Angry Metal LisaHere at Angry Metal Guy, you probably have noticed some changes lately. It has been coming up most for those who have been reading for a long time and these people have been expressing concerns about certain aspects of this website’s continued expansion and change. So I’m here to give you guys some real talk about exactly what’s up around here, how things are changing and why things are changing in the way that they are changing.

When I started this podunk little Internet blog back in 2009, I didn’t really have any goals for it. Sure, I wanted people to read my stuff, but I was just one guy producing as many reviews as I could (roughly 5 a week, which when I think about it now is totally fucking insane – but I hadn’t started grad school yet so I had a lot of extra time on my hands), and I never really wanted much more than to be able to do that. Being fiercely independent, I really hate working for other people and decided that it was better to be my own boss at a tiny little blog. This worked so well for me that the blog started taking over my life in a way I’d never expected it to. My hard work and dedication started coming back to haunt me.

Engendering trust because of my frankness and bringing in the work ethic and hilarity of Steel Druhm, this website continued pushing forward. But we were pretty much content to publish 5 days a week and keep it cool. Over time, however, my publishing schedule has continued to shrink as my outside life has continued to encroach on what is – after all – my hobby. This blog has turned from a fun thing to do and  way to get new music into a machine that needs to be managed in order to be kept producing 7 (or more) reviews a week. In order to this, I have brought in others to help. Lord Doom, Rusty, Alex, Natalie Zed, Madam X, Fisting that Andrew Guy, Happy Metal Guy and others. This, in my opinion, has been to the profound benefit of Angry Metal Guy as a blog. Being more inclusive – pulling in voices from literally all over the world including Egypt, South Africa, Canada, Singapore and even the wasteland known as New York.

But with a diversity of opinions and tastes have come some side-effect of a wider variety of opinions and tastes. Sure, that may sound all well and good, but in the end it has led to a couple things. First, because individuals choose the reviews they want to do for the most part, it leads to some grade inflation, individuals are more likely to choose records they’re more likely to like and therefore they are more likely to give those things higher grades. I try to get things to be done even-handedly, but sometimes Steel Druhm produces three 4.5/5.0 reviews in a month and if he does, and Lord Doom gives something a 4.0, I give something else a 4.5 and Natalie Zed gives something a 4.0 – we’ve highly recommended a quarter of all the releases we’re covering in a month. This didn’t happen when I was working alone because I forced myself to try to review everything, which means listening to complete crap about 75% of the time, and I used to assign Steel Druhm material which meant I was dropping metalcore in his box and making him cranky.

But another part of the rating problem is that we don’t all necessarily have the same opinion on what a 4.0 means. Over the majority of the reviewing world, it seems to me like 4.0 means = It was OK. A 4.5 means = Yeah, I dug it. A 5.0 means “Yeah, I really dug it.” Which here is should be a 2.5, a 3.0 and a 3.5. That is why last week I “instituted” a new reviewing policy. I will go through it in detail down below. This is just so that everyone is on the same page as to exactly what these numbers mean (h/t to hubcapiv for spawning part of this list).

  • 5.0 – In competition for record of the year, will definitely make my end of the year list and I will be listening to this in 5 years. In competition for top 10 of decade to come. Obviously that’s hard to predict, but this should really just a phenomenal record. For me personally, I try to use Orphaned Land‘s The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR or Iron Maiden‘s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son as the bar. If I don’t feel the same kind of elation listening to this album as I did listening to those, it’s probably not a 5.0.
  • 4.5 –  An excellent record, in competition for end of year lists and possibly the record of the year in its genre. I will be listening to this for a long time to come and set a Google alert for this band’s new material.
  • 4.0 – A great album, full of spunk, totally enjoyable with a few minor drawbacks. In competition for the top 15 of the year and will be come back to in the future and will seek out material by this band.
  • 3.5 – A very good album. A major complaint or two, but generally speaking an enjoyable and competent record. Probably not in running for end of the year, but you’ll probably look into other material by the band.
  • 3.0 – A good record, enjoyable but not something that will get me listening to this band’s material in the future. I will probably come back to it now and again this year.
  • 2.5 – OK. Not super convincing, but some good stuff on it – enjoyable even if you won’t be back. Doesn’t fill you with seething rage. This is not a panning of an album, it’s saying that it’s OK and you’re unmoved.
  • 2.0 – Disappointing. NOTE: It is ENTIRELY REASONABLE to give a good record by a great band a 2.0 if you hate their new record even if the fans will say to you “But it’s so much better than everything else that’s being put out right now,” that’s irrelevant: the band’s own material is the standard you are judging it by. These records tend to be tepid, but have a few moments. Still, as a whole you will not return and you might even be thankful that you never have to hear it again.
  • 1.5 – Bad. Fewer nice things to say, mostly bad things to say. Rage building.
  • 1.0 – Makes you want to rant, a total turn off. Chargin’ yah lazer.
  • 0.5 – Major blemishes and all of the above. Fills you with rage.
  • 0.0 – Induces homicidal urges or the band literally cannot play their instruments. That they managed to get their music to you is a feat, because one assumes that anyone releasing an album like this must have some kind of brain damage.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: When in doubt GRADE DOWN. If you’re waffling between a 2.5 and a 3.0, go with a 2.5. It is better to be wrong down than wrong up. Sure, people will complain, disagree, whine, bitch and accuse you of not being objective. But we’ve been proudly subjective for this long. So meh.

This is not going to affect problem 1, it will however affect problem 2. There is now a consistent set of rules that we will try to use to make sure that we are being consistent across the board as to what our scores mean. This means that you can disagree with someone who gives a melodeath or a post-black record a 4.0 – but you know that this person’s opinion is that said record has only a few minor drawbacks, will compete for a stop in their Top 15(ish) and that they think this band is great and will actively seek out new material from them. You can think they’re wrong, but you no longer doubt what they mean.

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  • This is the best ratings breakdown I’ve ever seen. YES.

  • And that’s using discrete steps… I can’t imagine the mess if scores were 4.77 or Pi*3/4!

  • This isn’t much that different from what AMG and I have been doing all along, it’s just being re-emphasized for the masses…and the asses. I personally have only given out a 5.0 three times since 2010 but yeah, we need to quash any grade inflation like its a fire breathing, whiskey stealing cockroach.

    • Yeah, it’s true. I think I just made it a bit more precise. I think it was needed. I know that given these scores I probably could go back through and downgrade a lot of records.

      • There are about four records I would go and change. 2 down, 2 up.

        • make me guess: one is the Ne Obliviscaris record!

          • Yeah, I’d definitely grade that down. ;)

          • Colin Stuart

            Noooo!!!

        • Huh. Reaaaally? That’s surprising.

          I’ve got a couple I’d go up with for sure. Guilt Machine and Crimfall. Down, I could probably come up with a handful.

  • Makes a lot of sense.

    My day job for 12 years was writing about videogames the last half of that as the editor of a popular site. We suffered problems of score inflation. Too many members of the team only wanted to review games they’d obviously like or were looking forward to. I tackled it in two ways. Firstly I only offered the AAA games to reviewers who were willing to take something else on of my choosing along with it.

    Secondly I wanted to make sure the text matched the score. So if I didn’t feel the copy sent to me was reflecting the score given I would change the score to reflect what I had read. I didn’t have to do this very often after initiating the policy as the writers began to naturally better represent their review in the score they gave, driving scores down.

    Alas most games sites seem to have two scores in reality – judging by their reader reactions. Anything getting a nine from ten is amazing and a must buy, anything lower is probably not worth the money. They may as well have “buy” or “don’t buy” as their scores. And the perception seems to be 7.5 is the cut off point between positive and negative.

    I would have removed scores completely from the site if i could. But the almighty metacritic was a major source of traffic for us. The bosses would never have gone for it.

    I don’t do that job anymore, got bored of web warriors threatening the lives of my children because I didn’t give a videogame they’d never played the extra half point they thought it deserved. I now occasionally review some records instead, merely as a hobby rather than a job, and as it’s just my hobby we’re doing it my way. So no scores at all, people actually have to read what we’ve written.

    • Piet

      Reviewing games or music (metal ofcourse) as a job (so getting paid) seems like a dream job to me :D

      • It’s not as much fun as you might think. Remember games take a heck of a lot longer to review than an album, and a shitty album is gone in an hour, a game not so lucky. And most of my career I’ve been a site editor, I’ve been managing writers, dealing with PR, sorting out admin, and often just playing games in my own time, not in work hours. Yes there have been fun times too – trade show trips to LA, Paris etc. But in the end it’s just a regular job, albeit one that deals with something fun rather than meaningless numbers on a spreadsheet.

        The real great thing about it was that for some of my career I’ve worked from home – and that’s been the case since I became a dad.

  • 2012 has been a good year in metal so far, so it is understandable a certain grade of grade inflaction (ha ha). that said, I totally agree with AMG’s remark: for me a perfect grade is given only to a history-making record, or something really outstanding. In my view, no record produced past 2010 gets a 5.0. the closest competitor is Moonsorrow’s Varjoina, which is a 4.75 for me.

    so, go on with this policy! I liky my AMG to be severe!

  • MetalMartin

    Don’t worry about your ratings. I trust them and all the time I did it was right, especially when I’m trying out albums you rated 4.0, 4.5 and 5.0 I’m never disappointed whatever the sub metal genre – though you don’t do core a lot, lulz!
    MM

  • Firstly, don’t listen to people on the internet, and sure as hell don’t let opinions affect your M.O. Secondly, we read because we felt your reviews were fair and entertainingly written. I’d rather read two by you than 20 by anyone else.. it’s why I abandoned Metal Observer and avoid other sites. Thirdly can you bring back the option to sort by grade, reviewer etc. I liked reading all the 0’s and I like reading the 4.5,s and 5’s after that can wade through the middle shit on my own…

  • I’m with some of the people here, ratings are perhaps to me the least important part of your reviews, I come here for quality writing and lulz. MOSTLY for the lulz. Casuals may come to raeg hard at the low scores their favorite bands receive but after all is said and done, we the regulars come back because we know this is one of the most consistent and knowledgeable sites about metal around the intertubes. Keep the bar higher in the writing quality and let the others cater to the fanbois with whatever number makes them happy.

    • Colin Stuart

      Word.

  • Hurenhugo

    i must say i don’t really have a problem with reviewers only reviewing the stuff they like… i tend to not read bad reviews anyways (unless it’s an album/band i really like or the rating is so low it might be funny to read the rant).

    i usually assume that albums that are not getting reviewed just don’t deserve the attention… of course that might be unfair to unknown bands, but i guess really good albums will always draw attention somehow.

  • Jeyakrishnan

    Its been 7 months since i moved on from Metal Underground to here and I have never looked back. You guys got exceptional command of English and that coupled with your individual traits – caustic humour (Here’s looking at you, Steel Druhm), the no-bullshit attitude (AMG) or straight out wackiness (HMG) always keeps things interesting here.

    It goes without saying that you guys introduced me to a lot of bands that I wouldn’t have otherwise particularly cared for….Moonsorrow, Asphyx (the whole Swedish Death metal scene really) and Anathema (Non-metal on a metal blog…SACRILEGE. :p) to name a few.

    Anything getting a 3.0 or above from you guys (AMG / Steel Druhm) is good enough for me but scores put out by the others just doesn’t convince me as much. Maybe with time, I’ll get comfortable with their writing style, but till then…..

    Keep those awesome reviews coming. Cheers.

    • Thanks a lot, Jeyakrishnan!! We here at AMG appreciate all the very kind words.

    • Mike_Callavaro

      Well said, I feel exactly the same way.

    • Dude, thanks a lot! We work hard at it, so it’s really great to hear that kind of feedback.

  • You are usually very objective imho, but your co-reviewers aren’t as much so. Steely D does right. Regardless, I visit this site several times a week and glean mucho metal from your lunacy. Thank you!

  • I rarely, if ever pay attention to the numerical ratings. The
    writing in this site is just fine, and from reading a review I get a pretty
    honest and accurate assessment of whether I’ll be interested or not in listening
    to the reviewed album. Why not ditch the ratings system altogether?

    • The sheeple demand it! ;)

      I like giving ratings, it’s challenging.

  • GarrettValdivia

    APPROVAL (b’.’)b

  • Mila Brochku

    I just want to say thank you for introducing me to Amorphis. I totally agree with AMG that these are the “finest string of neo-classical metal albums in the decade: Eclipse 2006, Silent Waters 2007, and Skyforger 2009”. I just don’t want to listen to anything else but there is so much out there to hear. I also would never have heard of Moonsorrow if it weren’t for AMG and I love them too. Also Sigh, that I recently read about here, are exactly as you described them. Your reviews are right on and I know that if you like it, I will like it. Thanks again.

  • Martin Knap

    Someone is working on an app to rate people. Compared to that the question of whether give ratings or not is pretty negligible.

  • Will Charnley

    Angry Metal Guy, include dynamics in your ratings. If you take Horrendous – Anareta, listen to Ozymandias, absorbing you with it’s incredibly dynamic, rhythmic movements (DR 9 I think?) and then take Homeruiner by Thranenkind (King Apathy Album, DR 6) and listen to them back to back, your ears will be bleeding by the time Homeruiner has finished, because it sounds like absolute pish in comparison. Mind, the songwriting does not sound like absolute pish, the song writing is fab. But what’s the point in a well written song that hurts to listen to? Anyway, this blog awarded a respectable 4.5 to the beautiful, incredibly attentive, heart-renderingly emotive dynamics of Anareta, and a 5 to an album that sounds like it was churned out of any given amateur studio by a guy with too many wannabes on his hands to make any of them sound half-decent. Absolute shame. It’s like looking at the mona lisa through a snap chat filter. Also, wastes my time checking out your 5.0 list because most of them seem have atrocious dynamics and really, considering how brave it is to publish a quieter record in a louder world, the 5.0’s should be reserved for DR9s and above. Having said all that, really do appreciate you commending Horrendous and Native Construct for their dynamics. I had almost given up on metal considering the likes of modern Metallica and co. Thought nobody knew how to produce music anymore. But I need more than two goddamn bands who actually care about the production.
    Scratch that, three, Trivium, Silence in the Snow, proper lush. Thanks for that one too. Please keep the high DRs coming. You’re slowly restoring faith to a metal heart.
    Peace out