Stormtide – Wrath of an Empire

Surprisingly alright. Not reinventing the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but they got the epic aesthetic down pat on their first try. Band just needs any kind of variety and they’ll be turning out some pretty damn good albums. For now though, it was a bit of a difficult listen due to how samey it was. All the attempts to add flavor fell flat, most of the riffs sounded the same, folk elements blended too much with the generic symphonic ones. There’s potential, but Stormtide’s nowhere near there yet.


6/10

https://metalhellrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wrath-of-an-empire

Whispered – Metsutan: Songs of the Void

Yeah, a lot of this is campy as hell “naruto metal”. But there’s some good shit amongst all the forgettable tracks. Strike! is just fucking godly (as well as the music video), and Tsukiakari certainly holds it’s wait. And for an en epic finale, Bloodred Shores of Enoshima does the job as well as any other cheesy, nerd fantasy metal concept album I’ve ever heard does. I wouldn’t call this great, but if you can get past how “fake” the japanese folk elements sound at times, there’s some pretty damn great music here, with some Killer riffs when the band isn’t jerking off over it’s own theme.


7/10

Almanac – Tsar

Well… huh. Since when is the obligatory overrated power metal album in the RYM [current year] metal top 40 actually good? I mean sure, this has very little replayability, and after the initial “hey this is actually pretty dang good”shock wears off, it leaves something to be desired, but considering all of those obvious faults, this rules.

Almanac debuts with a power metal rock opera with a very apparent progressive tinge, chronicling the reign of Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible. Of course, I can say that, but despite those facts, when it comes down it, this is chug power. Quite good chug power, but chug power nonetheless. Normally that instantly caps your max rating at around the 6 level on my scale, but I feel like Almanac manages to avoid this pitfall through pulling some shenanigans in how they do the chugging deed. Actually it’s not really shenanigans at all, they just use chugging as a form to setup tension and build backing for the fantastic vocals, as well as using the heavy guitars for chug-riffs rather than just mindless repetitive chords. I just really wanted to use the word shenanigans there. Fun word, needs more use outside of conversations between high school musical theater students.

Speaking of which, the theatrical aspects of this album are actually presented in quite a professional manner. I mean yeah, there’s the obvious amount of “cheese” you’re going get with power metal, but I put that in quotes here because nothing about this is actually over the top. Sure, it’s going to sound a tad goofy, as does any power metal album, but aside from sometimes slightly overly theatrical aspects of this record, I see this as quite a professionally done piece of music. The production in particular is top notch clean work, which makes me take this as seriously as I’ll ever take a power metal album. There’s a feel of genuine want to create a story that’s not just muh dragons and DnD, and I think that’s necessary for a good power metal album. As much as I like cheese, if it doesn’t feel like the band is trying to create something that’s not just goofy, it makes me feel like the band is almost mocking their genre rather than trying to embrace it, which doesn’t make them too rad of dudes in my book. Then again I like Gloryhammer, so what do I know?

The main part of Tsar that I enjoy the most is actually the guitar work. The internet has told me that Victor Smolski is a legendary guitarist, so I’ll believe them in an effort to look learned, and he displays what the lord our god Internet has told me. The single on this album, Self-Blinded Eyes, proves this fact, which as well as featuring a fantastic solo towards the end of the track, also features a bit of a riff cereal. It’s sort of like Lucky Charms, with all of the marshmallows being different colors and include all of that tasty processed sugar flavor that my 8 year old self loved. Each riff brings a bit of breakfast time memories to me, as I go off to school, ready to be picked on endlessly because my mom wouldn’t buy me Lunchables. That’s kind of a contrived analogy, but fuck it, I really like breakfast anyway, that’s good enough. Unsurprisingly, this is the best track on the album, and brings forth the driving rhythms that the appropriate use of chugging can do to a track.

However, I have to go back to what I said in the first paragraph: this is chug power, and after the initial pleasant surprise factor, the albums positive attributes wears thinner and thinner. This is a good album, definitely one of the better power metal records I’ve heard this year. But it’s the tolken overrated RYM power metal album of the month for a reason, even if it tries its best to break that stereotype.


7.5/10

Necronomicon – Advent of the Human God

Surprisingly decent sympho death. Doesn’t overuse the symphonic elements, while still using them appropriately. Other than that it doesn’t really have much substance to it, it’s sort of like watching a generic fantasy movie that has cool action scenes in it. I wouldn’t call it cheesy, more bland, if decently pleasant to listen to, than anything else.


6.5/10

Myrath – Legacy

You know you’re in a special kind of hell when you want to like an album ironically and can’t because it’s actually good. This is the greatest arabic sporkcore album ever made. How is Believer not every person on the planet’s jam? And yes, I saw the music video, fuck you it’s amazing in a “so bad it’s good but no really it’s actually kinda good in a bad way” way. I just wish the album wasn’t one track long.


7.75/10

Dream Theater – The Astonishing ALBUM REVIEW

Narrator: Deep within the Adirondack Mountains, hidden from all of those not intelligent enough to appreciate it’s majesty, lies a seemingly abandoned castle. However do not be fooled, for this castle is not bare. For in it lies a deep underground chamber. A chamber that in it contains nefarious secrets, secrets of which the likes would shock the likes of any man who has ever had the thought “Hey, maybe I should post on /r/progmetal”. Secrets that would destroy the fabric of the metal world. These are the secrets contained within the thinking chamber of soft rock / prog metal mastermind, John Petrucci. However today is not a day of scheming. Today, John is feeling distraught, and has seemed to have lost hope at the fact that nobody seems to care about his music anymore. However that is not his chief concern. His main reason for being so down in the dumps is much more sinister than that. A reason, that if unleashed to the public, would cause the destruction of our culture as a whole….

[Curtains rise, piano begins playing, Petrucci is crying in G Major]
[the chords will be provided, play along if you’d like!]
[slowish tempo] (Gmaj) Why does no one caaaare about me any (Em)moooooore… (Cmaj)Can’t they see that I (Dmaj)really tried my (Gmaj)beeeeest… What (Cmaj)FUN we always (Gmaj)had, (D7)making elitists (Gmaj)mad! But (Cmaj7) now they see my band just liiike the (B7)reeeeeeest. I’m a (Cmaj)washed up dumb old (Dmaj)hag, whose (Gmaj)music has kicked, the baaaag. But (Ebmaj)what they do not (Bbmaj)see in me, (Fmaj) is I do not (Cmaj) want to be,  (Ggmaj) any kind of (Dbmaj)superstar in(Bmaj7)steeeeeead… what I wish to (Dbmaj) be, is (Gbmaj) living ever freee, be(Emaj)yond the realms of so(Bmaj)ciety, be(Gbmaj)yond the human ca(Dbmaj)pacity, (Abmaj)living past what (Ebmaj)any man can (Dbmaj7)seeeeeeeeee…. I want to be seeen, I want to be su(Dbmaj9)preme, I want to (Dbmaj10)scream, I want to (Dbmaj11)DREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAMMM…. [in the softest, highest pitched, and gayest voice possible] (Abmaj)I just want to (Bbmaj)be……. a (Ebmaj)meeeeeeemmmeeeee….

[guitars and drums come in, a bit more midtempo now] Images and Words was (Bbmaj)not a lie, it (Abmaj)was my very (Ebmaj) damndest try, to make quite an ex(Bbmaj)quisite meme, to be the (Abmaj) biggest memer (Ebmaj) on the scene. Metropolis parts (Bbmaj) 1 and 2, (Abmaj) was a sonnet (Ebmaj) just for you, you (Bbmaj) reddit going fe(Gbmaj)doralords, (Dbmaj)with your waifus (Abmaj)and your swords, (Ebmaj) what more could a (Bbmaj)memer aaask (Abmaj7) fooooooor……..  [tempo changes to a more midtempo jazzy funk speed] those (Abmaj13)wanky bits and interludes, (Bbmaj9)was a staple just for you, you (Gbmaj11) pseudo in-tell-ec-tu-al, (B7sus4) never had-the-sex-at-all, (B7)faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaansssss……

[guitars chug epically to build up tension, tempo more straightforward now] I (Cmaj) made a claim I won’t regret, I (Cmajb5) logged the tears and all the sweat, I climbed to the top of the (Cmajb5 again but like really loudly)[Guitars, bass, choir, organ, piccolo, oboe, didgeridoo, kazoo, handkerchief, fax machine, the sound of god all come in] INTERNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTT……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. [only triangle accompanies](Ebmaj7)but now I only sing of dreams, wasting all my precious things, trying to be (Fmaj) relevant a(Bbmaj)gaaaaaaaaaaain…..

[Without music] All these years I spent trying to be meme, feel wasted now. I tried so damn hard to make sure our music would be as cringey as possible. I mean sure, I guess there are some bands that do it better but come on! How do you expect us to compete with meme masters such as liturgy, or Rise of the Northstar, or Sigh?! And oh who can forget Zieler? They basically just did what me and devy did, but to perfection! It’s like he was the logical conclusion to memes. I want to be that! [noodles on the guitar] It’s just not fair!

*sigh* Maybe I should just quit my dream and start making that blackgaze stuff the kids like these days. That’s somewhat memey right? Oh what’s the use, I’ll never make anything worthwhile again…

Narrator: John was quite sad and ready to give up. Luckily however, a previously un-encountered friend was here to help…

Voice: Don’t give up John!

John Petrucci: W-what was that!? My security symphony should’ve detected any intruder! Show yourself!

[A wormhole appears, distorting the quantum fabric of space time around the room. In the distance, Mithras is heard playing eternally in the cosmos. A figure with a cheeky smirk, white hair, and sweater appears out of the vortex] Voice: It is I, Richard Dawkins, here to assist you!

John: R-Richard Dawkins?! What are you doing here?!

[Wormhole disintegrates] Richard: I know you have been having trouble unlocking your feel meme power. As the inventor and God of Memes, it is my duty to come and assist those who lack the will to continue the meme scripture.

John: Wait you’re a go-

Richard: Yes I realize the irony, can we move on to the topic at hand please?

John: Well Richard, I just… I feel like I’m just being outmemed by everyone these days. Everyone is so savvy with the internet and all of the post-post irony that I can’t keep up! I remember a time when memes were honest. When memes made people smile. Now it’s all “how hipster and soft can I while still maintaining a simultaneous sense of irony and seriousness”. All the memes today are so mechanical and nefarious. People don’t have time for memes anymore…..

Richard: I see. Well, think, what do those memers have that you don’t? You’re a smart guy, you got good SAT scores, you have a high IQ, you should be able to figure this out!

John: Yeah but I’m really lazy…

Richard: Come on John, I know you got more than just basic chord progressions in that head of yours!

John: Hmmm…. welll… what those memers have is…. something.

Richard: … well yes, I would think they would have some sort of physical thing attached to their music, it’s sort of hard to have a meme with any-

John: Wait a minute! [chugs] I got it! That’s it!

Richard: What’s it?

John: SOMETHING! That’s it! They all have something, so in order for me to be a better memer than them, I have to have [Every symphony in the entire northeastern United States plays] NOTHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII[guitar pedal effect]IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING!

Richards: Well um… that’s not the direction I was going in the slightest but-

John: Nothing Richard, I have to have nothing!

Richard: well with all due respect, how are you going to meme with nothing?

John: It’s easy. First off, the album is gonna be like, over 2 hours long, concept album of course.

Richard: Hmmm, painfully long to listen to, I like that. What else?

John: Before we release the album, we’re gonna put promos out. But not just any promos, some of the most cringe, shitty produced, freshman in college level graphic design promos ever. And we’re gonna post them on the internet for all to see. There’s gonna be one liners throughout the entire promo video, it’ll get EVERYONE talking about the album. It’ll look like a bunch of old guys trying to look intelligent, which means reddit is going to love it, which inherently makes it a meme, and 4chan is going to shitpost about it so much it’ll destroy the board and HAVE to become a meme there too!

Richard: Brilliant meme marketing! But what about the album itself?

John: Oh that’s the good part. So there’ll be all this hype for the album, everyone waiting to take a huge shit on it and do all those funny reviews on RYM. But the best part is…. there will be nothing to meme.

Richard: Wait… then what’s the meme?

John: Don’t you get it Richard? There is no meme! That’s the meme! What is more of a meme than a meme that memes itself while not being a meme at all?

Richard: But, um-

John: Everyone will be ready for meme material, but it’ll just be our regular work, just really long and blander.

Richard: I don’t think that’s how it wo-

John: it’s post-ironic-memenalism Richard, you wouldn’t understand.

Richard: I don’t understand, I really don’t. But I guess if that’s what you want to do I’m not gonna stop you…. I’m going back to my wormhole now, peace out.

Narrator: And so John and the rest of Dream Theater would go on to create the greatest meme metal work of our time, prompting the creation of various other meme genres, such as Atmospheric Internetcore, dmeme, and the ultimate form of musical meme, no-noise metal, which is just noise metal, exception without the noise or the metal, the ultimate form of ironic expression. John would die years later from having consumed too many image macros, only to reanimate back to life because dying became a meme, and he wanted to “be ahead of the curve”.


4/10

Rhapsody of Fire – Into the Legend ALBUM REIVEW

God damn it’s been a long time since I got to actually review (which means Gloryhammer doesn’t count) a power metal album I really enjoyed. I was initially quite put off by the immediately use of the typical fantasy music vii-i resolution, which by the way, can we just stop that? It really doesn’t add anything musical, it’s like literal filler in music form. You’re modulating by unrelated half steps, how is that supposed to make me feel anything? Anyway, I was soon proven wrong by a BLAST of energy, a crashing wave of pure symphonic euphoria that completely blew my socks off.

Let’s just start with that fucking production. Holy shit, this is some absolute top notch quality material. It’s super clean, but you can’t really feel how clean it is because there’s so much going on. So many production jobs that are super clean make that fact really apparent in how empty everything is. But Rhapsody of Fire makes sure that this isn’t the case, sending sonic booms through your ears, washing your consciousness away with pure epic music. It’s sort of like going to a high budget 3D IMAX movie. The plot line is mediocre, but the special effects are so fucking good you don’t give a shit. And I would gladly not give a shit, but Rhapsody thankfully gives me a good reason to.

Beyond simple effects like orchestra and choirs and synths, musically this album is far superior to the large majority of power albums I’ve heard. It’s not in a super in your face way, but there are enough interesting chords changes, and twists and turns throughout each track to keep me interested in every note on almost every track (I’ll get to that later). Sure there’s plenty of awesome shredding galore. But what’s better playing fast on a guitar? How about playing fast on a guitar and STILL incorporating riffs and being completely on topic to the chord changes and music! It’s shocking, it’s almost as if playing lots of notes doesn’t have to be completely brainless! Whoda thunk.

And it’s not just the music or the extra material, it’s the entire textural variety of the album. Every song is unique in its own way, and throughout the large majority of the album, despite it’s over hour long length, I did not feel bored. Aside from there just being soft tracks and loud tracks, but unique varieties of instruments and musical tone. Even tracks like Winter’s Rain, which has a relatively consonant melodic contour, has the backing of soaring operatic female vocals, of which creates actual tension in a power metal album. Tension in power metal? Strong emotional reactions to the music in power metal? These can happen? Apparently so. This same operatics is displayed on Valley of the Shadows, and it’s fucking over the top that on any other album I’d just groan at it. But it fucking works here, because it’s just executed so perfectly. Nothing feels forced, and it never seems like the band is biting off more than it can chew.

If there is one failure in Into the Legend, it’s actually the finale. And it’s really only because the track previous, Rage of Darkness, makes for such a great closer in itself. While it’s no longer than any of the other tracks, it ends with such finality, and contains one of the most awesome shred solos I’ve ever heard in a power metal album. If the album ends there it’s approaching 9/10 territory. However instead we get a 16 minute “epic”. While yes, it is a pretty awesome track itself, The Kiss of Life doesn’t feel like it evolves the album to its final conclusion. If anything, it feels like any of the other tracks, but longer and on a larger scale. Not bad by itself, but after hearing all the same tricks for 50 minutes prior, the album finally runs out of steam. It’s like the band had exhausted all of its ideas, and decided to end by just taking all those other ideas, and being even louder about it. Listen to that track was the first time on the entire album I felt bored. The 67 minute play time finally started to feel like a 67 minute album. And it’ such a shame, because I was really looking forward to putting my 9 pants on. Unfortunately, they’ll have to be kept back into the drawer for now.

Still, regardless of one large misstep, Into the Legend brings out a legendary performance that looks to be a hot contender for best power metal album this year.


8.5/10

Kitties of Death – Valley of the Death ALBUM REVIEW

You guys remember Happy Tree Friends? Remember when you discovered them in middle school and thought it was the edgiest and funniest thing in existence? This is basically the musical equivalent of that. It’s music for middle school kids to discover and share with their friends so that they feel like they’re all grown up. It’s a necessary part of the life cycle, but I don’t grade on how good of a teenage learning experience an album is. As far as music goes, this is complete and utter trash. “Avant-Garde” my ass.


0.75/10

Mechina – Progenitor ALBUM REVIEW

OFFICIAL SHITTY ALBUM CHECKLIST

Bland Symphonic backtracks?: Check
Shitty electronic bits that have nothing to do with the music?: Check
Vocals that sound like they belong in “Generic Djent album #3849230348”?: Check
Cheese that is simultaneously not self aware, but not totally sincere either?: Check
Nearly indistinguishable tracks?: Check
Mindless chugging?: Check
BONUS – Is it a Mechina album?: Check, double check

About the only thing Progenitor doesn’t check is incompetent musicianship, but these guys don’t exactly show they’re virtuosos either. I’ll admit the main riff of Cryoshock is actually pretty groovy, but everything else about this album is complete, and utter trash.


2/10