Angry Metal LisaToday over on Twitter I got pointed in the direction of Invisible Oranges’ (great name, btw) new post called “Are album reviews obsolete?” Here at Angry Metal Guy our “bread and butter” so-to-speak, is the album review. We do a lot of them. We average about 6 a week, and aim for 7 or more. We also enjoy doing them, but as I have previously touched on, the review is a strange thing in a strange place and, let’s face it, the music industry is screwy in kind of big ways. I thought I’d maybe add some fuel to the author’s fire by adding some more reasons as to why the review is becoming obsolete, in some ways.

First, let me say, that for us the opposite of Invisible Oranges’ starting point is true: reviews are what garner hits here and the blog posts and interviews are really just something that we do on the side when we’ve got something to get off our chests. There are a million “I really wish we’d thought up being MetalSucks first” wannabe blogs out there, we certainly don’t need another one. And while my post “On Objectivity” garnered a lot of hits, and our Best Metal Tracks of All Time lists have pulled in new viewers, really the content trail would lead me to believe that the content to produce is reviews. But reviews have a shelf life, unlike a lot of blog posts. They simply don’t perform well over the long haul.

Reviews, however, seem to be considered pretty widely as bullshit. This, I understand. I have previously written about the fact that the reviewer’s position in the modern system is one of continual ass-kissing. It’s even worse with interviews. Everyone wants you to do interviews with bands. But not only are interviews a waste of time, but you’re pretty much just expected to be sycophantic. And if you are sycophantic you gain. When I recently heaped praise on the new The Black Dahlia Murder record, it was posted on the band’s Facebook, which landed us thousands of views in a matter of hours. On the other hand, my review of the new Amorphis record got very few comparatively. Why is this? Because Amorphis, obviously, didn’t post negative or lukewarm reviews on their website.

What is the lesson of this? Kiss ass. Unless you unleash a righteous ass-whupping and the band or its fans get pissed enough to flock to your website, anything that you say that is not blowing sunshine up the ass of the industry will get you ignored. And there are stories of zines who have been basically pressured by labels and bands when they give them bad reviews. K. Philipson (who runs Global Domination and has a couple bands) actually got harassed by Nightwish after gave them a shitty review for Once. They basically wrote to him and said that he couldn’t write that. He wrote a “make up” review where he gave them 600/10. Another reader told me that he once made some comment in a review and was forced by the writers to apologize for the comment because it had offended the label.

In other words, unless you are willing to suck the industry’s cock, you don’t get access. Unless you are big and important enough, you don’t get access. Unless you are willing to toe the line, you don’t get access and since everyone wants success and access for their endeavors, it all pushes reviews in the direction of being big wet kisses to the industry if you ever want to get a record early or an interview with a band you really like. That the industry is self serving is not surprising, of course. It’s to be expected. But since this is the case, reviews haven’t just become useless for many of the reasons already stated (saturation, downloading, bands over music [though I have issues with this], shitty writers), but also because those shitty writers have no reason to be honest. I have seen a plethora of examples where a person obviously doesn’t like a record, but s/he gives it a 9/10 anyway. I’ve had a multitude of comments from disgruntled fans when I have given a record a 3/5 (which is according to my scale “good”). If a 3/5 is considered a death sentence for a new record… well, that reflects the inflated, bullshit that makes up reviewing. Where’s the credibility?

I strongly encourage Invisible Oranges to stop doing reviews and to send people looking for them our way over here at Angry Metal Guy (being the self-serving asshole that I am). We continue doing them because I enjoy writing and because I do think that some people get value out of them. One of the most frequent comments that I receive is “I’ve found so many great bands through your site!” And that’s the purpose reviews serve. After all these years. While, certainly, most people aren’t going to read every review that comes across their screen due to saturation levels, people will continue discovering new music and loving it because of the work of reviewers who are willing to take the time to review material from smaller, less-well-known bands and labels (as well as doing major releases, of course). And we, as reviewers, owe it to them to be honest. Because even if we’re bordering on obsolete, people are still reading and do still care. And I still think my opinion is really fucking awesome.


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  • TK

    Well, I scored the new TBDM album 2 / 5 in the local newspaper last week. I’m guessing that it won’t be posted on the bands Facebook, especially since it seems to be the only negative review of the album in existence.

  • I’ve been meaning to put up a similar article for a week now and just hadn’t been able to get around to it. But I agree whole heartedly about the dishonesty and ass grabbing that goes on in terms of reviews and the industry.

    Most of the pandering I see is from the start up websites that are just trying to whore themselves out to get pageviews.

    Reviews are my biggest draw too but I don’t do ads so it literally does not pay for me to blow sunshine and rainbows up a bands butt. I just gave the latest Draconian album a 9. I’ve never scored an album that high before because there is inherently going to be something that makes an album lose points. Yet I see perfects thrown around like confetti all the time.

    There just aren’t that many perfect albums in the world, people. When I find one I’ll let everyone know including the band so they can splash it on their Facebook. Until then the honesty continues.

  • Wise words. I actually come here because the reviews often reflect the way I am and that I listen to music; I find myself in here. I think one shall find a good reviewer and follow him as it may often reflect what will come out of the first few listenings of an album. There is no point in reading whatever the comments from whoever the potential hater; Reviews shall forever be and those who benefit from them sure hope the good writers will remain. Keep up the good work.

  • johan

    I completely agree with you on this, even though I’ve disagreed with almost as many reviews on here as I’ve agreed with, I still find a lot of bands I wouldn’t have even been aware (vintersorg, for one.) Also, if you want to see more cases like that Nightwish review, look at what happened with the game Duke Nukem Forever. A person who works for the PR company promoting the game got pretty pissed off at some scathing reviews and threatened to not give advance review copies of games to people that wouldn’t praise them, so it’s happening in more than just music. But it shows that reviews still serve a purpose, even if you don’t agree with what the review says, it still typically gives you an idea of what you’re getting into which is pretty helpful before spending fifteen dollars on a potentially shitty CD or 60 dollars on a potentially shitty game. I can, however, see where those bands or companies that make games come from, obviously spending years on a creative project can be daunting and can be pretty crushing when the thing you put all that effort on is something some random face on the internet say “THIS SOUNDS LIKE SHIT!” But they need to realize that they sometimes make bad decisions (I.e. Morbid Angel) and some people have different tastes. Good post.

  • I read the reviews on this site regularly (and no other review site I’ve encountered) because:

    * You’re not afraid to be honest and diss a shitty album, or to admit that, say, the latest Amorphis is not in fact the best thing since sliced bread.

    * They’re consistently well-written and engaging. Reviews here are usually fun and interesting enough that they’re worth a read even if I’m not necessarily interested in the album being reviewed.

    * You cover bands nobody’s heard of (apparently I’m a top listener on for the Ben Levin Group? – there’s only a handful of listeners on there), bands I haven’t heard of but should have, and bands everyone’s heard of. For all that it’s easy to listen to $BAND’s material on the internets and decide whether you like it, there’s also a RIDICULOUSLY huge amount of music out there and a recommendation for something to check out, and *why* you should check it out, is a valuable thing.

    * Related to the above, you’re not afraid to step out of the site’s metal comfort zone occasionally – see the review of Vienna Teng’s Inland Territory a while back, for example, which is a damn good album.

    The functions served for me by good reviews are a) an honest, explained recommendation from the masses of music out there and b) an interesting read in and of itself.

    Like others, I’ve found a lot of good music from this site, from Allen-Lande to Yggdrasil (sidenote: review more bands beginning with Z so that joke works better), and I enjoy being shown it.

    This has turned into something of an essay in its own right because I’m procrastinating revision, so I’m going to shut up now.

    • Björn

      This comment is almost as good as Mr. Druhm’s Hate Eternal-review.

  • nsx

    Thoroughly agreed. I questioned metal hammer on theri review scores (the new Children of Bodom) via the comments on their website. They had the audicity to screen, and not print my views.

    Needless to say i have not been back since.

    Metal is freedom of speech personified.

  • I don’t believe the review is dead. There will always be a space for art critiscm. Just because cynical kids and online hipsters believe they are above professional critiscm doesn’t mean they are right. I only found this site a few months ago but the reviews have helped me find so much new music to enjoy. Keep the faith.

  • Brian M

    Love this site. Love your reviews, even if I don’t always agree (New Altar of Plagues is teh AWESOME, LOL) I always check here and Chronicles of Chaos first. (I love Number of the Blog, but it is too talky and too colorful sometimes)

  • Well then maybe labels should stop signing shitty bands if reviews of their products offend them. I know lots of good poor bands that deserve those record deals more. I enjoy reading your reviews before I buy an album because you generally have good taste aside from being a huge power metal fag. I apologize for that comment. No I don’t.

  • zolos

    very interesting topic, skipped through the original posting and your own, and i’ll say this before i go off to bed:
    I.O. is 100% correct on describing the things that make 95% of reviews boring and/or useless for me
    luckily your site’s reviews fall in the 5% that :
    1. are VERY Well written and interesting
    2. are not kiss ass and “angry” (TM)
    3. have trustworthy scores: because i have a similar taste in music, whenever i listened to a record you recommended from a band unknown to me, i was not disappointed.
    you sirs, WIN!
    (i’ll read both posts again in detail tomorrow)

  • Steel Druhm

    LOL @ power metal fag….

  • Nyarlathotep

    Obsolescence, that’s a two dollar word AMG. This site is great, you guys are always right except when you disagree with me ;)

  • The Metal Pig

    People will soon discover a bad reviewer when they listen to what he/she has reviewed and realise it’s no good, or not their musical taste. The trick is finding a reviewer who gives honest reviews and has similar musical tastes…and when you find a reviewer like this, they are worth their weight in gold, because you discover new bands! Therefore review are still relevant and useful, but because the internet allows every man and his dog a voice, you end up wading through a lot of shit for the gold nugget! Pun intended.

  • Great blog!!! I enjoy doing album reviews(and also making the much love/hated metal lists) for my own personal pleasure, if someone else enjoys them cool, if not, cool, it’s my spare time, I can do what the fuck I want.
    Are album reviews obsolete, I don’t think so. There are lots of people looking at album reviews, some want an honest unbiased opinion from a blogger who isn’t influenced by a magazine or what not, or someone just enjoys reading them and seeing other peoples opinions on something. The most consistent search hit for my blog is someone looking for a review by so and so, so seeing that I’m sure that there is a market for it.
    I’ve read some good reviews on an album I didn’t like and the reviewer was able to point out something I may have missed listening to the album, and visa versa.
    And keep up the great work here on AMG, this has become my favorite place to learn about some new metal bands and hear some well based opinions on the ones I already know and enjoy. Rock on AMG, Steel Druhm, and Co.

  • Andrew Hamblin

    I come here only for the reviews.  And not because I agree with you assessments, because more than half the time I don’t, but because it seems a lot of sites just don’t review many albums.  MetalSucks mostly just reviews the navel-gazing, post-hardcore noise bands they seem to be personal friends with.  Other sites seem to parrot what other reviewers said about an album, as though the metal blogosphere decides to like or not like an album as a whole, lest one of them be found out to be less tr00 than the others. 

    If you want to buy an expensive piece of electronics, you go and read reviews to make an informed decision.  But if you just steal your music online, who cares?   Just download it in all its 320 kpbs glory and see if you like it.  But I don’t steal music online, so to go out on a limb on an album I haven’t heard I want to get some idea about what to expect first.

    So keep it up, sonsabitches.

  • Hey man, I’m really glad that you dug the new Orphaned Land as much as I did! m/ Also, I think it’s fucking awesome that you’re a Turkish metalhead. And while I try to write my reviews on stone, it’s difficult to transfer them to the Internet afterward. *sigh*

    • OzanCan

      Thanks man, and I am glad I have found your blog. Keep up the good work! m/
      PS: have you tried scanning the stones? XD hahahaha

  • Once again spot on, similar things are on my mind! Right now we’re joking with my contributor about a certain label that doesn’t answer the mails I’m sending them. The reason seems to be a couple of reviews we’ve posted on their releases that scored low points. Either this or they’ve started their Summer holidays already… Well, if the label can’t deal with some criticism and expects only good reviews – good riddance to them! The reviews are still important and relevant in this day, plus I still have fun doing them.

  • Zadion

    Fully agree with this, I do. And that’s exactly why your blog is the only one I read. Because you guys are honest. Unlike other sites that give damn near every album an 8/9/10, I come to your reviews and expect (sometimes brutal) honesty. You point out what’s good and what’s bad in a record, and I can make my decision if I’ll find it enjoyable based on those facts. It’s far harder to do this with many other review sites that inflate their opinions. And indeed, I’ve found many artists on here that I’d never have heard of otherwise simply from your reviews. Kudos man.
    BTW, Once is a pretty damn fine record if you ask me.

    • I like four or five tracks on Once, and to be honest it’s the only Nightwish that ever did anything for me.

  • Zachary Perv

    This really is my most frequented destination on the internet. I just want to take a moment to add my thanks along with everybody else for the quality of writing on this site.

    So are reviews obsolete? psssh……I don’t have a lot of free time to sort through all this music, past and present. And there really is just so much goddamned music out there! I was blown away the first time I went to Metal Archives and clicked on the letter “A” and there were like a million bands beginning just with that letter! So it’s great to have some people sorting through everything to kind of give me some direction when I  do have some time to look for new music

    And your guys’ best song lists were great too. I enjoy just as much looking up great old music as I do listening to new releases. You should definitely have these lists displayed, along with your “Top Records of the Year” articles, in a more prominent place than in a stupid tag on the side of the page. They would be great resources for future readers who are interested in seeing what the past has to offer

    • Glad to hear it. Yeah, I think we try to get a sense for what’s coming out and stick with it. It helps. I feel a bit bad because we’re not always as good at getting lots of lesser known bands through, where doing that might benefit readers like yourself.

      To be honest, I was a lot like you when I started this blog. I’ve encountered a ton of shit that’s been around and I’d never even heard of when I *started* writing the blog. Fortunately this has been a great educational experience. ;)

  • Dude just wanted to say I’ve been reading every single one of your posts for the past 4 months or so and the only reason I keep reading is that you give negative reviews. And you’re always right about the records (almost). Poser blogs are pretty obvious and that’s why I keep on coming back here. There’s a couple other sites I go to but none on a regular basis like AMG. And who gives a shit about all the scene kids who only read the reviews they like anyway? You want real readers and through your hard non-selling-out wok you’re getting them. Keep it up!

  • Something about your reviews always strikes true. You have this sense of brutal honesty when talking about music that’s far too rare and valuable to be skimmed or glanced over. Whenever I agree with you, it is a total agreement. Whenever I disagree with you, I look back at what you reviewed and go, ‘Oh… the son of a bitch is right. Again!’ and fist-shaking ensues.

    Needless to say, labels and artists just need to get used to constructive criticism. Sure, it may be insulting at first, and one may want to fall into the fetal position and cry oneself to sleep every night because of a bad review – but as a whole, this human race of ours needs to learn to take it better. Otherwise we just have piles of shit without any artistic and mental growth.

    Furthermore, I would like to add that every commenter here (myself included) has probably inflated Angry Metal Guy’s ego tenfold. Ah, well – he deserves it. Thank you very much for doing it right!

  • Vlad Invictus

    Excellent text, AMG! You nailed it to the core. As a musician I always thought that reviews are nothing more but a subjective view of reviewer and “de gustibus non est disputandum”. Of course, we got over the years some good, some lukewarm and some shitty reviews, and for some reason I care for all of them. Of course, shitty reviews bug me sometimes, but I respect them. It’s after all someone’s opinion which must be tolerated and that person took his/her free time to spin 40 or more minutes to listen to your material. I am one of those who puts every review on my page (please, do a review for my album! :D).
    What really bugs me are those so-called reviewers who write few sentences, after which you have a feeling that album hasn’t been listened at all, or those big bands whose every next album is praised like a masterpiece. I don’t think that reviewer’s opinion makes an impact which could influence everyone who reads it. I disagreed with lots of your reviews, but I read them all the time, because of your honesty in writing, which is a rare thing these days.
    Respect! m/

    • I appreciate that. And I have no idea what your record is, but unless it’s coming out soon, we probably aren’t going to review it. :P

      • Vlad Invictus

        It’s already out, but you gotta admit I made a decent try. :P

  • Your blog has been my main source of music discovery for over 2 years and a valuable one at that. I don’t always agree with your ratings, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. Please keep reviewing! I don’t know how I’ll discover new music without you.

  • MikkoKukkonen

    I hope this site never stops existing (unless it evolves to being something shitty of course)! I think I’ve said this before, but your site is the only music related one that I visit on a regular basis these days. Most of the “new” bands that I listen today, I have found reading the reviews here.

    You make it that much more enjoyable to wade through the over saturated muck of modern heavy music. Not sure if it’s a compliment to you or not, but this site kinda reminds me of ‘Satan stole my teddy bear’. A site that I used to read a lot way back when. So there’s some ass kissing for you, now what do I get for it huh?!