Thumbs up: +5
Welcome to Lkoturnindrin's obligatory rating system of 2012. There will be only one voice of reason, mine. And since I have loads of albums to review, that will be all.

Re-edits in process

Created by: Lkoturnindrin | 25.02.2012



1. Christian Mistress - Possession
[95] (traditional heavy, doom, female-fronted) Possession picks up where Agony and Opium left off albeit with a bit more confidence and a bit more spunk. Christian Mistress administers monster-crushing classic doom, packed with an additional heavy metal punch. Vocalist Christine Davis provides the undisputable grit and grime, an attention-grabbing feature that acts as the glue in the band's solid foundation. Fucking awesome!
2. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Piñata
[95] (avant-garde, symphonic, female-fronted) Diablo Swing Orchestra never ceases to amaze me. Since their original conception in 2003, Diablo Swing Orchestra has continuously and tirelessly redefined eccentricity simply by intertwining unexpected and original melodies. Pandora's Piñata is their third album, once more DSO pulled out all the stops and interestingly enough, this is the most 'metal' DSO has sounded to date. Not that that has hindered them in the slightest, balancing out the moderately heavy with their newly acquired full-time trombonist and trumpeter. Operatic diva Annlouise Loegdlund is among the most diverse classically trained women to grace the metal scene, her impeccable range and abilities breathe life into this overused cliché. Hands down, Pandora Piñata is one of the best albums this year.
3. High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
[95] (stoner, doom) I almost feel bad for Orange Goblin. I mean they tried, they really did. Who expected High on Fire to swoop in and steal the best stoner-doom outlet 2012 right from under them? I didn't. For a while I've held a 'meh' opinion of High on Fire, their brand of stoner-doom has always felt a little bit contrived. Lo and behold De Vermis Mysteriis showcases a band with their act together. While it's not a vast progression from previous efforts, it feels much more cohesive. And their sound actually does fall between traditional heavy and stoner doom. There is no more holding back, huh? Good.
4. Pharaoh - Bury the Light
[95] (traditional heavy, power) Pharaoh reminds me of a modern day Manilla Road, an adventurous, dramatic and tenacious mastery of heavy-power, though with a less eccentric, gruffer leading man. Tim Aymar has a fantastic range, brimming with authority and evil intention. There's no substitute for raw talent. As for the soundscape, Pharaoh has gathered the right balance of retro without replication, delivered alongside pummelling power without the extra cheese. Set to be an instant classic.
5. Ram-Zet - Freaks in Wonderland
[95] (avant-garde, gothic, female-vocals) Ram-Zet returns minus one violinist. Nevertheless the eccentricity has not been diminished nor the absence of Sareeta excessively noticed. Freaks in Wonderland launches into a thrillingly kooky apparel with effortless expertise. Charmed on by a vibrant vocal duo, mastermind Zet and the mesmerizing Sfinx, intermingled throughout eight outstandingly crafted tracks.
6. Anguish - Through the Archdemons Head
[85] (classic doom) Low down and dirty doom. Not the bleak and sorrowful gothic-doom collaboration but more towards the ghastly end of the scale. With the kind of awfully murky vocalist that only classic doom could favour. A ferocious and imposing debut, Anguish will integrate itself into your head. Highly recommended.
7. Aura Noir - Out to Die
[85] (black, thrash) Of course Norway delivers an assault on the blackened front. More unexpected is the ferocious thrash racket scorches their heels. Out to Die dominates the Aura Noir domain as the foulest piece of hellish filth ever injected into the collective metal mindsphere. It's not exactly a diverse palette per say, the blackened thrash has only one dimension, grotesque it may be, multifaceted it is not. Still Aura Noir seems to work best at this level. As a simple but effective release, it's pretty damn solid.
8. Be'lakor - Of Breath And Bone
[85] (melodic death) Of Breath and Bone stands upon the sturdy foundation of their prior releases and then embellishes beyond all excessively melodic death expectations. The aggressive atmosphere bellows furiously with impenetrable harmonies and pummelling rhythm, validating that Be'lakor are still a cut above the competition. The most recognizable shift in style is the incorporation of extensive emotive piano passages casting a haunting and multidimensional soundscape. Without a doubt Of Breath and Bone is a glorious masterpiece performed and produced with genuine commitment and zero compromise. This is sheer brilliance.
9. Beyond the Bridge - The Old Man and the Spirit
[85] (progressive, female-vocals) Fresh musicianship enthralled with all the right ingredients of an experimental journey, exhilarating highs and emotive lows on epic proportions. Nevertheless Beyond the Bridge suffers a minor flaw in that it lacks a polished finish. Yet considering the general quality, I can overlook this shortcoming, leaving The Old Man and the Spirit among the highlights of 2012.
10. Desecravity - Implicit Obedience
[85] (technical death) The Japanese stream of metal is more like a trickle, still every now and then a decent band pops up that reminds civilisation that Asia is still relevant to the metal circuit. Desecravity is one such act. Implicit Obedience is an impressive debut, thundering brutality fused with high quality desolation. Desecravity have their shit together. Oh and the cover art is fucking phenomenal!
11. Kreator - Phantom Antichrist
[85] (thrash) The interweb is (as always) up in arms with the tiniest hint of change because as we all know change is intrinsically evil. Not that Kreator have radically reformed. Phantom Antichrist provides the same degree of intensity and fast-paced groove to rival any of their prior releases. In reality Kreator are simply experimenting and adapting their style in order to avoid going stale and it for the most part it pays off. Phantom Antichrist is a well-rounded hybrid of killer thrash with consistently strong melodies that are gruellingly addictive and as heavy as fuck. Trust me, believe the hype. It's fucking awesome.
12. Lord Mantis - Pervertor
[85] (sludge, black) Fixtures of thick sludge intermingled with the essence of deepest black, Lord Mantis establish an insidious balance between the two that works extremely well. Stripped down to the most rudimentary form of austerity, Pervertor unleashes a harsh, foreboding soundscape, concise and consistent. This album took guts and ambition, no revelation that I find it pretty fucking awesome.
13. Lunar Aurora - Hoagascht
[85] (atmospheric, black) So how does one produce an atmospheric-black album without being transformed into a pretentious prick? The answer is a simple one, Hoagascht. As implausible as it might sound, Lunar Aurora incorporates all the contrived old nicks of the most clichéd subgenre in metal history and blends them under a vast, riveting organic landscape to produce an incredible work of art. I know. I'm shocked too. Have they redefined the genre? No. Have they pushed it to its conceivable limits? Yes. This is the standard of excellence all should strive for. No exceptions.
14. Master's Hammer - Vracejte Konve Na Místo
[85] (black, experimental) Croaky screams sound better in a foreign language (Polish or Czech, I'm not sure which), more archaic, demonic, austere, primitive, so on and so forth. The backdrop speeds through a striking eeriness extending into pounding up-tempo melodies, exciting and catchy as heck. In general it's refreshing to see a band association experimental black with a menacing stomper rather than predictably raw minimalism. I deem this awesome.
15. Orange Goblin - A Eulogy for the Damned
[85] (stoner rock, doom) Orange Goblin are no strangers to hard-hitting, retro rockin' tunes with their fantastically flunky flair but when it comes to pumping out stoner groove; Orange Goblin hit the proverbial nail on the head. It's all about the nostalgia, which they have. As well as an unruffled swagger that confidently courses throughout. Could this be the best damn record of their wonderful career? It's possible. I prefer to let it marinade before reaching such a conclusion. Still, a contester for album of the year.
16. Royal Thunder - CVI
[85] (rock, female-fronted) The Australian powerhouse Royal Thunder (epic name aside) are an unmistakable sneer of truly bloody rock and roll intermixed with a classically clean female vocalist, Mindy Parsonz. Their debut album CVI is a dandy little number, instantly recognisable and with fantastic variety. Hard-hitting and pummelling full-on rockiness intermixed with retro-blues, into one righteously gutsy rock and roll outlet. Parsonz is perhaps the most dynamic instrument, a magnetic mistress with a deeply commanding presence and a flawlessly dark performance. Royal Thunder is a band to watch out for and I certainly will.
17. Sigh - In Somniphobia
[85] (black, experimental, female-fronted) This is the sound of a macabre carnival imploding in on itself. Trademark black snarls moulded around a quirky, eccentric, uplifting jazz experiment that brings into question whether head-banging or hitting the dance floor is appropriate. This delicate fusion is so prevailing due to the underlining authenticity with which it's constructed. Sigh are never ones to skimp on the theatrics and In Somniphobia kicks everything up a notch. I think I'm in love.
18. Witch Mountain - Cauldron of the Wild
[85] (traditional doom, female-fronted) One of the grand highlights of 2011 was the discovery of doomsy blue groovers Witch Mountain and their compellingly gritty old-school doom comeback, South of Salem. Not a perfect album by any means but it glistered over with blue-blooded potential and the promise of another super-duper female-led doom troupe. Cauldron of the Wild bubbles above and beyond expectations, plummeting deeper and deeper into the portentous sludgy orientation with a powerful zealous. Once more the true centrepiece is the dynamic song mistress Uta Plotkin and her immeasurable smooth pipes and gravel rasps. Undoubtedly Cauldron of the Wild is an essential doom metal release.
19. Angel Witch - As Above, So Below
[75] (NWOBHM) New wave heavyweights Angel Witch return but with a period gap of 30 years between their landmark self-titled debut, As Above, So Below has a lot to live up to and those expecting a NWOBHM revival will be sorely disappointed. Angel Witch has cooled off in their old age but one could always chalk that up to the three decade discrepancy, in musical terms a lot has happened. Even so As Above, So Below is a concrete comeback, though a somewhat modest concoction.
20. Astral Doors - Jerusalem
[75] (traditional heavy, power) Cue adrenaline, ambition and sheer supremacy as Astral Doors open up another epic heavy masterpiece. This is heavy fucking metal. You need effort, actual effort to pull pedigree traditional metal off. Not to mention balls of steel. However there is an element missing, the memorable and distinctive frontman. Unfortunately Astral Doors began life as a Dio tribute act, and well yeah, you can blatantly tell. Unless Nils Patrik Johansson is the second coming. Anyways since everything else is pretty impeccable, I don't mind as much. So continue to rock dudes!
21. Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve
[75] (melodic death, progressive) The long-awaited follow up to 'Curse of the Red Rivers' sees the Finnish elite Mikko Kotamaki (Swallow the Sun), Marko Tarvonen (Moonsorrow), Olli-Pekka Laine (Amorphis) and Sami Yli-Sirnio (Kreator) reconvene in a vaguely Opeth hash. As one might expect Barren Earth resonates Finnish extravagances, slashes of melodic death, gentle extracts of folk within an intriguing progressive whirl. Inopportunely Barren Earth only ever reaches good rather than being propelled into great.
22. Candlemass - Psalms For the Dead
[75] (doom) Unfortunately Psalms For the Dead is to be the final studio release from Candlemass - through the band are not splitting up and intend to continue touring in some capacity - and while I don't personality find this one as thrilling as certain others from their rather extensive and superbly doomy back-catalogue, I don't have any real complains either. In all Psalms For the Dead is a memorable collection of intricate and cohesive tracks, the product of a perfectly packaged formula. In all, this is a good, solid effort with which to end on.
23. Dodecahedron - Dodecahedron
[75] (avant-garde, black) Having sprung the midst of nowhere, Dodecahedron has crafted a malleolus maelstrom of coarse crushing riffs and threatening obscure atmosphere. It's raw abrasion, experimental and completely uncompromising. Precisely how black metal should be.
24. Goatwhore - Blood for the Master
[75] (black, death, thrash) Blacken death-thrash, efficient and effective. Goatwhore never miss the mark nor notably raise the bar, they just repeatedly give you hell. Blood for the Master is structurally sound, exceedingly competent and yet very familiar, unsurprising since Goatwhore like to borrow extensively from existing bands. Nevertheless this brazen assimilation goes to their credit, rather than simple imitation or derivative rip-off, Goatwhore are akin to a collage of all the best elements. A powerful beast of an album, give me more.
25. Ihsahn - Eremita
[75] (black, progressive) Post-Emperor Ihsahn has not only remained strikingly artistically relevant but also managed to carve a solid experimental identity to be reckoned with. Eremita (hermit) is Ihsahn's fourth solo offering and seems to take a more lax approach to the progressive sphere. Almost effortless in production, the soundscape of Eremita is one of unspoiled ambiguity without coming across as convoluted. Unfortunately this is a release that will probably have fans divided, especially hot on the heels of the monumentally acclaimed After. Still, there is something genuine about Eremita, something that we don't see too often, something that beckons integrity and respect for the artist. That's something I have in spades for Ihsahn.
26. Les Discrets - Ariettes Oubliées...
[75] (atmospheric, shoegaze, female-fronted) Beautiful, enchanting, sublime and a whole host of gooey adjectives. Ariettes Oubliess… reflects a maturing act with a daring dreamscape. Les Discrets doesn't push boundaries in shoegaze terms, this is fairly standard. Yet there is a certain "je en sais quoi" regarding Les Discrets that gives them an appealing flavour. In all, a solid effort and a nifty follow up to their awesome debut.
27. Meshuggah - Koloss
[75] (death) While I'm not an avid death metal consumer, I feel the need to say fuck yeah. Koloss is certainly one crushingly colossal release - I wonder how many times that pun will be made. Meshuggah are uncomplicated yet a commanding force with a powerful hunger that pummels through a thick opaque shroud. Albeit frustratingly flat and a little repetitive across the board, the overall oppressive grandeur is undeniable. This is most excellent, almost makes me want to review their back catalogue.
28. Pact - The Dragon Lineage of Satan
[75] (black) As the name implies, Pact (with the devil) are a huge hunk of the occult. The Dragon Linage of Satan shreds into the inordinately dark and dingy realm of rough, raw black metal without going overboard, Immortal ludicrous overboard. In spite of the obvious inanities, the jagged disharmony is both intoxicating and exhausting. Pact with eat you up and split you out. Go on try them, I dare you.
29. Psycroptic - The Inherited Repression
[75] (technical death) Psycroptic have a good reputation and it's not undeserved. Shards of aggressive death served with a razor sharp technical edge accompanied with a deep complexity devotion that is borderline inspirational. Psycroptic have striven hard to create one unstoppable beast, all to the beat of their own maniacal drum and it's more than paid off.
30. Spawn of Possession - Incurso
[75] (technical death) Technical death maestros Spawn of Possession make their welcomed comeback after a six year absence, ready and rearing to descend. Even with the newly shuffled line-up, Incurso is precisely the kind of brutal, chaotic and delightfully twisted no nonsense complexity that will quench even the most demanding. Spawn of Possession embody their sub-genre like no other, to the very letter. It's as if they never left.
31. Unleashed - Odalheim
[75] (death, black) Odalheim is a perfect continuum of the new Unleashed direction, not to mention a pretty spiffy follow up to As Yggdrasil Trembles. Inserting a generous measure of straightforward, ferocious death metal with ample blackened-viking, Odalheim proceeds to take a harmonious march across mainland Europe and Vinland (Viking-speak for America). Unsurprisingly the outcome is a right, ripping roar of uncompromisingly brutality and unparalleled tenacity. Precisely the kind of beast I've come to expect, so bravo!
32. Woods of Ypres - Woods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light
[75] (melodic doom/rock) The majesty of Grey Skies and Electric Light is weighted in the subdued moments, the downhearted serenades coupled with the submissive drone of an authoritative narrative against typical doomy bedrock. Woods of Ypres are able to excel within the boundaries of their own grandiose constraints, unpretentious, unfathomable and wretchedly raw. This is David Gold's finest moment and a fitting end to a brilliant musician, Rest in Peace.
33. Alcest - Les voyages de l'âme
[65] (atmospheric, shoegaze) Alcest lay down a rare understated metal melancholia that will undoubtedly divide opinions. True, Les Voyages de L'ame is a step backwards, a compliment of their prior work almost, it still provides a source of solace. The otherworldly aesthetic is relaxing, almost spiritual, softly mingled with the occasional harsh current. Not their best release by far, yet the soaring beauty of Alcest prevails.
34. Coldworker - The Doomsayer's Call
[65] (death, grindcore) The latest offering from Coldworker almost slipped under the radar. Yet I unexpectedly enjoyed The Doomsayer's Call. It has all the fist pummelling antics of a rock solid death metal release. While there is some variation, it is quite subtle, a change of pace every now and then would really give Coldworker that extra kapow. Good overall but I have a sneaky suspicion this one will be more appreciated by the fans.
35. Detrimentum - Inhuman Disgrace
[65] (technical death) Inhuman Disgrace is neither new nor progressive. It is a simple taste of technical death metal and just that. It's genuine and straight to the ruthless point. And it has me impressed. Which is all anyone should care about.
36. Dreaming Dead - Midnightmares
[65] (melodic death, female-fronted) Unlike prior reviewed and ranked female-led metalcore harlots, Kells and The Agonist, Dreaming Dead vocalist Elizabeth Schall does not pull a jack-of-all-vocal-techniques-master-of-none-approach. Instead Schall has a gorgeously raw and raspy delivery as opposed to the aforementioned half-arsed method. Oh Dreaming Dead, how long have I been waiting for you! Despite being the band's second self-release, Midnightmares fares exceedingly well, seemingly fuelled by sheer musical conviction alone. More please!
37. Effloresce - Coma Ghosts
[65] (progressive, female-fronted) Effloresce exist to take the humdrum edge of mundane music. Consisting of exceptionally gifted individuals, channelling a whimsical reverie with a naturally progressive outlook, it's no small wonder Coma Ghosts is a powerful feat to behold. Moreover I'm ecstatic with the versatility of their female vocalist, one moment charming and ethereal, the next performing component screams. This is outstanding.
38. Grand Magus - The Hunt
[65] (traditional heavy, rock) When I first heard Iron Will, I was instantly hooked on the bold flavour Grand Magus was peddling. They had an inexplicably cool attitude which I admired, that and they never felt like they were trying. Flash forward four years and behold the latest Grand Magus offering, The Hunt. Granted it's not a bad release, not by any stretch of the imagination, nevertheless it lacks certain intensity. The Hunt feels limited and is generally underwhelming in the wake of prior releases. In short The Hunt is a good album, but next to Iron Will or Hammer of the North, there is going to be some disappointment.
39. Hour of 13 - 333
[65] (traditional doom) Hour of 13's self-titled debut is a terrific record. It has some nifty occult elements set to a nice, brassy doom backdrop and it always seemed to put me in a sinister mood. So it's safe to say that I had some high expectations for 333 but alas not all were satisfied. On the negative side, 333 can come across a little monotonous at times, and it doesn't seem to have quite the same bite as its predecessors. That being said, there is still the trademark clunky, gritty soundscape accompanying quintessential occult themes which round off the perfect doomy outlet.
40. Macabra - Blood-Nurtured Nature
[65] (death, thrash) The debut collaboration between Mark Riddick and Adrien 'Liquifer' Weber, Macabra interweaves a belligerent union amid quick-fire, crusty death (old-school style) and an extremely tight thrash underbelly. It's a pedigree release with the right surge of aggression/brutality/ferocity to whet the appetite of fans of either sub-genre. Means serious business prototype, recommended.
41. Nile - At the Gates of Sethu
[65] (death) Egyptian-inspired American death metallers seem to have provoked turbulent reactions amongst fans predominately for the less than desirable production values, monotonous progression and lack of overall impressive moments. This is not their best effort, that's for sure. Still, there are plenty of thrashingly splendid moments compacted around the general clunky, chunky unimposing array to illicit approval. At the Gates of Sethu simply requires you to lower your expectations ever so slightly. Or you could just pretend that it doesn't exist at all.
42. Sear Bliss - Eternal Recurrence
[65] (symphonic black) The latest incarnation of Sear Bliss succeeds in holding down the rough, grim black conjure with a subtle and sophisticated symphony edge, elegant and refined with tiny moments of charm. Eternal Recurrence morphs from hostile drone to melancholy beauty with a solid, dynamic lead, all the while standing in the shade of brilliance. Good effort.
43. Secrets of the Moon - Seven Bells
[65] (black) Seven Bells further replenishes and refines the Secrets of the Moon soundscape. It doesn't quite resonate as consistently as its predecessor (Privilegium) nor does it simply bow down and out. Seven Bells channels a new perspective, raw and audacious animosity. The down-tempo performances are gruelling tight, if a little long (to those of us who don't dig drone). In hindsight a little editing would have benefited the overall product, but well fuck it. I still love these guys!
44. Swallow the Sun - Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
[65] (gothic, death-doom) By far the most interesting Swallow the Sun release to date, horrendous clichés and the narrow variation aside. Cathedral Walls the surprisingly little gem, no small thanks to the cadent Anette Olzon, who is shaping up to be a captivating guest vocalist
45. Tank - War Nation
[65] (NWOBHM, traditional) War Nation is certainly no Honour and Blood, not by any stretch of the imagination. In the absence of their youthful zest and animated vitality, War Nation pales in comparison, lacking the essential ball busting punch of the New-Wave-of-British-Heavy-Metal movement. However, there is something refreshingly simple with the modern, more mature Tank that surprisingly doesn't frizzle out into complete bland hood. In essence, good but pretttie tame.
46. A Sound of Thunder - Out of the Darkness
[60] (power, heavy, female-fronted) Often female-led outlets opt for the classical approach. As delightfully inventive as this is, the all too polished, operatically flat void is repeatedly thrust upon us, as if technical prowess is the only credential femme metal requires. A Sound of Thunder does things differently. Their gutsy, dynamic song-mistress Nina Osegueda accomplishes soaring feats with unbridled passion, all set to a cheerful slab of cheesy power and classic heavy domination. This is a band to watch out for.
47. Corrosion of Conformity - Corrosion of Conformity
[60] (doom, rock, stoner) Corrosion of Conformity return with own brand of orthodox doom metal/rock that handles as a swell nod to the classics. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. Nevertheless there is an overwhelming stiffness that just refuses to go away. Doom should be uninhibited and unrestricted, this is neither. In short, a good effort but a little too reserved. Next time take more risks.
48. Diabulus in Musica - The Wanderer
[60] (gothic, female-fronted) Sound familiar? It should. Hot on the heels of Amberian Dawn, Pythia, Xandria and Epica, Diabulus in Musica, another female-fronted, symph-gothic, beauty & beast combo, unleash their sophomore album. While I can't fault the performance or execution, I can and will fault the uncanny resemblance to the aforementioned acts. Having said that, The Wanderer has a limited intake on cheese, tedium and wailing operatic leads, which surprisingly means they utilize the fem-metal formula the best. Kudos, I guess.
49. Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme
[60] (death) Unequivocally mindless, senseless and completely useless brutal death metal executed with a horribly bulky and at times straight-up disconnected soundscape, all the while topped off with a painfully flat grunter. However this is death metal, so I do wonder if this is actually a compliment? Reign Supreme is utterly devoid of substance, in a word it's ugly, head-ache inducingly ugly, pointlessly so. In addition, it tends to be a little samey and stifled as if over-formulated. So yeah, an okay attempt.
50. Evenoire - Vitriol
[60] (female-fronted, symphonic) Fresh faced newcomers Evenoire perform retro female fronted, you know in the similar vein of early After Forever, Epica and The Gathering, back when femme metal was a freeing experience. With breath-taking simplicity, Evenoire evoke an elegance once thought forgotten. Vitriol is a beautiful reminder of the unspoiled potential of femme metal, untapped but still unresolved. If like me, you are starting to tire of the endless bombastic-operatic approach is the only way to be heavy, then Evenoire are for you. This band have promise, trust me.
51. Jeff Loomis - Plains of Oblivion
[60] (progressive) Best known for his work with Nevermore, Jeff Loomis is a shredding maestro who has had his musical talents utilized to perfection in the past. Nevertheless this doesn't equate to crafting spectacular solo efforts as Plains of Oblivion is keen to point out. As the sophomore release, Plains of Oblivion feels closer to Loomis's home turf and while a strong exertion, it doesn't quite click over all. There are a few great moments and a few shamelessly generic ones as well. In a nutshell this is a decent and diverting album, its good, through a touch predictable.
52. Lethian Dreams - Season of Raven Words
[60] (gothic-doom, female-fronted) Since Draconian's quintessential gothic-doom and presently unsurpassed album 'Arcane Rain Fell', I've had a craving for such similar acts. While Lethian Dreams ranks a pretty close second, they still have several kinks to be worked out. It has the trademark gloomy chills and melancholic thrills one would expect as well as the aloof, emotional female vocals. On the downside, it drones on a bit and is very repetitive. Unfortunately this is also expected.
53. Lyriel - Leverage
[60] (gothic, female-fronted) The success of Leverage springs from their conviction and composure. Jessica Thiergung is a captivating song mistress, capable of conveying vibrant emotions with a sweeping prowess. The additional string element (violin and cello) lend a sultry, sensuality air that gives Lyriel the extra pop. Overall Leverage exhibits a softer, slicker soundscape, free from the unnecessary clutter of previous efforts.
54. Nephelium - Coils of Entropy
[60] (death) Nephelium piece together a reasonably gritty, old school death number with considerable girth, through a little bloated. Coils of Entropy has the capacity to be a killer, it simply runs on confusion along the way. Especially during the clumsy opening track but Nephelium does manage to improve over time. In general the grim overtones will be enough to reel in plenty of forgiving fans.
55. Oz - Burning Leather
[60] (traditional heavy) Twenty years dry and Oz reunites with a semi-new release containing a mere five original tracks. Nevertheless Burning Leather settles back into its old patch with some ease, it's a great mixture of traditional metal melodies and smashing NWOBHM grooves. Most importantly however, Oz seems confident within their own heaving riffs, governing vocals and strict old-style mind set. This is one robust mother, I for one am eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
56. Rizon - Masquerade
[60] (power, symphonic, female-fronted) I can really sink my teeth into Rizon. Masquerade is a really neato slice of quality symphonic-power with dual male and female vocals. In ample strength and quantity, complimentary as well as distinctive characters, Rizon utilises this contrast in singers in a far more progressive manner than the standard Beast-male, Beauty-female routine. Rizon probably aren't going to be the next big thing, they're still pretty good B-listers.
57. The Cult - Choice of Weapon
[60] (rock) Choice of Weapon doesn't disappoint - how could it? An upbeat rocky road trip complete with several memorable and incredibly catchy numbers, all accompanied by a nifty and nicely fitting vocalist, who sounds vaguely reminisce of Meatloaf? Or is that just me? The only real downside is the album artwork, somewhere between stupid and awful. Other than that, The Cult are too kewl.
58. Witchden - Consulting the Bones
[60] (sludge, doom) Not nearly as awesome as other doomy outlets, nevertheless there is enough unrelenting viciousness to give Witchden that true doom style. The vocalist tethers between ghastly and infantile, fortunately this extends and expands upon the ugly scenery. Fucking decent sludgy doom!
59. Amberian Dawn - Circus Black
[55] (power, symphonic, female-fronted) Too bad another female-fronted Finnish quintet beat Amberian Dawn to the sinister circus punch, huh? Too bad said other band did it better. Heidi Parviainen has a pretty voice, but classical vocals can be a tricky business, bland, hollow, overpowering and indistinctive, to name a few. Still, Amberian Dawn does deliver a classy rock-opera, comfortable and accessible. Too bad Circus Black sounds identical to every other Amberian Dawn release. Dull as dishwater.
60. Delain - We Are The Others
[55] (symphonic rock, female-fronted) To clarify: Delain is Within Temptation 2.0. Not that this necessarily makes them the one-dimensional, water-downed version trying to ride the success of an already established band. That's just a coincidence. And yet, for one reason or another, We Are The Others is less annoying than previous attempts. Progress at last. I suppose.
61. Chimp Spanner - All Roads Lead Here
[55] (progressive) Lets side step the stupid name that spoils the pristine soundscape carefully created by multi-instrumentalist Paul Ortiz, to a certain degree at least. All Roads Lead Here is a wonderfully smooth and sophisticated atmosphere keen to highlight a very talented and complex musician with a good quality production. Definitely worth exploration for the progressive crowd.
62. Epica - Requiem For The Indifferent
[55] (symphonic, female-fronted) I have an estranged relationship with Epica. Loved their debut, have not experienced similar emotions toward their preceding body of work. Epica have a formula, factory produced, synthetically wrapped, duplicated on a whim. Requiem for the Indifferent continues to flock the same dead horse with an ever so slight element of inflexibility, but it still falls flat on its face. I guess that what's happens when you regurgitate the same album five times in a row.
63. Eluveitie - Helvetios
[55] (folk, melodic death, female-vocals) In spite of the ranting and raving, Eluveitie never struck a chord with me. Why? Well Eluveitie are plain boring. Not just boring, plain boring, double the boring. Helvetios proves to be no exception to the curve. There are a few spirited moments, primarily in the title track yet these are largely drowned out by the weak, disorganised haze of the remaining record. & the female vocalist solo is ungodly horrendous.
64. Horisont - Second Assault
[55] (classic rock) There is a certain charm to be found in the vintage aesthetic Horisont are flogging. The singular sound of Second Assault does feel like it stepped right out of a time vortex and for that there is some enjoyment provided. However much like a horse, once something is dead, it remains dead. Those who continue to play retro rock in this modern era, really have to excel at it and awkwardly Horisont do not. There is a sense of aimlessness as well as the vocal department which tends to flounder, leaving much to be desired.
65. Jumping Jack - Trucks & Bones
[55] (hard rock) I almost wish there were more bands like Jumping Jack, rocking a cardboard cut-out of hard rock, pure, clear, simple. Trucks & Bones indulges in old school rock washed down with a contemporary Americanized score. Think a slightly less MTV friendly Nickleback. Whether this is an interesting quirk or an attempt to play it safe, I don't know. Or care much either. Jumping Jack has balls, short but sweet.
66. Lamb of God - Resolution
[55] (groove, thrash) Resolution has been receiving praise across the metal ballpark, while I can't argue that this is undeserved as it did successful hold my attention for approximately four to three songs. I'm just perplexed, it's not that great. Maybe it's' because they're popular and lord knows I hate all things popular.
67. Dario Mollo / Tony Martin - The Third Cage
[55] (rock) Tony Martin (five times Black Sabbath vocalist) and Dario Mollo collaborate for the third time on The Third Cage, a right ripping roar of accessible rock with a dainty metal crust. Substantially diverse and easy to enjoy despite being firmly rooted in the hard rock niche. There are a few downers, the vocals can grate and it has some moments of blandness but basically a good strong release overall.
68. Primal Fear - Unbreakable
[55] (power, heavy) Primal Fear peddles another average and unsubstantial impersonation of Judas Priest. It's animated, clearly clambering to usher in new metal anthems, but ultimately provides nothing new. Except reminding me how amazing Painkiller is. In short, Unbreakable is a stable shot, but relatively pedestrian.
69. The Agonist - Prisoners
[55] (metalcore, female-fronted) Derivative, contrived and woefully vanilla metalcorers The Agonist delivers another lacklustre release with an increasingly wimpy vocal delivery. Clearly I just don't get it.
70. Vengeance - Crystal Eye
[55] (glam rock) Performing straightforward and unapologetic glam rock, Vengeance are fabulously outdated 80s revival. A niffy little reminder of this most animated genre in all its crowing silliness. Vengeance remains Vengeance and nothing else. That will probably never change.
71. Xandria - Neverworld's End
[55] (symphonic, female-fronted) Jumps on bandwagon: Manuela does sound reminiscent of Tarja Turunen. Promptly jumps off bandwagon: On their best day Xandria couldn't compete with Nightwish on their worst day. Neverworld's End showcases the same old metal lightweights, glossing over their total lack of identity by being as generically safe and as Nightwish rip-off as physically possible.
72. Black Messiah - The Final Journey
[50] (symphonic black, folk) Upon viewing the goofy artwork I was fully prepared to detest this one, fortuitously the goof element is restricted to the front cover alone. This is more symphonic/classical that I initially anticipated. The fiddle is a prominent and attractive component in particular. On the other hand, I'm not too thrilled with the length and repetitive nature of some songs.
73. Drakkar - When Lightning Strikes
[50] (power) One-unproductive-struggle-to-reach-the-end later and I soon realise just how unmemorable Drakkar are, neither good nor bad just remarkably unmemorable. What a waste of time. Here's a thought, if the objective is 'warrior-metal' then the outcome has to be even a tad intimidating but I'm starting to digress. The power sub-genre can do better, much better.
74. Ektomorf - The Acoustic
[50] (acoustic) There is some vague comical charm to an acoustic Ektomorf album, considering they've never appealed to me before. Yet the significance of Ektomorf as a competent music entity is somewhat lost on me.
75. Heaven Rain - Second Sun
[50] (symphonic, female-fronted) Heaven Rain are pleasant enough but extremely commonplace in the female-fronted sonic sphere, competently tuned but missing the extra oomph.
76. Hellvetron - Death Scrolls of Seven Hells and its Infernal Majesties
[50] (death, doom, funeral) Hellvetron show a reasonable amount of promise. It's therefore unfortunate that they do not harness their potential and try to push above and beyond the metal curb. Perhaps the crux of the matter is that Hellvetron lacks any sort of identity and there is a genuine disinteresting in trying to establish one. As it stands, Death Scrolls (already a better title) is monotonous, unfulfilling and underdeveloped.
77. Immolith - StormDragon
[50] (black) Immolith are a solid, coordinated black metal act but overall StormDragon does not shape up to be anything special at all. It is sorely underwhelming as a whole and stubbornly refuses to go anywhere or indeed add to anything. This is a dime a dozen release performed as well as to be expected from a dime a dozen band.
78. Kells - Anachromie
[50] (gothic, metalcore, female-fronted) Metalcore has never appealed to me, largely because of it's a tween, whiny wankfesty with no redeemable qualities. However one should never underestimate the power of a female voice, as is in the case of Kells. Her clean vocals make all the difference, they are sublime. On the other hand those limp, monotone, crappy screams sound stupid. Congrats you're a five!
79. Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline
[50] (alternative, rock, female-fronted) Two thick wads of Americanised nu-metal piffle later and Lacuna Coil have not regained their integrity. Dark Adrenaline runs its derivative and repetitive course with uncomplimentary male and female duo, no small thanks to the appalling and unnecessary male singer. A slightly better and tolerable effort than before.
80. Lands of Past - Neverending Story
[50] (symphonic, female-fronted) In a word: Average. Not bad, not good, right bang in the middle. Just there.
81. Lanfear - This Harmonic Consonance
[50] (progressive, power) Not as bad as I expected. Lanfear chug smooth power with the right amount of proggy variance to be deemed acceptable. Yet in the long run Lanfear are just unexciting. Maybe it's a personal preference deal.
82. Lillian Axe - XI: The Days before Tomorrow
[50] (melodic rock) Lillian Axe used to be a late 80s glam/hair act. Not anymore. Now Lillian Axe has developed into a disillusioned, disheartened and all round disappointing product. Cross out youthful zest and replace with awkward arrangements, forgettable songs and extraordinarily bad lyrics (helpful hint: rhyming is not always a necessity). The whole album needs to get laid.
83. Lunar Path - Memento Mori
[50] (gothic rock, female-fronted) On the surface Lunar Path certainly possesses the ability to put together a decent release. Nonetheless they invariably fall short of the mark. There are intervals of genuine pleasantry but these are regrettably washed over with the typical symphonic padding and over polished production. Repeated fourteen times too many.
84. Pathfinder - Fifth Element
[50] (power) I probably shouldn't like this. And yet I do. Strange. Pathfinder are not breaking the power-metal model, quite the opposite in fact. This is a strictly paint by numbers job and yet… I like it. Perhaps it's because Pathfinder are not just doing everything to the letter, they are also doing everything exceptionally well. Everything and I do mean everything soars above you! And hey, who doesn't want to hear about how awesome metal is, every now and again?
85. ReinXeed - Welcome to the Theater
[50] (symphonic power) There is something inherently joyous about Welcome to the Theatre (yes, I am being pedantic). Presumably it has to do with the source material, power anthems about Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones and The Terminator - friggin' awesome! It's pretty silly and of course pretty cheesy but also just a bit of harmless fun.
86. Sabaton - Carolus Rex
[50] (power) Hey does the music feel familiar? Well it fucking should. Sabaton churn out your standard non-genre descriptive bombastic beat to pad over waffling and repetitive songwriting. Bored yet? I am. This shit is not innovative or inspiring if everyone is fucking doing it. Oh and what exactly is the point of a Swedish version? Why don't you just fucking sing in Swedish? See that would be innovative now wouldn't it?
87. Sorrowful Angels - Omens
[50] (gothic, death-doom) Standardised gothic and yet somehow Sorrowful Angels aren't all that bad. Notwithstanding the tedious clichés, Omens commits full-heartedly to producing the best slab of assessable, catchy and resounding gothic mush of ostentatious heavy-pop. Fans of this genre will really enjoy this one, but personality, I feel underwhelmed, like I've heard them one to many times before.
88. The Mariana Hollow - Velvet Black Sky
[50] (rock, female-fronted) Mariana and her Hollow would have been interesting if they had actually hired a singer who could do more than the bare minimum required. Critically vocalist Rebecca Spinks demonstrates her limited abilities every time she substitutes singing for nasal whining. Combined with weary gothic blandness and you're left with boredom central.
89. Vinterbolt - Nether Collapse
[50] (melodic death) Vinterbolt execute with a high standard of control, as a consequence Nether Collapse is a well mastered, well written slice of melodic death. Unfortunately there are no exceptional moments, nothing that brings a shade of brilliance to the table. This is a good album, but there is room for improvement.
90. Avatar - Black Waltz
[40] (melodic death) The music is shit. The vocals are shit. The cover is shit. I guess that's unanimous. This is shit.
91. Biohazard - Reborn in Defiance
[40] (hardcore) Don't get it. Don't want to get it. Don't give it to me.
92. Dragonforce - The Power Within
[40] (power) I have no interest in Dragonforce. I see nothing has changed.
93. Ecliptic - Journey Saturnine
[40] (power, female-vocals) Ecliptica provide flat male and female vocals alongside particularly weak harmonies, resulting in epically uninteresting and mind-numbing tunes. Stay away from them as long as you can.
94. Europe - Bag of Bones
[40] (traditional) Immediately press stop. Locate Final Countdown. Hit play.
95. Nightqueen - For Queen and Metal
[40] (power, female-fronted) As fainthearted, flamboyant, power-pop goes, Nightqueen are a real lightweight. There's a fine line between accessibly kamp and pure tact, not that Nightqueen care as they floundered on the shitty side. Perhaps the band thought they could rest on their brittle, banal, restricted vocalist? No and no.
96. Sarah Jezebel Deva - Malediction
[40] (gothic, female-fronted) Uninteresting, humdrum, mundane, tedious, unexciting, commonplace, characterless, boring, stale, trite, vapid, lifeless, dull. Deduct 10 points. Features two members of Cradle of Filth, deduct a further 50points.
97. Scream Silence - Scream Silence
[40] (gothic) I cannot even fathom the type of person who would think this good. Gothic metal is an inconsistently wide genre, in order to stand out one has to be on top of their game or have something original on the cards. Not a generic, wimpy, trite, monotonous, piss-poor knock off. Way to pussy out.
98. The Murder of My Sweet - Bye Bye Lullaby
[40] (symphonic, female-fronted) As I have been labelled a femme-metal fan, people are too quick to assume I will like every band with a female vocalist and thus recommended me crap like this. Let me reiterate, this is crap. The Murder of My Sweet are lacklustre crap. There is no effort, no ambition, no thought-process beyond - lookie we have a chick who can sing! Yes, because that's so novel these days. Actually it's kinda sad that 'women' have become little more than gimmicks in metal.
99. Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth
[40] (glam rock) Rock legends, Van Halen decide now is the time for new material, despite no expectation or even demand. Unless this some elaborate excuse for a stadium tour. Did I say elaborate? I meant poor. A Different Kind of Truth is uncomfortable, painful and painfully uncomfortable. This is the musical equivalent to old men having a mid-life crisis, not exactly the glam rock and roll package I was expecting.
100. Voices of Destiny - Power Dive
[40] (power, symphonic, female-fronted) Operatic female-led power/symphonic metal? Wow, that's never been tried before. I think I see real potential for creativity and originality here! Or just blasts of poppy bombastic symphony, angelic female vocals mingled with unbearably awful male growls, you know the usual. VoD have also managed to substitute presence, personality and individual style with a bad album title.
101. Wolfsbane - Wolfsbane Saves the World
[40] (heavy, classic rock) Despite the return of another golden oldie, Wolfsbane doesn't sound regularly reminiscence of its origin. Having been around the music industry for decades, one might expect them to have picked up a trick or two, or more importantly be able to retain said information. Instead of farting out flat and unfulfilling material with such a low production that it renders the end artefact amateurish. The world is fucking doom.
102. Zerocrowd - Rout
[40] (melodic death) Astonishingly Zerocrowd struggle to put together even one decent number. Their approach to melodic death is clunky, cluttered and generally disengaging. I have nothing else to say.
103. Cadaveria - Horror Metal
[30] (gothic, female-fronted) Cadaveria have blown phenomenally in the past, but this is an entirely new level of bullshit. Bad news you suck. Good news Opera IX do too.
104. Freedom Call - Land of the Crimson Dawn
[30] (power) There is a difference between do something and do something right. Glorified half-baked, over-sympho mulch needs to recognise this. Do not waste time, money or oxygen.
105. Nothnegal - Decadence
[30] (melodic death) This is horrific. Considering how lifeless, unbearable and tremendously weak this one dimensional tripe is, I'm physically stunned with the amount of praise Decadence is generating. Talentless hacks without a shred of dignity churning out exceeding tiresome shit. Emphasis on the shit.
106. Pythia - The Serpent's Curse
[30] (gothic, symphonic, female-fronted) As almost unbelievably unimpressive as their debut was, Pythia have really managed to outdo themselves. The Serpents Curse takes one massive leap backwards, spinning a disjointed, dishevelled yarn with a high-pitched vocalist sticking out like a musical eye-sore. Fuck this.
107. Savage Messiah - Plague of Conscience
[30] (thrash) Superbly unremarkable, click snooze.
108. Sicocis - Sicocis
[30] (death, thrash) Fire the singer. Immediately. Nails on a chalkboard would be an improvement.
109. Your Tomorrow Alone - Ordinary Lives
[30] (gothic) Automatic spell check corrects 'your' to 'you're'. Know why? Because Your Tomorrow Alone doesn't make grammatical sense! And for that you fail.
110. Semargl - Satanic Pop Metal
[20] (industrial, pop) This is just repulsive. Here's my middle finger, go swivel.
111. Skylark - Twilights of Sand
[20] (power, female-fronted) Skylark must have found mediocre too high to aim for and instead aspired to just be unbelievably amateurish. With a female vocalist who sounds twelve years old. It's time to retire, guys.
112. Wykked Wytch - The Ultimate Deception
[10] (absolute shit) Urgh, incorrect spelling is not kvlt. It's pretentious, puerile, contrived bullshit and then some. Why advertise a complete lack of imagination, originality and wit? Oh wait this is Wykked Wytch, never mind. The Ultimate Deception is an appalling mediocre, monotone mess devoid of anything remotely constructive, there is no personality and there is no potential. There is nothing, only Ipek and her cringe-worthiness as she plops along. This music has no value, this is an abomination. Please die.
113. Eklipse - A Night in Strings
[unrated] This is not metal. This is not even metal covers. There is nothing metal about this band. Why are they even here metalstorm? That being said Eklipse are not a bad band, certainly not deserving the low ranking this site has given them. But than what did you expect? Eklipse are not metal! I've left them unrated because this is a metal list.



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by Lkoturnindrin ]



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Koen Smits - 02.03.2012 at 21:50  
I like the mini-reviews. Good work!
IronAngel - 02.03.2012 at 23:10  
I see you too had the misfortune of running into that Semargl album. I feel for you.
Milena - 06.03.2012 at 01:54  
Quite an interesting thing you've got going there - we need more lists with descriptions everyone! I'll make sure to watch this one.
R'Vannith - 24.03.2012 at 02:47  
I've seen that Ram Zet in about three lists now, and in each it's been near the top. I'm going to check that one out pronto.
Susan - 30.09.2012 at 07:18  
Hooray for list makers who actually take the time to add descriptions! I actually read these.

Xandria: "Neverworld's End showcases the same old metal lightweights, glossing over their total lack of identity by being as generically safe and as Nightwish rip-off as physically possible."

Oh my god I thought I was the only one who felt this way. SNOOZE FEST! No idea what anyone found redeeming in this album except that it was released first this year and people got all nostalgic for better bands who are actually worth anything. On the plus side it makes a nice coaster.

And a giant FUCK YES for putting Christian Mistress - Possession at the top of your list. It's certainly near the top of mine. What a damn good piece of metal.

"Goatwhore are akin to a collage of all the best elements. A powerful beast of an album, give me more."

Yes, yes, and yes. I'd rate it even higher.

Sad that you didn't like ReinXeed, it's my best so far for power metal this year.
Cynic Metalhead - 30.09.2012 at 10:09  
Great list. After long time, someone mentioned "Christian Mistress's Possession'" in their list and that too be on the TOP. It was such a great album that for a week I was like spinning for every minute. Well, need to check it out some bands you mentioned out here and I think it's looking fucking great to read the mini-review of that. will check it out soon.

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