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Metal full stop. Everything from folk to symphonic black. Melody is the one constant. Choruses always help. Intellect is good. And lyrics do matter. And if you like it buy it. Downloading's a plague.
And please don't let the consistently high ratings of my reviews fool you. I rarely bother reviewing albums that might score less than 80%. I'd rather leave it to someone else to take out the trash.
Just for something different - here's my master bands by metal genre. In other words - no one does it better:
Power Metal - HELLOWEEN
The band that almost single handedly created and/or perfected metal as we know it. In fact, Weikath is still THE man. But they must have owed someone something big to have held on to serial fillers Grapow and Kusch for so long.
Symphonic Metal - SKYLARK
Yeah the accent comes and goes. And the early albums have something against production values, but deny the power and majesty of Eddy Antonini at your own peril.
Speed Metal - HEAVENLY
Their English is actually getting worse. But despite a head scratching and forgettable fourth album (and a fifth with a moronic cover), Ben Sotto continues to prove himself a restless genius. Album number 3 is astonishing.
Melodic Black - CATAMENIA
How can one band hammer so much beauty and brutality into the darkness that is a black metal soul? Devastatingly under-rated and desperately missing in action. Stop reading this and go out and buy everything they've ever released. Now.
Pagan Folk - WUTHERING HEIGHTS
Where do I start? They've never taken a false step. Prog, power, speed, folk, traditional, symphonic and more. Erik Ravn writes like a demented mad man. But just try looking away.
Power Folk - ELVENKING
Folk by nature - but too obsessively metal to stay in one place. Only one of their albums didn't work (and I mean really, really didn't work) - but otherwise a tidal wave of power and vision.
Melodic Death - THRONE OF CHAOS
Their debut is unparalleled in the genre. Album number two is a could-have-been moment (but well worth owning). And album number three lost the plot altogether. On this list purely because of what they managed to do with their first album - and what they may yet again do one day. I hope.
Traditional Metal - STRYPER
I'm not a Christian but Michael Sweet is. I also can't do what he does with his incredible voice, six string, piano or a collection of notes. Yep, the guy's a freak. But he and Stryper have kept it heavy and hard hitting since day one.
Neoclassical Gothic Black - ENSLAVEMENT OF BEAUTY
Black vocals and classically inspired cathedrals of metal and symphonics. No one even comes close. The desperately undersexed lyrics are the only real problem. Their last release took a lyrical turn for the better through. We'll see.
Symphonic Black - FOLLOWBANE
So obscure they make kvlt look like pop. Virtually a one man show, hence my labeling them the Japanese WINTERSUN. But they might actually be the better band. Think melody and violence in equal measure. Deafening symphonics. And blastbeats that only happen when a band like this does. Just one thing though; their stuff is hard to get. Very hard.
WINTERSUN (Monumental debut. Time I a near miss. Time II better be good)
SABATON (they're deeper than their haircuts and T-Shirts let on)
METAL CHURCH (the damn name says it all)
WASP (deep or dunce - no in between)
PARAMAECIUM (soul stirring doom without razor blades and bathtubs)