.] Does the band belong to a genre I am familiar with or have had some experience in the past with?
    [5.] Do I own music of the band or is it necessary to download it?
    [6.] Am I looking for something that challenges me to write on something in a meaningful or elaborate kind of way; like my Ulver reviews for instance.
    ...
    [7.] Review requests: I listen to the music before I write on it and decide, whether this would be something that sparks an interest in me. I have even begun to demand the MP3 first and the CD later -- with some obvious results ... I will not name the band/label -- in order to get the stuff done in time and have enough time to torment myself with this kind of stuff. There were requests, which I refused to deal with right from the start and have recommended to contact other reviewers.

These are the -- *coughs* mine of course -- core questions when it comes to review an album. I am currently working on one that deals with Black Bile for instance; 1, 2, 3, 4, 6. There is also an extensive forthcoming one on the 'Pawned Pajamas / Golden Cup / Twilight Owls / Flamingo Creatures' split release; 6.

edit: see 7
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Last edited by oneyoudontknow on Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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hells_unicorn
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:32 pm
Posts: 2242
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:28 pm 
 

For the most part, what I decide to review comes based on my own capricious listening tendencies. Occasionally I try to commit myself to reviewing an entire discography, and usually end up getting sidetracked. Lately I've been trying to avoid writing about bands that are extremely well-known, though I've been listening to a fair amount of Judas Priest lately and will probably end up churning a few more out for them, though on later releases for the most part. Every now and then I'll actually seek out something that another reviewer has hit that I haven't heard of before, particularly if it is either praised immensely by said reviewer or utterly trashed, and I'll end reviewing it soon after. How many reviews an album has doesn't usually impact whether or not I review an album, though I think I may actually skip reviewing the latest Morbid Angel album because of the sheer number of reviews.
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OzzyApu
Metal freak

Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 12:11 am
Posts: 9859
Location: Seattle, United States
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:54 pm 
 

I love death and black metal, so I stick to those. I refrain from doing reviews of big bands from the US altogether anyway, because everyone else has them covered. I've done select Maiden reviews, with maybe 1 or two more and then I'm done with reviewing them. I like to stick with Scandinavian or German metal bands.

Swedish death is the ballpark that I mess around in, and that's what I want to stick with. Napero is the Finnish representative, but I'm doing laps around these Euro bands from one country to the next. Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Italy, and actually Japan as well. I have a thing for Japanese bands like I do Japanese women, and I get real deep into those bands like Anthem, Bow / Vow Wow, Gargoyle, etc. That's my portfolio. Yes I'll hit up bands with more reviews like Opeth and Gothenburg groups for the sake of doing all the full-lengths (In Flames eventually) or for some bands even the whole discography (Running Wild [will finish] or Behemoth [which I stopped]).
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MalignantThrone
Vanished in the Cosmic Futility

Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 1:24 am
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:05 am 
 

Most of the stuff I review is either something in my physical collection, or something rather notable in the scenes of music I listen to. I try to get coverage of the brutal death metal and deathcore scenes in particular, since they're what I listen to most. As for complete discographies reviewed, I enjoy doing those kinds of things (and it's actually easier than one would think in the long run, since you can refer back to your previous reviews to an extent as opposed to starting your description over from scratch), but the only bands I've completely reviewed so far are Whitechapel and Origin.
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DodensGrav
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 6:45 pm
Posts: 223
Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:55 pm 
 

I write my reviews for my own magazine, so whether or not there are 35 reviews of the album on metal archives already are irrelevant to me. However, my reviews are for newer releases that I think are of high quality and deserve to be praised, so the majority of them tend to have few reviews anyway. I would imagine that most reviewers don't particularly care whether or not their review contributes to the grand tapestry of the database either by contributing reviews for releases that have none or doing extensive 'scene' review series. They have their own interests in mind; the database is just a platform for them to publicize their efforts.
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Metal_Detector
Reticular Modular Unit

Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:15 pm
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:19 pm 
 

^This. Also, I like to see big names take on highly famous (or infamous, if you know what I mean) albums because I like to read what their personal opinions are on such releases, whether they have 30 reviews already or not.

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SharpAndSlender
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:49 am
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Location: Bradenton, Florida
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:42 pm 
 

I review essentially at random from my own collection. I literally set Itunes to shuffle, and I review the first unreviewed release that a song off of comes first, then move down the list. It forces me to review albums that I'm not particularly interested in reviewing, and my whole reason for reviewing has more to do with personal satisfaction and a feeling of "understanding" the piece than anything. There's almost no chance that I would have ever willingly gotten around to reviewing the first Iron Maiden album without that methodology, for instance. On a rare occasion I'll attempt to move through a band with a lengthy discography's collective work, but for the most part I prefer the arbitrary system I'm using now. It's rare that I feel a need or desire to review a particular work. Reviewing has pretty much become a hobby in and of itself for me.

I don't review much mainstream or well known stuff, but that's mostly an issue of my idiosyncratic buying habits than any intentional act.

EDIT: How many other reviews there are for an album is mostly irrelevant to me since I barely read reviews that aren't written by authors I intentionally follow. I think I pay less attention to my reviews in the greater context of MA than any of the other "big name" writers. Not a good or bad thing, just different. I'm a hobbyist.
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Zelkiiro
Pounding the world with a fish of steel

Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 5:30 pm
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:35 am 
 

Like the great artists of the Renaissance, I review purely at random when inspiration strikes. Which reminds me, I really should start up again.
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ParabolaX
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:54 am
Posts: 44
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:55 pm 
 

I review when I feel like it. What I review generally consists of me picking out albums that I hate that everyone else seems to like, or trying to be the first to review a release. The genre doesn't really matter to me.

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Razakel
Nekroprince

Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:36 pm
Posts: 4866
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:30 pm 
 

It would be interesting to cover a specific scene or something. A while ago I downloaded a bunch of ancient Swedish death metal demos from bands who never made it as big as Entombed and Dismember and planned on reviewing them all but for some reason never got around to it. Now I'm thinking of reviewing some Finnish black/death metal since that's what I've been listening to a lot of lately. The only discography I've ever committed to was Amorphis, which was fun.

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dystopia4
Veteran

Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:47 pm
Posts: 3549
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 11:36 pm 
 

Yeah, I kind of agree on the whole only writing reviews for famous bands thing. I mean I don't need a bunch of MA reviews to know that Kill 'Em All is an excellent album, but for underground bands it lets me know whats good or not. If I see an underground black metal band with a large discography, and one has a few reviews averaging in the 90s, I know right away what album I should check out.

I don't really have a specific categories when it comes to reviews, I just generally review what I feel like. And I only have around 50 reviews, so I don't really have that much experience yet. I am planning to do a lot of reviews in Cascadian black metal and post-metal in the future. When I get a month off of school in a few days I think I'm going to start reviewing the Neurosis (studio album) discography. I always like when someone has a specialty, because you know they know what they're talking about (usually) and that they have a lot in the same style to compare it too. It would be hard and extremely time consuming to become the go to guys for an entire genre, but I think Caspian and Perplexed_Sjel have done a pretty good job with doom and black metal (respectively.)

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Pepsiman
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:18 pm
Posts: 231
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2011 7:26 pm 
 

This is the reason most of the potential MA content on my blog doesn't get posted here - for a great deal of the things I would want to review, there's already significant numbers of them. In addition, most of the writeups on there have moved away from 'reviews' and more to just descriptions of the content within. Add that to the fact I generally only write about what I like, and it becomes quite the explanation. I've done some degree of "portfolio" type reviews - the most comprehensive so far are for Emperor, Morbid Angel, and Septic Flesh. But there's plenty of such reviews on the archives, so that's where they'll probably stay.
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Zodijackyl
Lazy Wizard

Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 5:39 pm
Posts: 4981
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:48 pm 
 

Napero wrote:
However, the other edge of the spectrum irks me personally quite a lot. There's the productive but -in my eyes- quite useless reviewer, often a complete newbie, who insists on writing mediocre and unoriginal reviews on some dead horse, such as the full-lengths of Metallica, Iced Earth or Judas Priest. Those guys are the reason why reviews on Opeth, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater and other bands with 200+ reviews stay in the queue for weeks: I, personally, have an aversion to reading them, simply because I pretty much know I have seen EVERY SINGLE OPINION and analysis at least twenty times before. And still they insists on writing on such albums.


I agree about this, when I look at an album with 10+ reviews, I immediately go to the familiar names and skip over the others. Most of the really popular bands and major releases have countless reviews that tend to restate opinions and hardly add anything more. The masses of opinions practically devalue the well-stated ones. A friend pointed out that there are 10-15 reviews of some albums and they often get so focused on seemingly predetermined love/hate of the band that they will completely leave out something significant, such as the production/overall sound of an album (I think Arsis' "We Are The Nightmare" was the one I'm thinking of with this, where only 1 or 2 reviews mentioned the awful production on an otherwise solid album).

I have tried to put time into writing reviews of things that don't have many reviews on MA. While I will occasionally decide to review something random that I haven't heard, I think I have only reviewed 1-2 of ~30 reviews on albums with more than 5 other reviews. I haven't written a ton of reviews, but I'm trying to improve the efficiency of my writing by going through older local bands demos and reviewing them, since nobody else has touched the bands on MA. Other than that, I try to focus on some of the niches that I'm interested in that don't get much attention.

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Ilwhyan
Metel fraek

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:41 pm
Posts: 6527
Location: Finland
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:22 am 
 

I started off as one of the idiots who reviewer Reroute To Remain for the 66,7th time. Lots of text, little to say. I've deleted most of my such reviews already, as an effort to purify my reviews list from horrendously written diatribes against shitty metal or overblown praise of genuinely good but overrated music. I don't write much, and I rarely review previously unreviewed releases. I'm mostly motivated to review when the consensus of existing reviews differs from my opinion. I write when I feel that I have something to add. Whenever a shitty deathcore abomination is praised as a death metal masterpiece, or an album of horrendous cookie cutter black metal is treated as the work of a genius etc etc. I rarely find the motivation to write these days, and when I read my own reviews, I'm only further discouraged from writing any more.
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joncheetham88
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:41 pm
Posts: 598
Location: Germany
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:50 am 
 

It's pretty much random for me too. I have my own blog which is predominantly death, black and doom stuff (with the odd power metal or even non-metal feature), and I tend to mostly review fairly uncovered stuff because that's where my interests lie these days. So stuff I've bought, things I stumble across quite by accident that catch my ear, and the tons of stuff I get recommended by my mates. I don't tackle much really famous stuff (Metallica or Slayer level famous), mostly for the reason that people have covered it really well already, but if I get in early I'll give my 2 cents on something that I can foresee getting shitloads of reviews.

Over the past few years I've increasingly had requests from bands all over the world and 90% of the time I'll make the effort to write something - they're usually unknowns, and it's interesting for me to delve into something from, I don't know, Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh, and see what the scene is producing in another country.

I'm also now on the staff of doom-metal.com, they consistently send me stuff for review - those are generally promos and so I basically owe them a review. So that goes in. I've done a few almost-discographies as well, Tarot and Runemagick springing to mind, and thoroughly covered a couple of bands with somewhat shorter discographies but who I'm obsessed with, but I've never had the inclination to entirely throw myself into one genre or scene.

I suppose if I looked through the now very long list of reviews I've written there might be a pattern, but it's basically a combination of doing whatever Jon wants and also whatever Jon is sort of obliged to do because he gets free doom metal records in the post.

But in summary I have to say I agree that it would be more constructive for the majority of reviewers to try and contribute something new rather than writing retreads of well-covered albums. But what can you do, you know.
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Metal_Detector
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:01 am 
 

I randomly switch between covering discographies of bands I love (like Septicflesh, Lizzy Borden, and to a lesser extent, X Japan), one off oldies, albums that are hot off the presses, and demos from groups that want me to review their work. My pattern is ridiculously inconsistent at its most consistent, and my choices are random as hell. But that's just me.

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Pale_Pilgrim
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:01 pm
Posts: 882
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 1:43 am 
 

I've not done a lot of reviews - I tend to get really into it and then suddenly drop out. Not sure why. Anyway, most of what I listen to is obscure black metal of any and all variations, so you'll see a lot of that from me. That said, I don't think I could ever stick to a specific niche - I like a lot of bands from all styles. But obscurity is preferred. No one needs me to tell them what Dimmu Borgir sound like, or used to sound like, for that matter. That said, there's been a couple exceptions. In the future I may review known bands whose style is the more obscure factor (i.e., Ahab). I've also been contacted for requests by a couple of Iranian musicians, who I did indeed go ahead and review for. I intend to review other Iranian metal releases as I get around to it.
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Akerfeldt_Fanboi
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:07 am
Posts: 45
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:56 pm 
 

I don't have many reviews, and a good 20 of them are total and utter garbage - well, more garbage than my standard, I promise I'm attempting improvement - and about bands or genres that I don't even listen to anymore.

Lately I've been delving into brutal death metal reviews because even the most popular of bands might have little to no reviews. Plus it's what I've been buying for awhile, so it only makes sense, right? I tend to review pretty much whatever it is I'm listening to for the past week or month or however long, and then that review gets thrown up on MA. It helps that I was not into metal for a few years and came back with a ton of stuff I hadn't heard before, so that I have a healthy amount of records to be excited to review and listen to.

Hell, I just bought Incurso and I'm genuinely excited to review it because it means I'm going to be spending a lot of time listening to the album. I don't think I've had that feeling since maybe 2010.

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Ilwhyan
Metel fraek

Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:41 pm
Posts: 6527
Location: Finland
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:03 pm 
 

You are a rare case I suspect many readers avoid due to your name alone. I'd recommend creating a new account in case you aim to turn a new reviewing leaf. What lunacy caused you to choose such a name?
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Akerfeldt_Fanboi
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:07 am
Posts: 45
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:10 pm 
 

Ilwhyan wrote:
You are a rare case I suspect many readers avoid due to your name alone. I'd recommend creating a new account in case you aim to turn a new reviewing leaf. What lunacy caused you to choose such a name?


This was actually a joke account I made at first. I don't know why I keep reviewing under this name, but whatever, if the people on this site are that superficial and can't deduce my tastes on metal by now then oh well. This is more of an outlet for how I'm feeling on a record, more like a really empty livejournal or something like that, so I personally don't care how people take my name into account. Plus, I have a good friend on here who reviews from time to time and we get to know how the other is feeling about a particular record without having to travel an hour just to talk metal.

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BastardHead
Magic Mike

Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2005 7:53 pm
Posts: 5418
Location: Oswego, Illinois
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:18 pm 
 

If the majority of people discriminated reviewers based on their pseudonym, I'd've never gotten the small bit of notoriety I had.
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Napero
GedankenPanzer

Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:16 pm
Posts: 8542
Location: Finland
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:27 pm 
 

BastardHead wrote:
If the majority of people discriminated reviewers based on their pseudonym, I'd've never gotten the small bit of notoriety I had.

If any of the readers discriminated reviewers based on pseudonyms AND spoke Finnish, someone might at one point have read my Hevisaurus review. But nothing else.
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Akerfeldt_Fanboi
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:07 am
Posts: 45
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:43 pm 
 

Looking back on it, I was 14 years old when I created this account, so I should get some sort of pass for that right?

...

Maybe not.

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Metantoine
The XVI, dominar to over 258714 subjects

Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:00 pm
Posts: 8862
Location: Québec
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:45 pm 
 

Who cares about usernames, really. Mine sucks too and Opeth ­ :love:
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BastardHead
Magic Mike

Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2005 7:53 pm
Posts: 5418
Location: Oswego, Illinois
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:46 pm 
 

Akerfeldt_Fanboi wrote:
Looking back on it, I was 14 years old when I created this account


Oh man so was I, at least mine is clever :P
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Metal_Detector
Reticular Modular Unit

Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 1886
Location: Forgotten In Space
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:46 pm 
 

Metantoine wrote:
Who cares about usernames, really. Mine sucks too and Opeth ­ :love:


You kiddin' me? Metantoine is a classic. :D

Don't get me started on how bad mine is...

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Akerfeldt_Fanboi
Metal newbie

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 12:07 am
Posts: 45
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:49 pm 
 

BastardHead wrote:
Akerfeldt_Fanboi wrote:
Looking back on it, I was 14 years old when I created this account


Oh man so was I, at least mine is clever :P


Okay, so I was a stupid 14 year old. :grumble:

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MalignantThrone
Vanished in the Cosmic Futility

Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 1:24 am
Posts: 2785
Location: A step closer to home
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:28 pm 
 

I actually like Metal_Detector; always thought it was quite witty. Both of my usernames blow, though.
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Jophelerx
Metalhead

Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:22 pm
Posts: 730
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:45 am 
 

I generally review power and epic heavy metal; mostly '80's PM with some modern USPM, although I may eventually get around to reviewing some of the other genres I like, such as gothic/doom and melodic death metal; I'm not as knowledgeable about those genres though. I do review a little Europower, but not much. I mostly try to stick to relatively obscure bands, but I tend to review what I like, so I have reviewed a couple of bigger bands.

In general, I'm not a major advocate of reviewing huge bands with lots of reviews, but if it's a prolific reviewer whose opinions are well-known and respected, or if it's a review that presents a different opinion from all the other reviews, I think it's acceptable.

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