Official Chart Reviewers Club Thread (Purely Optional)

First Post August 01, 2023 11:27 PM

I'm starting this thread to have a personal weekly project here.  Anyone else can join here if they want to.  Just and Ben and Daniel are hoping to make something big out of the whole website, I'll hope to make something big out of this thread.


Every week , one album is chosen from the top charts page here:  Posters review that one album with five ratings or less.  So all clans get fair game, we'll choose albums from those specific clans in the order they appear on the clans page, which means we'll be starting with The Fallen.

The clans themselves (if they participate) will get to discuss and pick their album for the week.  Otherwise, I'll pick.  And to keep it fair, not only will I pick albums I haven't reviewed yet, but I'll start with albums that are only part of that clan for the time being.  At the end of the week a new album from the next clan will be chosen for reviews.

This post will be edited each time a new clan album is chosen. The first album chosen will be posted on a separate post to keep the OP clean.

August 02, 2023 12:28 AM

This week's FALLEN album:

Hell - Hell (a.k.a. Hell IV) (2017)

Genres: Sludge, Doom

Votes: 1

Reason: This was a pretty difficult choice.  But I came to this conclusion when I saw some great ratings for MSW's Oblivion.  Before operating under that name, he was "Hell."  He made a series of concept albums pertaining to being trapped in hell.  This is the fourth of the series, as I had already rated the first three, but I also hear that this album is a good and less challenging album for those uninitiated in his combination of sludge, drone and doom (aka, perfect Fallen material).

Review: When I listen to a Hell album, I expect something soul-crushing.  I will not settle for anything less, not after thejobs Hell II and III did to me.  I gave both of those albums five stars for the way they improved on the imaginative but flawed debut.  I've been meaning to finish up the Hell / MSW catalogue for a while now, and reviewing is the best way I can think of to spread the word about this brilliant act.  I had full faith in Hell IV to deliver the atmospheric goods, and it didn't let me down.

Now the digital bandcamp release takes the outro, "Seelenlos," and makes it the intro by putting it at the start of the album.  So depending on which version you'd like, be careful. the spoken word post-rock is a pretty standard but nice intro / outro track that either puts the listener at a calm at the end of the album, or one that's that's obviously going to build up into that soul crushing power, playing to a weird avant-garde poem with some odd and intriguing imagery to it.   I listened to the album with the song at the start, and then decided to play it again at the end so that I could absorb both effects.

The album rarely takes part in the same drone metal that was the major focus of the first two hell albums.  The soul is crushed very quickly by the brutal heaviness of "Helmzmen," which seems to incorporate the slightest hint of Sabbath in the melodies while MSW uses weird effects to make either him or his guitar (I can't even tell sometimes) sound like a literal fucking demon.  I gotta get myself that voice box :P.  We get slight variations of this pattern throughout the whole album.  I found myself patiently waiting for the next demonic growl, squeal, screech or whisper to echo through the canyons, and thought it was just the COOLEST thing when they vocal effects morphed into powerful wind-style effects at the end of SubOdin.  Beautiful combination of tech and imagery there.  But the raw power of the album really emerges with the brutal and loud "Machitikos", which takes the percussions up a heavier notch while multiple guitars chug to an excessively eerie and heavy chugging riff before we get a freaky black metal guitar solo turning the album from a standard doom album into a METAL album for a short time.  Next we have a kind of stoner track building up atmosphere through weird voice samples being overpowered by Sabbath and Saint Vitus style riffs: WanderingSoul.  Basically, this is the track for the metal fan rather than the atmos fan, although it still has a decent atmos to it.  Then we have something more on the drone side with "Inscriptus," which is all about the dark atmosphere.  The rhythm is a little more complex that most of what we've had before, and the fear factor on this track is pretty high.  I'd say this is the track with the most creativity thus far.  The album ends with the twelve-minute epic, "Victus."  This is where everything comes together for a complete breakdown of all the types of styles that the album wrought upon the ears of the listener, especially when the black metal riffs merge with the windy storm effects and the death metal growls, the very combo that proves that this is a Hell album.  Afterwards it gives the listener a very slow and symphonic midtro that calms us down with depression after such a heavy wave of evil had been beaten upon the listener's head for the last 40 minutes, before bring us back to the despair of doom basses and black guitars.

Most of the crush factor is performed by the guitars and bass.  MSW made a point of bragging about the bass on his Bandcamp, talking about how "disgustingly awesome" they are.  I'd say MSW earned his bragging rights, because the filth level here would make some of the dirtiest sludge bands on earth jealous.  This is filthier than Melvins ever got, and I expect nothing less from Hell.  I wish the percussions were a bit harder-hitting, and they felt a bit like the weakest point of the album.  On top of that, I didn't get the full sense of variety that made numbers II and III so good.  But at the same time, while the album was soul-crushing, it was never too much or too challenging, because the two main focal points of the album were atmospheres and riffs.  This was less about drawing out the fear factor and the concept and more about using the music as a more accessible way to get into the concept of the series.  I can get behind that.  As such, I can also get behind the notion that this is the more accessible of the four albums, and is also a good intro for the four-album series.  I honestly recommend this as the starting point for Hell, as I and II might be a little more challenging due to their usage of length as an atmospheric tool.  I can also appreciate the lessened usage of post-rock, which made Hell III feel like a sadness album as often as a fear album, but also seemed like the very thing Hell III needed to separate itself from the first two albums and wasn't necessarily needed here.

The whole Hell catalogue can be found on MSW's bandcamp page, and I recommend you get through all of them.  I don't care if you decide to go through them chronologially or not, because you really don't need to, even though that's what I did.  But I still recommend you get through the least challenging album first, and to me that's Hell IV.  This lived up to the atmospheric factor as well as I could've hoped for, and because of that alone it will stand with the other Hell albums as modern classics, even if its stronger sludge and doom sounds might not attrack the gothic, black and death fans that II and III could.  The writing might not be as clever, but the power is still there in full force.  I'd even go as far as to say that, as an album, it's better than the debut.


August 02, 2023 10:45 PM

I took the liberty of composing a list of choices for each week for the whole year, categorized by clan, obviously.  Suffice it to say, I have next week's Gateway album already planned out.

August 06, 2023 11:33 PM

Accidentally deleted this when I tried to edit it, so posting it again :P

Here's a hint for the next Gateway album.

What I wanted to say in editing it was, even if you guess right, I won't reveal the correct guess until Tuesday.

August 08, 2023 10:08 PM

Today's GATEWAY album:

Primus - Suck On This (1989)

Genres: Funk Metal, Alt-Rock, Alt-Metal

Votes: 2

Reason: Primus is a pretty big name band.  So for their cult-classic debut to only have 2 votes on what may one day become one of the world's most relevant metal databases feels just wrong.  These guys practically reinvented funk.

Review: Funk metal isn't a genre I take that seriously.  Most of it is just a bunch of dorks mindlessly ambling on either "cool" or "experimental" music without really taking the time to appreciate the music.  Thankfully, Primus keeps their weirdness more palatable without diving too far into either side of the funk metal spectrum.  They're just cool and experimental enough for their personalities to do the rest of the work, and that was clear from their live debut album.

Now I've heard this album once before, and at the time I gave it a 94/100.  So it was damn close to a five-stars.  Will it hold up?

The first thing I noticed was that the production is WAY better than a live debut album by a bunch of experimental dorks had any right to be.  It wasn't "perfect," as the sound quality is just slightly fuzzy.  But you can hear everything clearly.  So when we get into the really wild stuff, like the funk and riff-heavy Groundhog's Day, we're pretty much getting more than what we paid for.  They made it perfectly clear that, even though they're a bunch of comedians, they know how to jam and groove.  That bass of Claypool's is perfect for the weird rock and metal being played.  You can feel the Bootsy love.  But the best thing about it is how well the crazy but controlled drums carry the funky  and noisyriffs.  Never let it be said that Herb can't drum.

Even though they're a wacko band, they also have some deep, surreal and psychedelic vibes, like the middle section of Pressman.  Who would've thought comedic experimental funk metal could get so hypnotic and aural?  And this is right before that Sabbathy doom solo on the same song.  Pressman might be my favorite song on the album just for that.  After that, the album gets easier to let yourself just go with the flow.  I came to realize that the band is kind of mocking the weirdness of funk, likely with the band's whiteness.  But it works.

Anyway, I gotta say, even though I don't know if I can take the music seriously enough to give it five stars, I think that 94/100 rating I gave it before was pretty accurate.  Maybe my biggest concern is that they didn't really change their pace or sound as often as I would've liked, but they kept it fun.  I mean, seriously.  This is a VERY fun album.  You just kick back and let the weirdness do all the talking, jamming out like you're listening to a Ramones album.  Although it's not QUITE as original as I remember, I still recommend it.


August 14, 2023 07:47 PM

OK, the hint for the Guardians album coming tomorrow:

August 14, 2023 10:14 PM

The Crimson Chin! (not my guess, just recognized who that character is)

August 15, 2023 10:12 PM

This week's GUARDIANS album:

Crimson Glory - Crimson Glory (1986)

Genres: US Power Metal

Votes: 4

Reason: Crimson Glory's most famous album, Transparency, has 6 votes already, so I figured I might as well bring this to the charts with its brother.

August 15, 2023 10:33 PM


Crimson Glory is a name I've been aware of ever since I got into power metal, having heard of them back when Rateyourmusic still lumped US power metal in with regular power metal from Germany.  Some even call them a prog band (which feels wrong, now that I know what they sound like), but the reality of it all is that whatever tag they have, they've still got a huge following because their heavy metal approach is clean, memorable, authentic and as a result: generic.

It was pretty obvious from Valhalla what I was getting into.  Crimson Glory is basically joining the average 80's heavy metal collective with a beautiful and perfect presence that largely overcomes a generic sound.  But even though the talent and the power were there, I really can't say I was given any "surprises," just a really good time.  I mean, speed metal songs like Mayday are really easy to rock out to, and any heavy metal guardian should get at least SOME enjoyment from the fact that the band is really putting in some effort here, even if they can't reach above the level of the genre tropes they follow.  Let's take a look at the epic and well-structured Queen of the Masquerade.  It's slower and its easier to get soaked in its almost Gothic vibes, even though the song's guitars are often louder than they need to be.

Some songs have some very noticeable flaws among all the energy, metal attitude and strong personality.  For one thing, Lost Reflection might be pretty, but as a melodic piece, Crimson Glory made a bad decision putting in so many electric metal songs before that one ballad, so it felt out of place until it got to its heavier parts.  On top of that, the melody needed work.  And Dragon Lady kind of just did its own thing.  Midnight's vocal displays of obvious pretentiousness didn't have a rhythm that felt appropriate with the rest of the instruments.

So each song is either decent or good, but there are a couple great tracks.  This album offered me nothing I haven't already heard from a plethora of albums throughout every year of the 80's, but it's enjoyable for what it's worth.  It's a good introductory album for anyone looking into heavy metal, but there are plenty of albums that blow this out of the water.  After so much hype, I expected more.


August 21, 2023 08:53 PM

Here's the hint for tomorrow's HORDE album.

The Fallen The Horde The North The Pit
August 21, 2023 10:32 PM

So it's Japanese? Um... Intestine Baalism - An Anatomy of the Beast?

I see that SilentScream213 reviewed it this week.

August 22, 2023 02:24 PM

I did try to make a review of the Crimson Glory album in time, but alas, it turns out I'm not terribly good as describing an album I love as much as their debut in that little time.

August 22, 2023 08:24 PM

I did try to make a review of the Crimson Glory album in time, but alas, it turns out I'm not terribly good as describing an album I love as much as their debut in that little time.

Quoted Morpheus Kitami

I typically write my reviews and feeling as I'm listening to the album, taking notes and fleshing them out after finishing the album.  That might help.

August 22, 2023 08:26 PM

This week's HORDE album:

Nile - In Their Darkened Shrines (2002)

Genres: Tech Death, Brutal Death

Votes: 2

Reason: A couple other Nile albums are in the main chart with more than five votes, but this album is one of their highly regarded classics, and it only has two votes, this this was a perfectly easy choice.

August 22, 2023 10:23 PM


Now I've heard a few Nile albums, but not this one yet.  These guys are one of the leading figured in brutal tech, along with Suffocation and Cryptopsy.  Many death bands take their cues from these three bands, but Nile was different in the sense that a little of that brutality was replaced with mythological themes.  But even though Annihilation of the Wicked is their most beloved, this was the album that really cemented their place among the greats.

The intro started out similarly to how I would start out a tech metal album, weird and melodic at the same time.  Overtime, the album would cover a variety of moods and atmospheres with this single genre, taking time to be proggy, epic and doomy like with Unas, Slayer of the Gods, or speedy and catchy, like with Kheftiu Asar Butchiu, or just plain evil like Churning the Maelstrom, which reaches Devourment levels of brutality.  Notice, that this is only in the track 4-6 string.  This kind of thing just keeps happening throughout the whole album, which means these guys are writing a collective of very different metal songs with the one or two styles they play (as a further example, track eight uses fast guitars at a slow pace almost like an atmo-black metal song).  I've mentioned before that this kind of feat isn't as common as it should be, and I typically tend to hold albums like this in high regard.

While the style itself and the formatting of each song isn't always new or revolutionary, their moods and tricks are all healthy enough to keep the album entertaining.  This is largely because of a very strong depth to the band's personalities, effortlessly perfecting the "mood" aspects and overshadowing their own technical and songwriting skills, as good as the writing is on its own.  Our epic Unas, Slayer of Gods is probably one of the finest death metal songs I've ever heard.  It's an 11-minute track I'd easily return to if I was in the mood, and honor I've only ever given two 11-minute epics in my life: Through Silver in Blood by Neurosis, and the album version of Anything for Love by Meat Loaf.  But early on, there seems to be a point of technicality going against the organization of each layout.  This point is made especially obvious during the short second track: Exacration Test.  This is only occasional, but noticeable.  But the album REALLY digs into the moods and themes by the time our four-part titular epic begins, and it stays that way.

There seems to be an ongoing battle as to whether or not Nile can be counted among "brutal" bands, considering that they're a little less brutal than the rawest of these bands.  It doesn't help that the general consensus is that their latter albums were less brutal.  I'd say this album makes the cut, though less obviously.  It's that more tame brutality that brings out the atmospheres, so I'd say the small sacrifice was needed.

I'd say that my needs as an aspiring critic and a death metal fan are more than met.  Only very slightly in need of rewriting, this a very diversified and surprising album with an excellent mythical and horrific vibe about it.  I can picture a number of aspiring death metal bands taking a few cues from this one.  Now I need to replay Annihilation of the Wicked to compare the two properly.  This is some prime death metal here.


August 29, 2023 07:18 PM

Sorry about forgetting the hint.

This week's INFINITE album:

Devin Townsend - Synchestra (2006)

Genres: Prog Metal

Votes: 4

Reason: Devin Townsend is one of prog's most important figures.  ALso, this only needs one more vote to enter the charts.

August 29, 2023 09:25 PM

This is the kind of album where fluctuations in quality are a little more noticeable thanks to the consistency of the sound, despite the variety we get.  We have a much more melodic take on the signature sound of Biomech, making it feel less aquatic and more like an album by Genesis.  Even short bursts of melody like Hypergeek have this cute factor about it that makes the album stand out from normal metal.  I mean, if anyone tells you that Townsend is significantly less "gritty" than metal tends to be, albums like this prove you right, even though we have some very rough moments here, depending on what's appropriate.  That shoegazey noise-metal of Biomech finds its way onto Synchestra in bits, only applying on the most necessary bits for atmospheric and unpredictable touches.  Although sometimes we get some inappropriate diverse bits, like the short bluegrass solo in the middle of Triumph, or freakin' Vampolka.  These 180's from the tone of the album don't combine variety with consistency in an effective way, and feel unnecessary.

I noticed that Townsend's vocals are much more metal, like he's taking influence from Ronnie James Dio.  And it's working.  He's up to both his usual screaming and his softer Dream-Theatrical vocals, but the extra metal in his voice adds to the album's ability to stand out.  But in the second half of the album, while things remain atmospheric and cool, it also loses some of its unique orchestra touch, relying on more of the shoegazy stuff from Biomech and going for something a little less melodic and more sci-fi and industrial at times.

So this is another pretty cool album for Devin Townsend fans, but there are some mistakes that glare a little more as the album goes along.  There are also a couple of his best songs in this album, notably in the first half, but I don't really feel the need to listen to this again.


September 04, 2023 01:05 AM

I'm gonna post this week's North album hint a day early just 'cause I feel like it.

Hint: 7-12.

That's you're hint.

September 05, 2023 08:17 PM

This weeks NORTH album:

Krallice - Years Past Matter (2012)

Genre: Atmo-Black

Votes: 1

Hint Breakdown: The tracks are listed as IIIIIII to IIIIIIIIIIII, growing in one more "I" until we get to 12 "I's."

Reason: Krallice was a favorite of mine back when I was first starting black metal, and I've been meaning to go back to this.  So it's really more of a personal choice than anything.

September 05, 2023 11:24 PM

Krallice is a consistently fine metal band with a strong sense of atmosphere.  They have a tendency to be riff heavy, and it really shows here on Years Past Matter.  At first, the album is very intricate and cool.  It makes a quick point of being a little proggy and riff heavy, and the riffs are either good or great throughout, so it's a very consistent record, especially since the atmosphere never wanes.  Unfortunately, this also means the album never changes.  So while the album always sounds cool, for fans of quirky new ideas, the album will be underwhelming.  It doesn't have that fleshed out experimental side like Ygg Huur or Prelapsarian.  And it isn't QUITE an atmo-album, but it's atmo enough to give it that touch the heavier riffage needs to attract fans of either variant.  It's more like a continuation of Diotima in the sense that it's trying out new riffs and ideas.

This album boasts basically one format of creativity for a straight hour.  So while it's a cool metal album in its own right, I can't really call this a grand new direction or standout classic for black metal.  But it is quite a cool album and it improves on Diotima in all aspects.  So I would recommend this if you're curious.


September 06, 2023 08:31 PM

This week's HORDE album:

Nile - In Their Darkened Shrines (2002)

Genres: Tech Death, Brutal Death

Votes: 2

Reason: A couple other Nile albums are in the main chart with more than five votes, but this album is one of their highly regarded classics, and it only has two votes, this this was a perfectly easy choice.

Quoted Rexorcist

You reminded me that I've been meaning to return to "In Their Darkened Shrines" for a good couple of years since revisiting "Annihilation of the Wicked" as one of our 2021 feature releases & findingit to be a genuinely classic technical death metal record. Here's my thoughts:

My initial experiences with South Carolina death metallers Nile back in the mid-90’s tape trading scene didn’t exactly set my world on fire to be honest. It wouldn’t be until Ben reintroduced me to them through their 2000 sophomore album “Black Seeds of Vengeance” upon my return to metal in 2009 that I’d start to give them much of my attention. Admittedly, I did initially find them to be a little lacking in dynamics but that perception gradually wore off as I came to grips with the sheer barbarity of Nile’s most relentlessly brutal offering. Once I was hooked, I’d quickly investigate the rest of Nile’s back catalogue of studio albums & found them to be universally enjoyable so I’ve continued to keep abreast of each subsequent Nile record over the years. Our most recent crossing of paths was when I revisited 2005’s “Annihilation of the Wicked” fourth album as one of our November 2021 feature releases which resulted in me claiming that particular record as Nile’s finest work & a genuine death metal classic. Since that time though, I’ve always wondered how it’s illustrious predecessor might compare with it as it's been many years since it last passed my unsuspecting ears. Let's find out then, shall we?

The “Black Seeds of Vengeance” album was a dense barrage of unrelenting brutality that showed a clear intent to separate itself from any form of accessibility & that approach hasn’t been abandoned for “In Their Darkened Shrines” by any means. You won’t be in any doubt as to what band you’re listening to here as the changes in Nile’s Egyptian-themed death metal model are fairly subtle but are important nonetheless. There’s a touch more technicality & angularity to Nile’s high-velocity riffage here (particularly on tracks like “Execration Text”, “Wind of Horus” & “Destruction of the Temple of the Enemies of Ra”) but not enough to warrant the almost unanimous tagging of this record as a technical death metal release in my opinion. I honestly think that many critics are tricked into that association by the technical proficiency of new drummer Tony Laureano (Acheron/Angelcorpse/Brujeria/Malevolent Creation/Nidingr) who capably fills the shoes of equally talented session skinsman Derek Roddy (Blotted Science/Divine Empire/Hate Eternal/Malevolent Creation/Today Is The Day) on what would end up being his only appearance on a Nile record. I’d actually suggest that “In Their Darkened Shrines” still sits much more comfortably under the brutal death metal tag as it spends far more time simply bludgeoning the listener into submission than it does dazzling them with technical wizardry. Regardless of that though, the most rewarding parts of the album tend to be those that benefit from an increased focus on atmospherics with the slower sections allowing for a newly invigorated level of creativity. In fact, I’d suggest that the two tracks that leave me truly devastated both fall into this category in doom/death closer “Ruins” (my personal favourite) & the ambient-infused death metal of “I Whisper In The Ear Of The Dead”, both of which better harness & enhance the lyrical themes than the relentless blastathons are capable of.

The 58-minute length of “In Their Darkened Shrines” makes it Nile’s longest release overall & I have to question the need for such indulgence given that most of the record is so savage & blast-beat driven. It seems pretty extreme to me as I find myself feeling close to exhausted once it’s all over. The need to include an 18-minute, four-part opus at the end of the tracklisting (i.e. the title track) is probably the reason for it but that piece may as well be four separate songs as you likely wouldn’t know it was a single epic if you didn’t read about it. In fact, the same can be said for the infamous Egyptian lyrical themes because they mean very little if you don’t read the lyric sheet (which I don’t). There are mild melodic links to the themes included in the instrumentation but it’s nothing too extreme so it’s very easy to simply treat “In Their Darkened Shrines” as a very solid brutal death metal record which contains no real blemishes across it’s twelve tracks.

So how does Nile’s third album compare with its highly praised “Annihilation of the Wicked” follow-up then? Well, I don’t consider it to be as classic as that particular release. It’s not as sophisticated or fully realized as its younger sibling, mainly because it spends a greater percentage of its run time simply bludgeoning the listener in as brutal a fashion as it can muster &, in doing so, misses the opportunity to better capitalize on those wonderfully effective atmospherics. It’s still a very strong death metal record though & I'd suggest that it was the best thing Nile had released to the time. I have no doubt that it’ll more than satisfy the requirements of your average Suffocation, Hate Eternal or Lykathea Aflame fan but it’s status as one of the true greats of the death metal genre is perhaps a little overstated in my opinion.


September 11, 2023 09:37 PM

Here's the hint for tomorrow's Pit album.

September 12, 2023 07:34 PM

Havok - Time Is Up (2011)

Genre: Thrash

Votes: 4

Reason: Modern thrash classic.  Enough said.

September 18, 2023 09:11 PM

Almost ran late.


Pure thrash is a thing that's been done to death, and yet we still get occasional classics because there are those that know how to bring personality and technicality to it long after we've heard all of the tricks.  One of these bands was Havok for a time, before the reviewers started taking them a lot less seriously once their third album came out.  They hadn't had a break for a while, but they made one of the modern thrash classics: Time Is Up, a rare thrash album that captures the oldschool spirit perfectly.

Immediately upon pressing the play button, there's a successful and vicious display of energy with perfectly clean production.  It recaptures the same spirit of thrash from the 80's that made the classics so damn good, and its clean production does a lot for its pure thrash sound.  There are simple but melodic jammers like "DOA" and "Prepare for Attack," complex bangers like "Scumbag in Disguise" and "Fatal Intervention," slow-burners like "Killing Tendencies" and harsh blastbeaters like "No Amnesty," so this album covers multiple sides of what thrash is capable of, and without ever breaking their single genre.  Impressive.  This album kept me on my toes throughout its run because it's so wild and independent, which is a compliment I give to so few thrash albums because so many of them are redundant.  My best examples of wild and independent thrash albums are No More Color, Rust in Peace and South of Heaven, so there's an easy way to compare this album to the classics.

Of course, there is a con that also acts like a pro, but a con more strongly: DAMN is this album stuck in the days of skater dorks and Ninja Turtles.  This is an extremely 80's-sounding album.  I mean, it's cool in the sense that it's nostalgic at least, and they pull it off like the album really did belong there, but this really just means that Havok sounds like they're very stuck in the past.  In other words: in a way we've heard this music for the last 40 years, even those of us who aren't that old.

I do recommend this for anyone who misses the glory days, because this album is all about the glory days.  Havok might not be the absolute best thrash band of the modern age, but they made one of the most fun, powerful and nostalgic albums in the metal world.  I would find myself returning to this next time I get in a thrash mood, because there are a couple songs I might even give five stars.