Angry Metal-Fi 300Angry Metal-Fi is a series of articles that are cross posted on Angry Metal Guy and Metal-Fi as a collaborative effort to evangelize dynamics in metal.

Written By: Alex-Fi

2014 was an interesting one with respect to fidelity. I of course reviewed a number of abysmal sounding records due to Loudness War engineering practices, but I also had the pleasure of listening to some killer sounding records too. And even though I thought this year was by no means a break out for dynamics, I definitely see a trend of artists considering more than volume when they enter the studio. Time will only tell.

In any event, I would like to formally debut our “Best and Worst Sounding Records” of the year list as a new Angry Metal-Fi staple. And since year end lists have to come in units of ten (don’t hate the player, hate the game), this list is going to name the top five best and worst sounding records of the year.

Now listen, I’m quite aware of the fact that if you don’t like an album musically, a high DR score isn’t really going to sway your overall opinion of it, nor does it automatically mean the record sounds sublime. Conversely, if you’ve had one particular record on heavy rotation throughout the year, then obviously its brickwalled master isn’t preventing you from enjoying it either. That’s why DR scores were left off this list intentionally, since it’s not the score that makes or breaks a record, but its sound. Ok, enough talk, let’s get to it. Drum roll, please.

The Best

Opeth - Pale Communion

Opeth // Pale Communion – One of my main gripes with Angry Metal Guy’s awesome review of Pale Communion was his glib comment about its production. He equated it to “…just icing on the cake.” Uh, more like winning the lottery if you ask me. [I keep telling you, you need to get out more. Seriously.Dave] What I found most impressive about Pale Communion is that it’s so tonally balanced, no one sounds out of place yet everyone in the band is clearly and accurately accounted for. Couple that with Paschal Byrne’s wonderful master, which doesn’t muck with Wilson’s already incredible mix and this album epitomizes great production. Whether you’re a fan of Opeth‘s new musical direction or not is frankly immaterial to the discussion at hand, since no matter how hard you try to deny it, they have never sounded this good. Period.

Horrendous Ecdysis 01

Horrendous // Ecdysis – When Damien Herring of Horrendous emailed me about what his production plans were for the band’s yet to be titled sophomore release, he set my expectations extremely high. Thankfully, he delivered in spades. But don’t take my word for it. Many people have noticed how killer Ecdysis sounds, including AMG staffer L. Sauder in his fantastic review. But I actually think Ecdysis was summed up quite nicely by a fan, Chris Cox, off of the record’s Bandcamp page, Against a backdrop of over-produced and comically extreme death metal, Horrendous stand out as an authentic, powerful, and talented act. They emphasize songwriting and masterful production over speed and loudness, and the result is a record with real depth—conceptually, emotionally, and aurally. This is top-shelf death metal, and an album I keep coming back to. Couldn’t have said it better myself Chris!

Nightingale Retribution 01

Nightingale // Retribution – While the Century Media mandated mix is solid despite industry standard compression levels, as with last year’s Witherscape release, Dan has again included a digital version of the fully dynamic vinyl mix on the CD. And Dan “The Man” Swanö spared absolutely no expense (or frequency range) in articulating Retribution’s artistic vision. This ’80s inspired goth rock beast simply sounds superb in vinyl mix form, with gobs of tastefully infused synth coupled with a gorgeous melodious sheen. If you are looking for a record to just rock out to, this is the one.

While Heaven Wept - Suspended At Aphelion

While Heaven Wept // Suspended at Aphelion – Steel Druhm said it best in his exhaustive review of While Heaven Wept‘s latest, “The sound is phenomenal, with a clear intent to deliver a rich dynamic experience with real peaks and valleys. Founder Tom Phillips remarked that he was well aware of the ‘Loudness War’ prevalent in music these days and wanted to deliver an album audiophiles could get behind. Mission accomplished, Tom.” Mission accomplished, indeed. Keep in mind that before this release, While Heaven Wept records were just more victims of the Loudness War. But not on Suspended at Aphelion, as Philips has completely embraced a minimalist approach when it comes to compression and brickwall limiting on this record. Now their dense orchestration and large scale compositions have room to breathe, resulting in a record that just sounds and feels that much more alive. Definitely one of this year’s best sounding releases.

Omit Medusa Truth 01

Omit // Medusa’s Truth Part I – This choice I suspect might be more controversial among AMG staffers and readers alike, but Dave and I both stand by it. In Noctus‘ in-depth review of Omit‘s Medusa Truth Part I, he both lauds and criticizes some of the production choices made on the band’s second full length outing. But I submit that most of Noctus‘ criticism were really aesthetic disagreements with Tom Simonsen’s mix rather than actual technical deficiencies in the recording itself. The fact is this album sounds incredible, and to my ears, it was clearly Tom’s intention to not bring the guitars to the fore in an effort to both highlight Cecilie Langlie’s brilliant vocal performance as well as maintain a certain melodious subtly throughout. Regardless, this record absolutely deserves your undivided attention, and if Noctus‘ great review didn’t convince you to listen to it, hopefully adding it to this list will motivate you to give it a spin.

The Worst

Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Fallujah // The Flesh Prevails  – Before you ask, no, I don’t have a vendetta against this record. But the fact is this record sounds like crap – plain and simple. Look, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck…you get the picture. I encourage you to read all of AMG’s reviews of The Flesh Prevails, both the standard master one as well as the higher DR10 one too. Pay particular attention to the comments section where a lot of excellent discussion took place between staffers, fans, and the band’s engineer Zach Ohren. Yet with all that has been said at this point, the truth is even with Zack graciously offering a higher dynamic master to AMG staffers, I contend this record was ruined the day he and the band mixed it. The only bright side of this whole affair is hopefully the band and Zach will take the criticism they received to heart and re-evaluate their production goals the next time around.

Allegaeon Elements of the Infinite 01

Allegaeon // Elements of the Infinite – Allegaeon‘s Elements of the Infinite is one of those records that makes me literately cry. This is bar none the best Allegaeon record to date, and its success on the Billboard charts [What is this “Billboard” you speak of? – Dave] is a testament to that fact. But you know what else is a fact? This record sounds so compressed you don’t even need to see the DR score to figure out what Infinite’s production is all about. To tell you the truth, around track four is where I start to get a headache because of how badly this record is bricked. What’s even worse, because of Infinite’s obvious commercial success, I suspect the next one will sound just as bad. It’s a darn shame too because this album could be so much more with just a few points of dynamics added to the mix. C’est la vie.

Anaal_Nathrakh_Desideratum 01

Anaal Nathrakh // Desideratum – At this point, my expectations are set so low when a new Anaal Nathrakh record comes out, it’s almost not fair to put Desideratum on this list to begin with. Look, I fully accept that Hunt and Kenney are professional provocateurs, whose aural medium consists of black, industrial, grind, and everything in between as Grymm outlined in his most excellent review. I get that. Yet when all your songs are Skrillex loud, the level of depth each song can convey diminishes substantially. And once you get past Desideratum’s initial shock value, the whole record comes off as just one homogenous wall of noise, where every track bleeds into the next to the point where they all become one big blur. It’s a darn shame too, since both of these gentlemen are clearly very talented, but they’ve got to understand that volume only carries weight when it used effectively, not splattered all over just for loudness sake. Until then, these guys are doing what everyone else is doing, which isn’t very shocking at all.

inso_cover32cmx32cmCMYKprintuse

Insomnium // Shadows of the Dying Sun – If there was just one record this year that is an absolute poster child for the Loudness War, it’s this one. Shadow‘s mix and master makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. None. Yes, they play melodic death metal, but as Steel mentioned in his review, this album clearly relies more heavily on its gothic, melodic elements than its death ones. Yet the master sounds more akin to the Anaal Nathrakh release above it, with most tracks sounding washed out and lifeless. I suspect though that if these gentlemen actually bumped up the level of dynamics by a few points, not only would Shadows sound an order of magnitude better, but Steel‘s review might also come up by at least half a point too. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Devin Townsend Z2 01

The Devin Townsend Project // Z2 – It is with a heavy heart that I have to put this album on this list (or at least on this half of it), both as someone who absolutely adores anything Devin Townsend touches and who has had the pleasure of meeting the man in person on several occasions. But unfortunately, here we are. When Fisting Andrew Golota gave Z2 a shellacking in his review, what he didn’t know is that the promo he was digesting doesn’t even remotely sound like the final CDs. Why? Well, it seems there were a few discrepancies in the mix late in the game and as a result, HevyDevy took it upon himself to compress the living daylights out of it. The net result is Z2 sounds terrible compared to the highly dynamic promo that went out for review. You’re right, this isn’t even close to the worse sounding record of the year, but Z2 serves as a bittersweet reminder of just how much sway the Loudness War has on artists even established entities like Devin Townsend. Obviously, it’s his music, which means it’s his prerogative to compress this record into oblivion, but I truly believe years from now HevyDevy will look back at this decision with a lot of regret.

In the end, the main impetus behind a subjective list like this is really to get you in the habit of critically listening to metal. You may agree or agree to disagree with our assessments above, but if you critically listen to just one of the records on this list, it served its purpose well. Happy New Year!

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  • Oh man! Opeth on this list. My fanboy status will forever be cemented. Thanks guys. :'(

    • Wait a minute, I remember an angry fellow who reviewed and slammed another, similar sounding Opeth record not so long ago! LOL!

      • I feel like I should defend my glibness btw, but let’s wait until my list runs tomorrow for that discussion.

  • spheric666

    The Fallujah album is probably the best album I listened to the least, this year. Care to guess why?
    God what a fucked up job they did.

    • That’s a great way to put it. It kept sliding down my list because I can’t listen to it.

    • tomasjacobi

      Yeah, I hardly ever listen to it for the same reason. I put on the vinyl from time to time and it sounds better, but the digital version wears out my ears…

      • Pacal

        The vinyl sounds pretty good to my ears.

        • tomasjacobi

          Agree, but it’s a shame when the vinyl is the ONLY listenable option. As much as I love my vinyl LPs, most of the time I’m NOT sitting at home in my living room and in those cases I rely on a listenable digital version.

          • Pacal

            It is a shame, but it does help justify my turntable purchase.

    • Kryopsis

      It sounds okay on my ATH-A700X connected to a mid-range Xonar but that’s about it. It’s not an album I can take out with me.

  • Garak

    It’s times like this I’m scared to learn more about compression and dynamic range and high audio quality, because I love Elements of the Infinite and would absolutely hate to lose that.

    • Kryopsis

      I assure you that the knowledge will not take away from the enjoyment of the albums. I happen to love both of these despite being quite aware of the production mishaps. We’re not talking about blind audiophilia and sound worship but rather the application of certain theories to great music we all like.

      • Garak

        But right now I can love without reservation! It’s like finding out your fiance murdered a man in the distant past. “I’m a changed woman,” she says, but suddenly you can’t love without reservation because there is that blot, that dark spot.

    • I love Elements too. I wasn’t kidding when i said it breaks my heart because it does.

    • Dave

      Of course we don’t want to take away anyone’s enjoyment of the music they love. The best thing you can do is contact Allegaeon, and let them know that you want their next record to be dynamic.

      Tom from While Heaven Wept has been very open in talking about why their previous albums were as loud as they were, it was simply because they thought their albums should be comparably loud to the other albums they were listening to at the time – they didn’t know any better. Their fans let them know that they wanted more dynamics and better sound, and While Heaven Wept absolutely delivered in spades, even on a big record label, which is not an easy thing to do.

      If enough people do the same with Allegaeon, things may change. They may even go back and make Elements better with a dynamic remastering (assuming the album was bricked at the mastering stage and at the mix). It happened with Be’lakor, and the results are breathtaking.

  • Vicente Urrutia

    You also missed Cavalera Conspiracy’s Pandemonium… I don’t know what the fuck they were aiming to with the mixing and production… it sounds terrible!. Not even their previous CC album which was recorded in 2 days sounded this awful!

    • Dave

      Oh believe me, there were SO many albums that could’ve ended up on the shit list. It was very hard to narrow it down to just 5, and we had to toss out plenty that were more than deserving.

  • tomasjacobi

    Ahh Insomnium. “Across the Dark” was the first time I really noticed the effects of over compression. At that time I had no idea what dynamic range or the loudness war was, so when my iTunes copy sounded really bad (especially the drums and cymbals) I naturally assumed it was the lossy AAC format that was the culprit. So I went out and bought the CD, but lo and behold, it sounded exactly the same. It was a mystery to me until years later when I read something about brickwalling and DR compression (probably on Metal-Fi)

    • Dave

      This is exactly what “HD” music stores like Pono are trying to sell you – your music sounds bad, it’s because MP3!!!! Buy high-res from us and the sound will be incredible!!!! None of this is true. Given identical mixing and mastering, the iTunes or Amazon MP3 version and the Pono HD version will sound pretty much identical.

      • Tarbash

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDZcz-V29_M&t=11m40s

        It’s an all-around frustrating video, especially with producers such as Rick Rubin speaking on the degradation of audio quality, but 11:40 is at the heart of the problem, confusion, and frustration. The video is genuinely sickening.

      • tomasjacobi

        And then everybody has to get more storage space to accommodate the giant 24-96 FLAC files of the latest DR3 Metallica release!

    • nunka

      I can’t recall which record it was specifically, but a few years ago I had a similar experience with Insomnium. I had no idea what that static-y, compressed awfulness was at the time, but it really pissed me off. And it continues to piss me off. :(

  • Kryopsis

    Just last week I was checking Metal-Fi and wondering when we’ll see the next installment of Angry Metal-Fi here on AMG. Welcome back Alex! Reading the comments under the review for Behemoth’s ‘The Satanist’ made me realize that a number of people fail to understand the difference between an album’s production and pure sound quality. Basically I’m really looking forward to these contributions. Would it be possible to have one about audio equipment for critical listening? I asked AMG about it recently and I’m sure the contributors of this fine site are itching to show off their Schiit (see what I did there?)

    On a different topic, it is very unfortunate that all of the albums I enjoyed the most this year (minus Z2) happen to be in the ‘Worst’ category of this very post. I already expressed my blind devotion to ‘The Flesh Prevails’ but ‘Elements of the Infinite’ and ‘Desideratum’ and even ‘Shadows of the Dying Sun’ are albums that never leave my playlist. It’s not that the production affects my enjoyment of the creative genius and stellar performance by Fallujah, Allegaeon , Anaal Nathrakh and Insomnium (sorry AMG) but they are certainly held back by antiquated and irrational production ideologies. I remember Zach Ohren saying that the band wanted this particular sound for the drums and yes, the bass drum sounds reasonably punchy. Unfortunately the cymbals sound like a rusted Slinky going down the stairs.

    • Thanks K!

      Again, none of the above records are in my opinion unlistenable minus that Fallujah record. It is legitimately hard for me to listen to it and I think the band’s production choices are again, dubious at best.

      A note about the worst selections:

      These records are ones that loyal AMG readers and staffers are familiar with, which also means we can all better participate in a conversation about their production (good or bad). Moreover, as I said, this list is sans DR scores, because at the end of the day, it’s all about how a particular album sounds versus a numerical score. These records all sound compressed regardless of whether you measure their dynamic range. Period.

      Frankly, the Insomnium record is by no means unlistenable, neither is the Allegaeon one for that matter, but I strongly feel the production choices made really hurt the records ability to convey the source material. That Insomnium record…yeesh…

      • Dave

        I say Allegaeon and Z2 are unlistenable. Insomnium records have always been lousy, so you expect that from them. The first two Allegaeon records were perfectly serviceable though, which is what makes their latest so criminal. WTF happened?

  • PropsToOrpheus

    Wow, how exciting to be quoted! I am glad you liked my description of Ecdysis from Bandcamp. You and AMG et al. constantly expand my musical pallet and guide my ears to great sounding metal. Cheers, and happy new year!

    • Chris, you made it easier for me so thank you!

  • Retribution and Pale Communion are really a great alternative and a breath of fresh air to someone who’s borderline sick-to-death of the current state of redundant extreme bands. The sound quality of both releases only makes it that much better.

  • manimal

    So after reading this I went to read AMG’s re-review of the Fallujah album, and Mr Ohren’s subsequent comments.

    The following statement I find quite interesting, regarding a comparison of a specific album track’s dynamic-vs-pancacked master:

    “In the “DR10″ version it’s got improvements in clarity I guess but none of that was intended and frankly kind of detracts from the vision slightly of what this was supposed to be. The drums end up too loud since they were mixed with the intention of crushing them a bit and the music isn’t as glued as it was intended.”

    From the wikipedia article on this album I see that Mr Ohren was heavily involved in every stage of this record’s creation. No credit to a specific producer, so I’m going to guess co-produced by the band and Mr Ohren himself. That leaves him in the roles of tracking, mixing and mastering engineer.

    I think this serves to illustrate a number of very common problems in the era of accessible digital recordings.

    To keep things brief, the following:

    1. If you do this professionally, don’t master your own mixes. It’s like moderating you own exam paper. While I might be wrong, it sounds like Mr Ohren did “mixing-into-mastering”, meaning he mixed into a limiter.

    This is, generally speaking, a crap idea.

    Because: pancaking your mix becomes part of your creative process. If you handed a dedicated mastering engineer a mix that wasn’t already loud as f–k, and that was ALREADY BALANCED, he would have handed you a finished product that was less loud, more dynamic, BUT STILL included your creative decisions that you chose to put off to the mastering phase.

    Which brings me to #2:

    2. Producers are responsible for delivering a coherent creative vision captured to tape or hard disk to a mixing engineer, who may or may not be the same person.

    If the mix needed more “glue”, as mr Ohren states, then the glue should have been applied much earlier in the creative process. If you need your drums more crushed in the end product, make the creative decision when it’s called for – while you’re busy PRODUCING your record. Why rely on a brickwall limiter right at the end of the process to impart a creative effect if you could have obtained the same effect by strapping a compressor across the drum bus during the tracking or even mixing phase?

    3. No, that wasn’t a rethorical question. The answer is, “because dude we don’t want to commit to sounds right from the start.” In production-speak, this means recording triggers for your drums and DI’s for your guitars and bass for reamping. If you want a record that doesn’t sound like generic humanure, capture your musicians’ performances, WHILE THEY’RE BUSY INTERACTING WITH THEIR INSTRUMENTS.

    4. I’m willing to bet that a lot of what I’ve said is applicable to a fair amount of the albums on the worst-sound list.

    5. The following definitions provide a great summary:

    Tracking phase: Also known as fix it in the mix.

    Mixing phase: Also known as fix it in the master.

    Mastering phase: Also known as fix it in the marketing.

    That would be all. I hope I have offended only people who still fully intend on mastering their own mixes, or those who don’t want to commit to a creative vision during tracking.

    • Daniel

      Great reply. Basically you can actually write strong material (nobody is going to say The Nocturnal Silence or None So Vile are shit due to their mastering jobs), know what you want, and research what to do to record that material you wrote the way you want it to sound before you even start tracking your record. Then track it extremely well so that no matter how undermixed and poorly mastered it is, it still sounds compelling. That’s what Dead Congregation did.

      • manimal

        Thank you, and yes, exactly. If a producer and the recordist did his/her/their job(s), the mixing engineer should be able to put all the faders at unity gain, and it would already sound more or less like a record. Ideally the mixing engineer would known what’s expected of him, based on prior conversations, but the gist of it should be there.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    I can’t be the only person out there that thinks the Horrendous album sounds horrendous? I am even trying to listen to it as I type this. The majority of the songs sound to me like I am listening to them while sitting in a helicopter (fwhomph,fwhomph,fwhomph,fwhomph!) The reverbed vocals also make me a bit queasy. I will admit “The Vermillion” IS a beautiful sounding instrumental. I need to go take some Aleve.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Stop fighting it FBS, give in to that Horrendous feeling.

    • You know what’s funny: Because of this post, I got into my vehicle and zonked on Horrendous via Spotify/Bluetooth audio. Turned to track two, rocked out a bit, and realized my door was reverberating due to the bass slam. Then played the new Allegaeon record. Not so much.

      Try level matching both via iTunes/SoundCheck and see how it goes?

      • Angel R. Suarez

        I had the same issue. That bass can get wonky.

      • FutureBeyondSatan

        Thanks Alex. I have spent the last hour listening to the album again adjusting the Sound Check, Level Enhancers, Equalizer, etc. Turns out I had to kill my Pre Amp and cut my sub in half. I can listen to it now, but still don’t understand the hype.
        Thanks for the Nightingale tip, also. Much appreciated.

        • Hey no problem. Glad you went through the exercise though!

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    The first thing I did when I got Pale Communion was put it in the home stereo. Every unfair dismissal of the band’s music sounding flat after hearing the tracks on YouTube (I may have said something about that in the AMG review) was instantly quashed. It really is one of the most perfect sounding albums I’ve heard in a long time. It really mesmerized me – Akerfeldt and co. had got it so right this time. What I loved most of all was the thick, warm bass guitar sound and the crisp drums. It was done so well that I payed little attention to the guitars (very,very different from the rest of their discography).

    It’s still scorned by many, but I don’t care – it’s my favourite album of the year, and amongst Opeth’s best.

  • flashgordon

    I just can’t stand the new Machine Head…

  • Thatguy

    Oh, dear…..more Fallujah hate – it’s a great album and to my poor old ears shot as they are from years of listening to and playing loud music it sounds great

    It’s metal guys

    • So is Horrendous, and yet somehow that one doesn’t give me a headache.

      • Thatguy

        I agree with FBS about the Horrendous album!
        Just listened again to ‘Sapphire – what a great song – I can hear the drums – bass, snare and cymbals, I can hear the guitars and plenty of bass, I can hear the roaring voice, I can hear the bass doubling the outro riff two octaves down – what’s not to love – no headaches here

        • nunka

          If you listen verrrrrry closely, you might also be able to hear the sound of your fingers desperately scrambling for the volume knob to save your ears from utter destruction when Fallujah pops up on your shuffled playlist.

      • Daniel

        They made two nu songs (Nepenthe and Weeking Relic) from one old song (Carcass’s Heartwork). I don’t approve of such behavior. The drums do sound punchy though.

    • Dave

      South Of Heaven and World Painted Blood are both metal. One of them, particularly on vinyl, is one of the best sounding metal records in recorded history. The other sounds like hot garbage. Sound matters, even with metal.

  • Luke_22

    Pale Communion is indeed an incredible sounding album. It also helps being attached to coherent and memorable songs. I absolutely loved Ecdysis from both a songwriting and production viewpoint and despite the brickwalling I still greatly enjoyed Desideratum, but it would be nice if they changed-up their recording techniques for next album (though considering their track record that’s probably not going to happen).

  • It’s a bit disheartening to see so many really promising releases ruined by the loudness wars. Still, there is hope in the horizon.

    • Dave

      Indeed there is. It’s very easy to get discouraged by the number of hyper loud big ticket releases this past year, but the amount of metal albums released in 2014 with DR8+ dynamics was very surprising and encouraging. There may yet be light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Luke_22

    On a side note there’s some damn fine artwork in this feature.

  • Godless Machine

    What a shame. My two favorite discs this year, Allegaeon’s and Insomnium’s, are both really irritating but I love them regardless. What could have been…

    And I can’t even tell if Fallujah’s disc is any good at all since I can’t make it through a third of the album without shutting it off. The Loudness Wars were never really a thing to me until I picked this one up and wondered wtf was wrong with it.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    The Angry Metal Fi collaboration project has been a real highlight this year. Keep fighting the good fight!
    ’Suspended at…’ has really grown on me, I’ve found myself putting it on more regularly over the last couple of months and including it on drive playlists. I doubt I would have stuck with it if it didn’t have the excellent production values it does. Hats of to those guys for consciously setting out to make a good sounding record.
    I will be very interested to see how Fallujah approach their next record, Personally I think Flesh Prevails is an album that is conceptually brilliant with some of the best song writing your likely to hear on a DM record. if they let their music breathe a bit they would more succesfully achieve the sonic intensity they’re after while making the atmospherics more rich and subtle.

  • Wilhelm

    Bloodbath could have gone down in the worst; nothing like death metal that sounds so gentle on the ears to completely ruin the atmosphere, especially the horribly compressed drum sound – what were they thinking? and how about the new Obituary? it sounds like a pop album compared to their old stuff. The Horrendous, Morbus Chron, Nightfell and Domains albums, however, were all very good sounding Death Metal releases, it’s nice to see at least some people are paying attention to sonic quality.

  • Tarbash

    Fantastic concept and very reasonable list. Would’ve liked to see Gazpacho’s Demon on it, but the others hold up very well. I’m certainly more inclined to listen to music I can enjoy for extended periods of time, and good production has often encouraged me to give new artists and genres a try. This list is a great idea and makes me love this website even more. Thank you for putting it together.

  • Didn’t realise Dan Swano had a new record out. Have just listened to it via Google Play – fantastic. As ever, another year discovering great music on AMG.

    Agree about the Opeth record, beautiful sounding, with so much space for each member of the band.

  • brutal_sushi

    I have no issues listening to the new Devy over and over…

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Is it just me, or has Omit’s title ‘font’ been designed to resemble Opeth just a little too much? To the point where you might think they’re planning on people purchasing it by mistake?
    Teetering on the edge of completely writing this band off as devious wannabes, I can only imagine that the same lack of orginaility is happing in the music.

    • Dave

      According to the Repose album booklet, Omit’s logo was created by photographer Kjell Ivar Lund in 2011, so take it up with him. Omit’s music is synth driven not quite funeral doom with somber operatic vocals. It would’ve been VERY easy for them to completely rip off Draconian or Within Temptation or Epica or other VERY well worn metal styles, their vocalist clearly has the chops for that, but they haven’t. You really shouldn’t write them off without at least giving this album a try, it’s one of my favorites of the year.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        When I first saw this page I had a millisecond of what’s this Opeth record…
        Surely somebody must have realised that their logo is almost identical to the classic logo of one of the biggest and most influential contemporary metal bands.
        Maybe I’m being unreasonable but something really bothers me about that.
        Music does sound good tho…

  • Daniel

    Fallujah made ZOM’s Flesh Assimilation sound like an audiophile recording.

  • Jm from nj

    As someone who has never been an audiophile, but definitely can hear differences in quality, this entire conversation is making me question how much of the music that I do listen to, actually sounds worse than it was intended to. It makes me sad.

  • Robert Turnbull

    Discussed the loudness war with my wife earlier and showed her a few tracks from these albums (without telling her which was which). She actually picked out the drums of Fallujah as sounding like ‘One giant fart’ :D

  • Thatguy

    But to call the album – as is – unlistenable and/or headache inducing as many here are doing – good old AMG in particular -negates any rational discussion of the musical merit

    And your last comment is misdirected – I wasn’t claiming some sort of a priori purity of the ‘metalness’ of the album – simply that the album sounds like metal, not a string quartet and that’s OK by me

    And as I said in my later comment – the musical content of the album is clear to me on my listening…..

    • Kryopsis

      I certainly don’t disagree with you that calling an album ‘unlistenable’ negates rational discussion and, in my opinion, is right next to ‘this is not music’ in the list of cheap cop-outs. You have a point there.

      Honestly, I feel that the discussion of The Flesh Prevails was relatively fair so far. A lot of people have agreed that the band is talented and the material on album is indeed very good. The main (and only) criticism is the production. This has been discussed at great lengths since the album’s release but I do not think anyone used it as an excuse to outright ignore the content.

      This said, I can see why you feel it is not given its due here, especially if you like the album as much as I do. Just in case you weren’t aware, the album was re-reviewed right here on AMG and the DR10 version was shortlisted for July’s Record of the Month.

      • Thatguy

        I’m glad to see we both kind of agree – we both like the album

        I read both the original review and AMGs re-review. I really think the original was unfair and ignored the music – I decided to give the album a miss on the basis of that review – fortunately my son made me listen to ‘Sapphire’ and I bought the album after that

        The re-review was fair – AMG is a great reviewer (I do not understand his love for Gazpacho though…) but he was really reviewing versions of the album that most of us will never hear

        I do agree that egregious compression and ‘loudness’ does lots of bands no favours but as far as ‘The Flesh Prevails’ goes as I keep insisting I can hear the musical content just fine – a different mix would be a different work of art and maybe I wouldn’t like it so much…….

        • Kryopsis

          There’s a certain danger in discussing sound because people not only have widely different equipment but also hear differently themselves. Let’s just leave it at that. :)

  • Since the discussion for the review of Be’Lakor’s “Stone’s Reach” is closed, I thought I would post this here….but Bandcamp has a new vinyl remaster for this album for $8. According to the band’s website, the entire album was remixed and re-released. According to the loudness-war database, the new mix is DR11. One site commented that the new mix is “delicious”. I consider “Stone’s Reach” to be one of the best melodic death releases of the last 10 years….so I may consider getting this. Here is the link: https://belakor.bandcamp.com/album/stones-reach-vinyl-remaster-5