Angry Metal Lisa by UnknownSo, there’s been a lot of stink on this website (and other websites) about reviews that I write where I give a band a bad score. One of the most fascinating responses that I get is the one where people tell me that I am “not objective.” As an Angry Metal Guy who feels very strongly about how much I want to blow up the entire concept of postmodernism, I hate to say this because it’s a very postmodern claim, but let’s revisit an old cliche, shall we? “Art is in the eye of the beholder.”

Now I know what you’re thinking “Amaranthe isn’t art, who the fuck would call that pablum art?” but in a very strict sense of art as creative cultural output (thus porn and choose your own adventure books are also art), every shitty band that has ever existed has produced art. The question, then, becomes a question of the quality of art. But of course, quality is a very difficult thing to actually judge. Some people hate modern art, whereas other people love it. Some people can’t stand any kind of metal, whereas other people spend their entire days trying to find out about every single obscure death metal band that has ever existed so that they can prove how much better than you they are. All of these people are consuming cultural output, they all have opinions and let me ask you a question: who is right?

Well, the answer to that question as you well know is: Angry Metal Guy is right. Right? RIGHT!??!? Well, of course not. No one is right. The entire reviewing business is opinion and if you need proof of that ask yourself “How do you quantify good?” I mean, what is it? Is it talent? Every band that I have reviewed here is talented. So unless they are actually not performing their music well, is it impossible to say that a band is bad? Well, certainly no one would ever actually come out and say that. I mean, Sonic Syndicate‘s last record received horribly low scores from pretty much everyone, but did they not play their instruments well? Of course they did! So what, then? Is it composition? What are the objective standards by which we judge composition? How do you quantify composition? Is it that there is a verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, bridge, pre-chorus, chorus song structure? Is that what’s good? Actually, according to one very successful songwriter who wrote for Shania Twain (whom I despise, mind you), the exact opposite is true. A song needs to be catchy, but it also needs something that surprises you.

I’m assuming that you’re catching the drift of my argument by now: objectivity is a logical impossibility in regard to art. If we consider that objectivity is something quantifiable, testable and that we are able to really able to work with repeatedly and come up with the same results again and again, then objectivity is not possible in the subjective judgments of reviewers1. In fact, if I ask 5 people, I will get 5 different responses as to what objectivity actually is. It is a contested term.

But everyone knows this. I mean, the commenter that (finally) sparked this little rant knows this as well. Because what he means by objectivity, really, is “you don’t agree with me!” This is a strain of reasoning that I will call naive realism (Ross & Ward 1996). These two authors point out how it is that people come to this point of view that something that is really an opinion is somehow objective, right and more importantly that the person who is saying differently must be biased in their own right:

The layperson’s social understanding, we suggest, rests on three related convictions about the relation between his or her subjective experience and the nature of phenomena that give rise to that subjective experience. [These are summed up by these three rules - AMG]

1. That I see entities and events as they are in objective reality, and that my social attitudes, beliefs, preferences, priorities, and the like follow from a relatively dispassionate, unbiased and essentially “unmediated” apprehension of the information or evidence at hand.

2. That other rational social perceivers generally will share my reactions, behaviors, and opinions, provided that they have had access to the same information that gave rise to my views, and provided that they too have processed that information in a reasonably thoughtful and open-minded fashion.

3. That the failure of a given individual or group to share my views arises from one of three possible sourcesâ: (a) the individual or group in question may have been exposed to a different sample of information than I was (in which case, provided that the other party is reasonable and open minded, the sharing or pooling of information should lead us to reach agreement); (b) the individual or group in question may be lazy, irrational, or otherwise unable or unwilling to proceed in a normative fashion from objective evidence to reasonable conclusions; or (c) the individual or group in question may be biased (either in interpreting the evidence, or in proceeding from evidence to conclusions) by ideology, self-interest, or some other distorting personal influence.

The first tenet thus asserts, essentially, that I see things as they are. […] The second tenet further asserts that other rational, reasonable people […] will share both my experiences and responses (110-111).

This is fundamentally what someone is saying when they tell me that because I don’t agree with them that I am not being objective. They are essentially saying “I am in possession of the proper information, if you listened to me and were reasonable you would agree with me. You don’t agree with me, therefore, you are unreasonable.”

On its face, then, reviewing music is a scam. It’s a big pile of bullshit! So why would I (a) undermine my own ‘authority’ by writing this post and (b) do it in the first place? Those are great questions. I don’t review records to be particularly objective, I review records to give my point of view on the music that I love and consume in massive quantities. I make claims, probably even naively realistic claims (hi there everyone who think they are going to think they’re being clever by turning my discussion back on myself!), but I do them in the full knowledge that not everyone who reads my reviews is going to agree with me. And that’s the point. I have one opinion and I enjoy writing, listening to new music and turning people on to stuff that they’ve never heard before. I make a concerted effort to get to smaller releases and more obscure things (as much as time allows) because people regularly tell me that they discovered great things on this website. But even the most die hard AMG reader disagrees with me a good portion of the time. That is the nature of this beast.

And let me end with this thought: remember that it is never in my interest to write a bad review. It is always in my interest to write good reviews. You see, I don’t advertize, but were I to start, every click would be money in my pocket. Few share negative reviews, while bands and labels put their positive reviews on their Facebook pages, on Twitter and their websites, which generates huge amounts of traffic. It is, therefore, always in my interest to say that every band is fucking awesome and that this new record is the best record ever. I don’t do that because I don’t think that, and frankly, I don’t give a shit about what labels think of me. My good reviews generate traffic and my bad reviews turn people off from bands, but someone who’s interested in a band can read my bad review and disagree, or even check the band out for themselves and find that they disagree with me.

I do what I do because I love to do it. There is no such thing as ‘music journalism,’ because no one has any incentive (or ability) to be ‘objective’ about the metal industry. It’s all about access, so why would you offend people intentionally who you are relying on for access2? I can never give you an ‘objective’ point of view, and you shouldn’t read my reviews for that reason. I write reviews that are meant to be entertaining, fun to read and to give one view on what I think of a record or band. And there are so many reviewers out there who hack away at their keyboards and blow sunshine up the asses of labels and bands in order to get spots on a guest list and meet their favorite bands, that I see no reason why I shouldn’t just tell the truth of what I think. Because I don’t give a shit about that.

So to everyone out there who wants me to be ‘objective’, I present you with a challenge: you show me a way to quantifiably rate music in an objective and consistent way and I will take back my opinionated reviews and I will judge the record based only on those merits. But the only way I can think of is performances. And given the ability of musicians to actually record entire albums note by note and to tune bad vocal parts in the studio and so forth, that’s kind of out the window now, too, isn’t it? So good luck with that, I’m looking forward to the MASSES of propositions I’m going to get on the subject matter.

But until then, objectivity be damned.

References:

Chalmers, Alan F. 1999 [1976]. What Is This Thing Called Science? St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia. Open University Press.

Daston, Lorraine and Peter Galison. 1992. “The Image of Objectivity.” Representations. 40. Special Issue: Seeing Science (Autumn). 81-128. Internet Source (Need University Access).

Ross, L., Ward, A. 1996. ‘Naive Realism in Everyday Life: Implications for Social Conflict and Misunderstanding’, in E.S. Reed et al. (eds) Values and Knowledge. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrenece Erlbaum Assiociates. Internet Source (PDF file)

 

Show 2 footnotes

  1. In fact, it’s very difficult to even have a discussion about whether or not its possible to be objective in such a sense within physical sciences and/or social sciences (cf. Chalmers (1976)1999; Daston & Galison 1992). Certainly, given the rise of opinion media in the last couple of decades, people don’t believe that news holds any kind of ‘objective’ stand point.
  2. This is also an interesting question to ask regarding reporters and their access to government sources.

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  • Fábio Gerônimo

    Hail AMG! I’ve been reading your reviews since last year and, well, I didn’t like some records you considered good and like some that you said were shit (but that’s not the case of that disgusting Amaranthe XD). The fact is that if I love (and I love) Dream Theater, reading what you think about them (and I’ve read) could get me angry. So why do I don’t quit reading this shit? Because I’m a masochist? Quite silly… So, that’s why I’ll keep reading you here, from my computer in Brazil, and keep discovering awesome bands with you bastards! And, by the way, very good text, you coul write a thesis with that… hehehe

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Thanks for reading Fábio and I appreciate your honesty. And yeah, we disagree and that’s what makes it fun, right? Everyone takes it all so damn personally, it drives me kinda nuts.

      Hails to Brazil, by the way. Some great bands from there, and also I have a love/hate relationship with your national football team (just like the rest of the world). That is all.

  • Lord Doom

    With you 100% on this. Metal is probably one of the most subjectively appreciated genres on the planet and for people to demand objectivity because two separate subjective views clash is ridiculous.

    The whole “playing instruments well” is a good way to know whether a band is doing what they do well. That probably where all objectivity ends. Skill does not equal substance, and proficient bands sometimes don’t follow up with the rest of the package that makes a Good Album.

    Your favourite band got a bad review? Suck it up and move on. Yelling about an individual’s personal opinion differing from yours only makes you look like a petulant child. If more people share the same sentiment, then maybe you’re just listening to shitty music?

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      I figured you would. You’re a pretty smart guy. (See what I did there?)

      Ok, but really, I was thinking about how we objectively even do with ‘how well a band plays their instruments.’ Because there are bands like Burzum or Darkthrone that produced metal classics for the ages that have the technical fluency of an intoxicated 14 year old. But a band like Dream Theater is basically the equivalent of master chefs making a grilled cheese sandwich. So, even on that score, it depends what you like, right? Maybe I fucking hate djent despite its progressive tendencies, but I love a band like Wolves in the Throne Room or Darkthrone despite the fact that musically speaking they’re not particularly advanced at all.

  • http://terminalchimp.co.cc Matt North

    I have a serious problem here. You keep writing so much that I agree with that I feel my will is being subverted. So.. could you do me a massive favour and say Abba are the greatest metal band of all time, just so I can violently disagree and reset my internal “crock-of-shit-o-meter”? Much obliged.

    Seriously though, you’re absolutely right. It’s like ice cream: loads of people like chocolate chip minty flavour while I don’t care much for it. That’s just the way people ARE, everyone’s shaped by different things which cause inherent bias anyway. Why can’t people realise they’re fighting over which flavour is best when there’re more than enough flavours out there to satisfy everyone? So in conclusion we’re all retardedly stubborn SOBs who need to relax. End ramble.

  • http://www.metalreviews.com Chris

    Very insteresting post and essay.

    You make some great points and yes objectivity is subjective and unquantifiable. My initial comment was about giving 0.5 / 5 on something that sounds good on all fronts (imho), all three singers know what they do, the guitars are played well, the songs are catchy (okay the drums are overdone and synthetic)… I’m talking of Amaranthe of course… Giving it a 2.5 and finishing it’s really music I can’t stomach but I know some people will would have been more “objective”… damn you I can’t even use that word now :).

    But in the end there is only one truth, opinions, we all have our own, and we can be influenced by reviews to check out bands and albums, but in the end its each personal taste that will prevail. I personally love this band Amanranthe from the first listen, yet I love more traditional metal, I actually like many different genre within the metal sound, even AOR, bands like Dare, heck even Bon Jovi (mostly the first 4-5 albums though), Magnum, yet I love melodeath just the same (In Flames, Children of Bodom first three albums, now I call them Children of Boredom :)… so I guess that’s not being very objective either, just stating my own taste)… and of course Power Metal. The only genres I don’t forray into (yet) are thrash and black metal, and anything really brutal or hardcore… I’m always in search of melody though, that might explain why I haven’t really dug into these genres.

    Anyway, great post. On our site (metalreviews.com) we try to let people who like a specific style review that style of music… it may looks like metalreviews is making money in ads but actually it doesn’t (probably my fault for not trying to do it right), it doesn’t even bring enough to pay the hosting :). But in the end it’s all about taste, my own fellow reviewers sometimes write reviews that make me jump on the ceiling, like the latest Norther album was given 55 or something… and let me tell you that when Metallica St Anger was reviewed and given 1/ 100 it made a shitstorm, and honestly I was pissed at the reviewer too, you can’t put 1 / 100 unless the CD you bought is empty or filled with random noises… Fortunately we have the ability to have multiple reviewer put alternate quotes, so more “objective” (I hate you :) ) quotes appeared though one of them even put 0 / 100 :)… I guess when someone hates a style or an album there is no softening the blow. I did that once or twice, but it’s usually 40-50 / 100… it really has to be sonic diarrhea for me to go under 20-30 / 100 but the percentile quoting system offers more flexibility in that regard (we also have a how we quote that puts definition for number scales, like 100 is legendary, 90-99 is masterpiece, 80-89 outstanding,… etc). Though we could have a whole essay on how to give a band 84 / 100 instead of 83, what makes the difference of 1 point ? … etc. We’ve been through this internally and many times we’ve questioned if the percentile scoring should stay. Being that Metalreviews.com was started by my brother and myself back in 2000 after a few month after our visit to Wacken Open Air for the first time (basically that trip inspired us to do the site) and that my brother was attached to this idea of the percentile quoting I’ve decided we should keep it if just for the respect of the true creator of the site (every idea on the data that should be included came from my brother Danny, I was just the geeky brother making it happen on the net :), I then added my 2 cents afterwards).

    Looky looky here I’ve went offtrack… for everyone who knows me they know this is typical behavior on my part.

    Anyway, as for Amaranthe let’s agree to disagree :) but on this post I agree that objectivity is subjective and not really something one can define and I really like how you brought the subject under such scrutiny (I didn’t except that from my post really) and analyzed it deeply. Good job.

    Peace.

    Chris,
    In Metal We Trust !

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com/ Angry Metal Guy

      Hey Chris, I’m glad you appreciated the post. It is tough to use the word “objective” once you start actually thinking about what it means. I think what you’re trying to say is that you try to be more ‘fair’ in blending opinions and so forth, and I think that’s admirable. I’ve been thinking about doing something vaguely similar, in allowing Steel Druhm, for example, to give me a score for things that I’ve reviewed. I think it helps to point out that these are indeed all opinions.

      As far as the .5, it’s because I think the album is pablum, scheiße, bajs, horrid, terrible, no good. And largely it has to do with the fact that it feels so manufactured and the production is so cold and faked. The songs feel gimmicky and I hate it. I really felt nearly ill while listening to it. It just rubbed me in the wrong way. The thing is, I’m actually a very eclectic guy. I like poppy power metal, but this shit just rubs me the wrong way.

      The problem is that you’re not the first to say this, a lot of people say this. It kind of surprises me, to be honest. And you know what else? I think that negative reviews, if they are well thought out and they discuss a records shortfalls, can be a good complement to positive reviews. And it shows that there is a lot of variation of opinion in the scene.

      Finally, I was in no way taking shots at your website. That’s why I referred to my site the whole time. Advertizement is something that a lot of people do, and I’ve thought about it when looking at the visiting statistics on my website. People show up when I write good reviews. It is rare that I get a ton of traffic for a negative review. So, I see the incentives as being built towards being positive, because the Internets are based on how many links you’ve got and stuff. That’s how it is.

      I want to commend you for driving metalreviews.com for as long as you have, by the way. I think it’s really rad, and I appreciate that you have put in a ton of effort into it. No disrespect was ever meant to you personally in all of this, this rant has been building for a very, very, very long time. :)

      See, I’m not so angry after all! ;)

  • ptrick

    This is exactly the reason I have seen some review sites refuse to put up numeric ratings – it upsets people too much.

    I personally love a numeric rating system and your site specifically – you are doing a great job, I have been turned on to so many new bands that I love now because of your blog posts.

    The fact that we can have different opinions on something is what makes life interesting – if there was a quantifiable way to rate music – then theoretically the labels would only release perfect cds which we know isn’t the case.

    Everyone has a different brain, different set of tastes, different life experiences, all of which shape our listening experience.

    We’ve all also taken a different path into our metal listening journey… the bands that have brought us here, some start at the hardcore and move into the melo scene, I personally started with bands like Blind Guardian and Metalilca and moved into much heavier stuff… all of this is going to influence how we perceive a band.

    The fanboys are always going to defend their artist to the end even if the non-fanboys for a particular artist feel that the latest release is a pile of garbage.

    The best thing that people can do is listen to an album before reading a review. This way their listening experience will not be influenced by outside forces. From my own experience, I have found that reading reviews before listening to the CD (especially for bands I already listen to) can only have bad effects.

    I like review sites mostly for finding bands similar to what I already love. This way I can diversify my musical catalog and segue into new genres of music using similar bands to the ones I love to move me closer to a new genre of metal – for example I’m currently starting to move into doom metal.

    In parting, your site is my first stop for finding new metal bands, I think you are doing a great job, and I’m buying you a beer.

  • http://blogg.vk.se/kuno Kuno

    Great writing, despite its “heaviness” or rather complexity. You are a brilliant writer.
    Speaking of that Amaranthe album I did too get the task of reviewing it for the local paper and did score it with a 1/5. This based on my own personal musical taste and not on how skilled the musicians are. But by name-dropping acts such as Nightwish, Sonic Syndicate, Dead by April, Deadlock and E-type in my review I think that people into this kind of “manufactured” music that is Amaranthe will pretty much just give me the middle finger if they spot me in town and check out the album regarding my bad scoring. I scored the new Septicflesh a strong 4/5, still I know people who hate it. But we’re still friends;)

    • http://blogg.vk.se/kuno Kuno

      Goddamn, sorry for the bad grammar :/

  • Dániel

    You didn’t do the whole papers research specifically for this post, did you?

    “hi there everyone who think they are going to think they’re being clever by turning my discussion back on myself”

    Bwahaha, nice one.

  • Nyarlathotep

    Indeed. The only part of this post I would contest would be the notion that people listen to obscure bands to brag to others about the knowledge of such bands. I assume most people, such as I, do it to hear more of the genre they love, instead of listening to a few dry mainstream bands.

    • http://blogg.vk.se/kuno Kuno

      That is something that I forgot to mention in my previous post, I totally agree with “Nyarlathotep” on this. But then again I did take that part in AMG’s rant with a “pinch of salt”. Another thing I forgot to mention was that if I were to base which zines, blogs, magazines, newspapers to read based on the sole fact of how well the reviews agfree with my personal taste in music. If that would have been the case, I would no longer be a reader of AMG since I think that the new SARKE album is fucking awesome, not a 2,5. This whole thing made me think of the episode when Kentha Philipsson reviewed Nightwish’s “Once” album for Global Domination back in 2004, scoring it 4/10. The label got back to him saying “You can’t write this and that…” which ended in him writing a “I’m so sorry” version of the review, scoring it 600/10.

      • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

        Wow. Wow. Really? They fucking complained to him? I haven’t had that happen, but certain labels will even say to me things like “If you don’t like something, just don’t review it.” I feel like that is really kinda lame. The point of having one person who reviews things is that you kind of get their temperature, right? Steel Druhm and I like different things, I might have given the new Sarke record a better review than he did, but you get a feeling for the individual and you can see that we have a pretty good curve going (from 2.0 – 4.5 is almost a normal curve).

      • Valerie

        A similar stir happened on Sonic Cathedral – apparently somebody gave Delain’s first album a 7/10, and the band was actually bothered enough to ask them to change it, via e-mail and in person. Thankfully, they didn’t change it…

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      I dig deep into genres as well, though I don’t have time to do the kind of searching that some people I know do. I think it’s fun, I like hearing good underground bands because the underground is and always will be the heart of metal. That said, I think some people with very bad self esteem use their knowledge of bands as a cudgel to hit people over the head for purposes of validating themselves. This is not everyone, but these people do exist and I’m sure you know a few yourself. I could have given any number examples of varying types, that was just a bit of tongue-in-cheek, since I try to keep things light (particularly if I’m going to break out the social science literature).

      • Nyarlathotep

        Yeah I figure most of us know that person who inflates his ego by flaunting the number of underground bands he/she knows. I also assumed that you have encountered that stereotypical person, due to the fact that you occasionally reference (with disdain) these type of listeners.

        • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

          You’re right, I can be a little bit bitter about it. I mean, I really find it to be a frustrating, bitchy habit. And I think that a lot of it feels really arbitrary. But, again, opinions. I listen to what I listen because I like it, not because anyone likes or doesn’t like it. The same cannot always been said of that individual, in my opinion.

          • Nyarlathotep

            I hate those people too, honestly. Anybody who doesn’t take their metal seriously is my enemy. So basically the majority of teen “metalheads”.

  • http://highplains-drifter.blogspot.com/ Carl

    From the reader’s point of view, there are two kinds of reviews: reviews about something with which one is already familiar and holds an opinion, and reviews about something with which one is not familiar and (therefore) can hold no (informed) opinion. Thus, the informed reader seeks to discover a reviewer whose opinions on things are generally aligned with the reader’s own — thereby allowing the reader to get a reasonable idea about what other things they might like or dislike based on that reviewer’s opinions (and their history of aligning with the reader’s opinions). Or, in other words: AMG is a big Amorphis fanboy, therefore AMG is (very likely to be) right. ;)

  • Erik

    Wow, thanks for testing my reading skills. Both English and psychology aren’t my main subjects in school so this essay on objectivity proved to be quite difficult for me. But it was interesting nonetheless. You made a clear point there. It’s something that people should always bear in mind when either reading or writing reviews.

    You might have been a bit harsh in that Amaranthe review and I can imagine people that like it felt ‘offended’. That’s why I wanted to state the same as carl did: find a website where reviews are similar to your own taste and use that to separate the albums you probably will and will not like. For me, those websites are metalstorm and AMG. So cheers! I’ll keep on reading your reviews!

    Regards,

    some Dutch guy who appreciates the time you spend on maintaining this website.

  • Disinterkin

    This may be a bit off-topic, but allow me to ramble for a bit; I am reminded of how I made a conscious decision one day to change the way I speak. Many times when I would discuss music (or the multitudes of other arguable arts) I would idiotically wind up using common phrases like “that (insert song or band) sucked!”. Ah. how naive I was back in those days.

    So I realized, even though technically speaking I was still just expressing my opinion, it was undeniably leading to arguments by acting as if my opinion was fact.

    Since then I have paid close attention to how I discuss such things and changed my phrases as the aforementioned and simple minded – “that sucked” into “I disliked this because my tastes are more relevant to…(various reasoning based on the subject matter)”.

    Even though it may not seem like a big change it has dramatically improved my ability to hold intellectual conversations with people since I am no longer threatening what unknowingly could be something they enjoyed.

    Mainly my musical interests have expanded greatly over the years, which also improved my ability to understand people’s various outlooks on music and gave me the ability to rationally discuss the material at hand. (and then I come across people that act as I once did, well I have to simply reflect back on myself and have a slight chuckle at the irony of it all) Such as what brought me to this site was my constantly increasing interest in folk infused metal.

    And from that, I would like to show my gratitude to AMG (and of course his other hard reviewers) for making such an amazing blog and posting fantastic topics like this as well. It is truly great to see. I’ve been a lurker for six months now and finally decided to reveal myself. Keep up the great work!

    Sorry if much of what I just said seems broken or completely irrelevant. I’m streaming intoxicated thoughts together here at random.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Yeah, but saying that something doesn’t suck is way less fun.

      Just a thought.. hahaha.

      That’s the one problem with my argument, it takes all the fun out of music criticism in that same sense. But what I’m doing is acknowledging that I’m saying that I think something sucks. Though, for example, I’ll be posting a review later this week where I can objectively say that something sucks.

  • Steel Druhm

    I go away for one lousy weekend and we go all metaphysical, and self reflective. Are we changing the site name to Bitter Intellectual Beret Wearing Guy?

  • Themistocles

    While i don’t think a person can truly objectively judge any art form (be that music, film, food, beer, what have you), what i do think people can do is remove bias. By that, i am getting at what you said when you reviewd the (awesome) Human Abstract album when you used the “calling a spade a spade” line. That’s essentially what I am saying, if you are trying to “objectively” judge a subjective art form, then you are objective by being honest with yourself about what is and isn’t good, removing your own preconceived notions.

  • http://daughterofplunder.blogspot.com/ Daughter

    Hah-hah=hah…

    In Steel Druhm we trust!

  • Mike

    I for one enjoy your reviews. I have found some I totally disagree with but on the flip side you have turned me out to several great bands that I had never heard of and for that i say THANKS!

  • http://metalreview.com Jordan Campbell

    Thing is, the only time people complain about a lack of objectivity is when a reviewer’s views don’t jibe with their own. Thus, the battle between disgruntled commenter and reviewer is hypocritical at its core, and not necessarily worth fighting. The only way to prevent such bullshit is to cover your bases like a motherfucker; to the point that if a person is throwing a shitfit, it’s usually due to a lack of knowledge, reading comprehension, or both.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Yeah, it’s true. Or you could write a pseudo-academic response and just link it every time they say that.. Haha.

      Still, you’re right that in some ways one needs to work extra hard to make sure that you’re making clear where you stand. But it still feels ultimately wrong for me that anyone would even have that kind of expectation.

  • http://www.paulcreswell.com Paul

    Dream Theater = master chefs producing grilled cheese sandwiches

    that’s always been my take on them too, but I never quite summed it up so proficiently

  • http://musingsonmetal.blogspot.com/ Josh

    Cheers on your post. I think objectivity is a slippery slope; demand it too fervently and you won’t end up committing any ink to paper (or black pixels to white). You’ve got a strong opinion and a wealth of musical knowledge; it’s your prerogative to share your opinion.

    Your best reviews are those that inform us about what’s on an album – and then you either cheer it or skewer it. That way we know what the album is like and can pick up on whether you think it’s good.

    I especially like it when you tell us that a band is particularly good at something — even when you don’t like it. That lets us know that it doesn’t work for you, but you know, for example, that they’re “playing their instruments well.”

    Keep up the great work!

  • Ciaran

    Great paper there, AGM! I freaking love this website.

  • zolos

    Angry Metal Guy is right!!! ;)

    What is the point in reading reviews to learn about new bands and discs, when you know that the reviewer always gives good scores and/or reviews only stuff he likes?

    One of the things I looked for upon firstly visiting your site are harsh reviews (another thing obviously was having similar taste in reviewed music).
    Bad reviews are indeed a sign that the reviewers *CAN BE* objective (as in “have the capability of not-asslicking-bands-24/7″). So it’s not “objectivism” that people should look for, which, as you argued, cannot exist in a subject like personal taste in music, but rather the possibility of free thought and expression.

    Thank you for pulling no punches, being angry and helping me discover lots of great bands. Bookmarked :)

  • Razorhog

    Totally agree with the gist of your post. I must admit I am far too drunk to read the entire thing. However, I feel much better about reading reviews here – and anywhere, actually. I actually tend to agree with most reviews on AMG. When one rubs me the wrong way I might bitch and moan like a little girl for a bit, but then soon I’ll think of this post, and how subjective music (art) is and feel better. Thanks

  • theshatteredspear

    Very well said. I can’t believe anyone would argue with you over your opinion lol.

    I myself have disagreed with you on a few occasions. I don’t really like all of Orphaned Land’s stuff and I really like Eluveitie (just not their new CD Thousandfold), but I never argued with you over what you thought and although you called them boring I respect your opinion. I still continue to read your reviews as a means to discover new bands (Iron Thrones I found through you). Anyways, keep doing what your doing and I’ll keep reading lol. :)

  • http://www.deadvoiddream.blogspot.com Dead Void Dreams

    AMG,
    Great write up there, congratulations!
    Here’s one bit of advice to all those complaining about someone else’s reviews,website,xeroxed zine or home backed cookies: “Don’t moan,make your own”.
    Should they tried then it might downs on them this ain’t a walk in the park…
    PS That bit about Lord P and Nightwish has been priceless.

  • http://nonem/ Ozan

    Hello AMG from Istanbul,

    Well, according to http://www.dictionary.com “objectivity means:
    “–noun
    1. the state or quality of being objective: He tries to maintain objectivity in his judgment.
    2. intentness on objects external to the mind. ”
    Hmmm…being objective? What’s that? Ok…
    It is (again according to dictionary.com)
    “–noun
    1. something that one’s efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish; purpose; goal; target: the objective of a military attack; the objective of a fund-raising drive. ” and
    –adjective
    4. being the object or goal of one’s efforts or actions.
    5. not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
    6. intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book. ” as well.
    So considering this information, objectivity, in my opinion, in all kinds of ART forms (whether is literature, art, music, acting, cinema etc.) are SUBJECTIVE! That’s it! Period!

    However, again in my opinion, we MetalHeads definitely need guys like AMG! Why? We need it because objectivity can only be achieved when someone (in this case humbler reviewer AMG) shall challange our perspective subjectivity on subjects such as metal bands and their music. For instance, I am a die-hard Type O Negative fan, I even cried when I heard the news of Mr. Steele’s untimely passing. I mourned for a whole week and I was only listening to Type O Negative during that week. Some of my friends, who are both metalheads and totally-NOT-metalheads, argued with me why I even cared about him and his music. I gave them only one but totally necessary response. I asked them a question. “Why does it bother you that much?” None of them (both metalheads and totally-NOTs) gave any *solid* answer to my question. Then I began to ask more questions such as: Am I hurting myself physically? Am I doing any harm to anyone or anything from mourning? Am I being unethical to society? Am I being a bad person? so on, so forth…They all replied: “No.” Yeah that’s right! So, AMG and the rest of you might think, “dude, what the hell are you talking about? How is that shit even related?” Ok…
    Even though, the people whom I know and whom I don’t even know talked about (and some people, I am sure, still do) T.O.N. in a very negative way, it had no effect on me whatsoever towards disliking T.O.N. in any degree even. Not one bit! I am still a fan of Type O Negative despite the fact that Peter Steele had passed away. In my heart, I still keep the green light burning. So it does not matter much to me whether AMG or some other person gives a bad review (yo dude I don’t mean you will ever give, this is just an example) about Type O Negative, I still am a fan! THE FAN!

    Another example, I never liked Dream Theather until recently. Until two months ago or so, I always utter the words “Dream Theater” with extreme distaste. So what has changed my mind? One of my close friends who is happened to be a Dream Theather fan has changed my mind. He told me that I might have read some shitty reviews but I should have decided whether I liked it or not after I had given a try… I think you all know what I am trying to say here. And I think Dream Theather’s last album is great! And none of you even AMG has to agree with me. It is, by all means, a review, nothing more ;)

    With that said, let’s come back what I have mentioned above. Objectivity can only be (imo) achieved when someone challanges our subjectivity. Any bad review for any metal band and/or album will certainly affect the reader in some degree good or bad, positively or negatively. But, one can absolutely decide whether the review is good or not, when one actually listens to the reviewed album. AMG has written some negative reviews on bands that I like in his blog. I am not angry to him. Not one bit! Why? Because with his reviews he gives some understanding, perspective even on the reviewed albums. He showed me different angles

    AMG has certainly affected me on my decision process for buying the said album or not, yes that’s for sure. But I am not totally convinced moreover I am actually going to read more reviews about the said album from the different reviewers. There are some reviews I totally agree with AMG and also there are some I sooooooooo totally disagree with him. But hey, he challanged me in a way to think differently from a different point of view. This I totally respect! Because ladies and gentlemen farting smells bad and somebody has to say something about it! :)

    We all should think about any kind of *reviews* in this sense regarding objectivity. In my opinion it is healthier that way, if not HEAVIER! :)
    Finally AMG, I have recently started reading your blog and let me tell you it is very insightful. I am gonna buy you a beer soon!
    Cheers to you all metalheads \m/

  • Neltah

    Damn it. Now if I would have read this first and got more of a real feel for what you’re about I probably would have been a little nicer in my response to your soilwork The Panic Broadcast Review. You make complete sense and are absolutely right. I’ve been Humbled by an Angry Metal Guy. I didn’t see that coming.

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  • Hayduke

    And this is why I read AMG and the other writers here pretty exclusively for album reviews.