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Other Recent Reviews
Apocalypse Warhead - Opening the Silos
Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Anthrax - Worship Music
Author: UMUR
Rating: 75

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Dead Earth Politics - The Queen of Steel
Author: adg211288
Rating: 80

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Iron Maiden - Dance of Death
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 95

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Deus Otiosus - Rise
Author: adg211288
Rating: 89

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Anvil - Forged in Fire
Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Anthrax - Armed and Dangerous
Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Iron Maiden - Brave New World
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 100

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Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestite
Author: ColdReverie
Rating: 90

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Antediluvian - Through the Cervix of Hawaah
Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Terratomorf - Я - легенда
Author: adg211288
Rating: 42

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Iron Maiden - Virtual XI
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 45

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Anthrax – Fistful of Metal
Author: UMUR
Rating: 60

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Johansson & Speckmann – Sulphur Skies
Author: UMUR
Rating: 60

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Annihilator - Feast
Author: UMUR
Rating: 65

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Iron Maiden - The X Factor
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 65

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One Machine – The Distortion Of Lies And The Overdriven Truth
Author: UMUR
Rating: 70

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Ansur - Carved in Flesh
Author: UMUR
Rating: 50

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Annihilator - Metal
Author: UMUR
Rating: 60

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Iron Maiden - Fear of the Dark
Author: 666Sharon666
Rating: 60

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Welcome
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Recent Reviews
AllegaeonElements of the Infinite
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Release Date: June 24th 2014
Label: Metal Blade Records
Author: adg211288

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Just before I took my first listen to Elements of the Infinite (2014), which is the third full-length album by US death metal act Allegaeon, I realised something about the death metal releases of 2014 that I'd enjoyed so far: there wasn't a really killer technical death metal effort among them. Epic melodic death from Arch Enemy's War Eternal, challenging progressive death in Lascaille's Shroud's Interval 02: Parallel Infinities, The Abscinded Universe, powerful symphonic death from MaYaN's Antagonise and even some good old classic sounding death metal from Deus Otiosus' Rise. But no technical death metal standout. Well, until now that is.

I haven't encountered Allegaeon before this album but it seems that their earlier work is usually described as technically minded melodic death metal rather than technical death. On Elements of the Infinite though the music is actually dominantly full-on technical death metal that occasionally has a prominent and epic melodic death metal vibe on top, as is the case with the album's lead single 1.618. So it seems that the band has done an about face with their mix of the two styles of death metal. Having not heard any of their older work I can't really say how it compares, but from an outsider's point of view I was instantly impressed with Elements of the Infinite. Aside from the impeccable musicianship I also especially enjoy the lyrics which are themed around space and science-fiction. The growls of vocalist Ezra Haynes being easier to follow than most really helps me feel appreciation for the lyrics. It's clear that a good deal of thought has good into them and as a fan of sci-fi and spacey stuff they strike a chord with me on a personal level too.

Elements of the Infinite is impressive right from the start with the opening track Threshold of Perception, which starts with a nice symphonic and acoustic guitar build up before segueing into lead guitar playing and choirs until things really get going with the technical riffs. Most bands probably would have done something as a separate intro track and been worse off for it. Allegaeon make no such mistake. If anything though Elements of the Infinite is an album that gets more impressive as it goes along. The more melodic death metal influenced tracks provide a great balance between the technical playing that characterises the album. Another aspect I especially enjoy is the album's atmospheric side. There's even some quasi-symphonic stuff happening in the background on certain songs like, Biomech II, which is definitely one of the best tracks on the album along with 1.618 (make sure to also check out the hilarious music video for this one), Gravimetric Time Dilation and Threshold of Perception.

Elements of the Infinite is the first excellent technical death metal record I've heard so far this year and it sets the standard for other bands to beat. Masterful musicianship and strong vocals meets a great balance of aggression, melody and sophistication. That's what Elements of the Infinite is. 94/100

:star: :star: :star: :star: :halfstar:


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Arch EnemyBlack Earth
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: December 12th 1996
Label: Wrong Again Records
Author: UMUR

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"Black Earth" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Arch Enemy. The album was released through Wrong Again Records in December 1996. After leaving Carcass in 1993, guitarist Michael Amott founded hard rock/heavy metal act Spiritual Beggars in 1994, but to satisfy his interest in harder edged metal, he founded Arch Enemy in 1995 with his brother and guitarist Christoffer Amott, drummer Daniel Erlandsson and former Furbowl vocalist Johan Liiva. This is the four-piece that recorded Black Earth. Michael Amott handles the bass duties on this album.

The original album features 9 tracks while later re-releases feature either 2 or 3 bonus tracks. one of the bonus tracks is a cover of "Aces High" by Iron Maiden. It´s a good idea to include a couple of bonus tracks on the re-releases because the original album is only 32:46 minutes long.

The music on the album is melodic death metal. It´s a pretty raw and old school type of melodic death metal though, so if you´re only familiar with the band´s later releases, this is a bit different and quite a bit more brutal. Johan Liiva isn´t as such a great vocalist in terms of technical skill, but he´s got his own unique style, which makes up for it. A kind of semi-growling/shouting vocal delivery that suits the music well but ultimately gets a bit monotone. His performance here is decent but I´ve heard him deliver better vocal performances than this one.

The main strength and attraction of Arch Enemy have however always been the dual guitar attack of the Amott brothers and the same applies to "Black Earth". Their playing style on "Black Earth" isn´t nearly as melodic and memorable as on later albums though, but still colourful and passionate. The material are not always that memorable and few tracks stand out as highlights and along with the raw and unpolished sound production, which definitely could have been better sounding too, this do have some effect on the listening experience. Overall "Black Earth" is a decent debut release but I think it´s obvious that Arch Enemy were still not completely mature as a band at this point. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted. 60/100

:star: :star: :star:


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ArcaneAshes
Genre: Progressive Metal
Release Date: February 10th 2007
Label: OzProg Music
Author: UMUR

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"Ashes" is the debut full-length studio album by Australian, Brisbane based progressive metal act Arcane. The album, which was originally intended to be released as an EP and only to feature the 24:15 minute long "Ashes" title track, was released through OzProg Music in February 2007. Now with 4 additional tracks and a playing time of 55:57 minutes.

The band play a very intricate form of progressive metal with interesting song structures, a generally dark and melancholic atmosphere and of course impeccable and at times virtuosic musicianship. The latter is more or less a trademark of the genre, so it´s not so surprising. Lead vocalist Jim Grey has a rather distinct sounding voice and it took me a while to learn to appreciate, but he sure is very skilled and after I have gotten used to his voice, I can´t imagine Arcane´s music without it. At times he reminds me of Jan-Henrik Ohme from the Norwegian act Gazpacho. There´s lots of passion and also bite in his performance. I like the fact that he is able to deliver both soft styled vocals and more raw almost aggressive vocals too. We´re not talking extreme metal vocals here though, just a commanding, powerful and passionate clean vocal style.

As such Arcane don´t bring much new to the table if you are well versed in progressive metal neither when talking instrumentation nor songwriting, but they deliver high quality material and it´s obvious that these guys are very talented and I´m sure they will release even more unique sounding material in the future. With a strong and unique sounding vocalist like Jim Grey there´s certainly a possibility that it might happen. Much great music begins with a quality vocalist and bearing that in mind Arcane are very fortunate to have Jim Grey.

There are many positive things to say about "Ashes" and overall I really enjoy the album, but unfortunately there´s one thing holding the album back from being really great. The sound production isn´t very powerful or well sounding and while I can live with that because the music is as convincing and well executed as it is, it´s still an issue that drags my rating down a bit. The sound is pretty powerless and some of the instruments (mainly the keyboards) sound detached from the rest of the instruments in the soundscape. So a 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted. With a better sound production "Ashes" would have been a sure 4 star (80%) rating. 70/100

:star: :star: :star: :halfstar:


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Iron MaidenA Matter of Life and Death
Genre: Progressive Heavy Metal
Release Date: August 28th 2006
Label: EMI
Author: 666Sharon666

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With their last two albums Brave New World and Dance of Death Iron Maiden were on a much needed new high after the disappointing and patchy nineties efforts. Despite the massive hype I remember for this one at the time though I actually think it represents a small step down for the band, but we're still dealing with massively superior work to anything released in the nineties.

The average track running time is quite long on this one with only single Different World under the five minute mark. Most songs tend to be approaching or over seven minutes making A Matter of Life and Death a much less direct Iron Maiden album even when put up next to the previous two albums which also had many long songs. It works very well when taken in one listen but individually there just aren't so many standout tracks that make me get addicted to them the way a lot of their eighties work does. My favourites are easily These Colours Don't Run and The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg. To say it isn't a very creative album, especially for a band who've been going so long, would be wrong though. 85/100

:star: :star: :star: :star: :halfstar:


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Album of the Month
Arch EnemyWar Eternal
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: June 8th 2014
Label: Century Media

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War Eternal (2014) is the tenth full-length studio album Swedish melodic death metal act Arch Enemy. It is their first album in three years, following on from Khaos Legions (2011) and it brings with it a couple of significant line-up changes to the group. The one everyone is talking about is of course that Angela Gossow, the band's vocalist since fourth album Wages of Sin (2001), has stepped down from the band and been replaced by Alissa White-Gluz, formerly of The Agonist, apparently on Gossow's recommendation. But in my mind the more major change is that War Eternal is the first Arch Enemy album to not feature both of the Amott brothers, Michael and Christopher due to the latter's departure in 2012. Christopher Amott actually left the band once before but returned before the band recorded new material. He is replaced here by Nick Cordle, who was previously with Arsis.

Even with the line-up changes and both new members sharing song-writing duties with Michael Amott the music on War Eternal is by and large what you should expect from an Arch Enemy release if you've heard even one of them before. The new line-up has certainly seemed to revitalise the band though; except for the addition of some symphonic elements on the songs You Will Know My Name, Time is Black, and Avalanche (an element they used in a much smaller amount on Cruelty Without Beauty from Khaos Legions) the music is Arch Enemy by numbers but done with a much higher level of consistency than I've ever heard from them. This is some really furious and epic sounding melodic death metal here, a real step up from Khaos Legions which I found disappointing. That album just sounds positively tame by comparison. Aside from the typical Arch Enemy intro/interlude/outro type tracks the band just deliver melodic death anthem after melodic death anthem. Tracks like On and One and Down to Nothing took a little longer to click than the well chosen promo tracks of War Eternal, No More Regrets and You Will Know My Name but the album has reached a point for me that it's just kept on giving in such a way that I can't honestly say any song here is particularly lesser or better than another. The symphonic elements are definitely a nice touch too, adding another dimension to the Arch Enemy sound. They're definitely seasoning rather than the flavour of the dish here so those who haven't been overly enthralled by the current wave of symphonic death metal acts don't need worry too much, though I personally would like to hear Arch Enemy explore this territory even further.

Alissa White-Gluz proves a more than worthy replacement for Angela Gossow, though there is an undeniable interchangeability factor between vocalists when the music is entirely growled (although that's not quite fully the case here as there is a tiny use of Alissa's clean singing during Avalanche). It's quite hard to say which vocalist I prefer (original vocalist Johan Liiva doesn't really get a look in for me) but with Alissa the band do have the option to further expand their sound with more clean vocals should they ever wish to, as she's also a really good clean singer, as is made evident with her work with The Agonist. I'm not necessarily saying that adding clean singing would be the right thing for Arch Enemy to do to follow War Eternal up, but I've always found the band's discography to be quite patchy, so it's actually comforting to know that they have options to follow-up what has to be the first Arch Enemy album that's shown true growth as a band.

War Eternal is a rare thing for me; a melodic death metal record hasn't hooked me in this much in seven years, the last time was in fact Arch Enemy's own Rise of the Tyrant (2007), which was the Arch Enemy album I would have dubbed their best (while admitting to having not heard either Black Earth (1996) or Burning Bridges (1999)) up until this point. The band's albums in my experience tend to have a lot of initial wow factor, only to find that my opinion of them declines as I become more familiar with them. That was certainly the case with the albums I actually discovered the group through, Anthems of Rebellion (2003) and Doomsday Machine (2005). It hasn't been the same story with War Eternal at all, quite the opposite in fact. What first appeared to be one of the more solid Arch Enemy releases worked its way up to second favourite regard, and then proceeded to even surpass Rise of the Tyrant due to it's frankly addictive qualities. It's only been out a couple of weeks at the time of writing, and I think I already must have spun this one more in that time than I have any of their other albums. For the time since I started listening to them I feel inclined to hand out a 5 star rating. A very unexpected 5 Star rating at that. 98/100

:star: :star: :star: :star: :star:




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