Angry Metal LisaOver at No Clean Singing there has been some uproar over the fact that Facebook has instituted a new policy trying to force people to pay them in order to promote their posts. There has been a pretty major freakout and I think that’s reasonable. The primary point has been “oh, but the underground bands!” Well, fuck that. What about me? My fucking website has no ads on purpose. We do not get paid for our work and we attempt to earn no money. So why should we have to pay for our fans on Facebook to have an equal chance of seeing our posts? Still, we at Angry Metal Guy seem to be doing a better job of reaching our fans on Facebook than others given the information I’ve read about it. We’re getting upwards of 30% often and recently as far as upwards of 40% with virality. But why make this harder for us? It’s hard enough doing what we do sometimes.

And while I’m bitching, I need to just say this publicly to all the labels out there: hey labels, I am not leaking your promos. I am willing to allow you to watch my every move on the Internet. I have not, will not and have no desire to share your music illegally. But here’s the thing, when my Nuclear Blast promoter refuses (for no good reason) to give me promos in time that makes it really hard for me to do my job. I know they give other blogs stuff months ahead of time. But apparently we at Angry Metal Guy have been put into the “embargoed” list, which means that my promo guy sometimes just fucking ignores me outright. And sometimes I get shit 2 days ahead of time. And sometimes I will get something—but usually after I’ve written 14 e-mails and bitched. When Century Media decides that they’re going to stick their collective heads up their asses and ban me from receiving promos further than 1 week ahead of time? I get pissed. And the response I get? Well, it’s pretty much: “deal with it.” I actually do promo work directly for Napalm Records bands and they still have me in their embargoed pool in Europe.

As reviewers we work for the industry and we do it for free (or technically for promos, but since many labels actually now only send streamable promo, they’re trying to take that away, too). Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. There are no independent music journalists. And because we are expendable, the industry could give a shit less. Do they treat trusted blogs differently than just any old blog? Apparently that’s too much work, so instead we all get banned from getting records ahead of time. No one can get any material at all until it’s too late and then boom someone fucking leaks it. Who isn’t in this embargoed group. Like the new Nile. Or the new Kreator. Or the new Sabaton. And so on.

And that’s the infuriating irony: despite embargoing bloggers, shit leaks anyway. At this point, I have a habit of writing to my promo guy when I find out that something leaked (he still ignores me, mind you, ’cause he apparently just doesn’t give a shit). But it is fucking bullshit that bloggers get embargoed when it is obviously not bloggers who are leaking the material en masse. Sure, it maybe has happened that bloggers leak, but why would I risk my fucking neck to give people free shit? Why? I work for the industry! Do you fucking people not understand that we work for the fucking industry? I do interviews to promote new records. I do reviews to promote new records. I post information on tours to promote bands and their tours. I am a network point connected to nodes that are labels. My job is facilitated by the labels. Plain and simple.

What kills me is that the plan isn’t working. All the smart people in the industry seem to have made up their mind that embargoing records against bloggers is the best way to do it: and then the new Nile record leaked before I got promo. Just like everything else leaks. Just like it happens every time. Maybe it is time to reconsider the fucking plan. Treating bloggers like criminals is a good way to discourage people who write quality reviews to want to stop doing that. My job should be writing about music and promoting good records. Instead my job is trying to wrangle promo copies of records so that I can produce a review in good time. For you assholes, not for me. I just like to review music as a hobby and right now I am fucking sick of that hobby.

I would get the material sooner if I was a pirate. And that is fucking pathetic.

[Edit:] It has come up among the comments that actually AMG is one of the most read blogs in its genre—according to Islander from No Clean Singing—which means that it’s doubly ironic that we’re getting treated like this. Some have theories that it’s because we don’t just give the thumbs up to every record that comes through for us. I know that it’s at least partially true that some labels in the past (Scarlett Records, Twilight Vertrieb, Prosthetic Records) have stopped sending promos after we have panned a record, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the case. I’d like to hope, however, that it’s not. I’d hope that the labels understand that with bad reviews comes trust: these guys here at AMG aren’t just rubber stamping every piece of shit that passes through our mailbox. We love what is good, we hate what is bad, and you can trust our reviews. That is the kind of promotion you cannot buy. It is the kind of promotion that you get by being genuine—a thing metal fans seem to really care about.

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  • Amen!

  • david n sanchez

    Totally agree with you AGM! Sad but true! :-(

    • Spelling Nazi-mode Happy Metal Guy strikes!

      Hands up and place them where I can see them!

      • david n sanchez

        You got me AMG! :-)

  • I agree completely. Sitting in front of some crappy webstream to listen to a record for review a like a prison visit. Here’s the music you love, you can talk for a little while, no touching. And it’s pointless because you can just record the stream anyway using Audacity. Meanwhile people at labels or their dick friends and celebs they give free shit to – who don’t care about music – leak the records.

  • 100% with you AMG.

  • Wow, did not knew it was that bad man, all i can say is a simple thank you for giving up some of your personal time and money keep this website up and to write good qualities reviews.

  • It’s a known issue in the video game industry that giving bad reviews means you’re off the team. Hence the grade inflation and massive spike at ~95% ratings on metacritic (I nerded out and did some matlab on it).

    • thehuntress144

       Ah, I see a lot of shit records getting good reviews, so this answers that question.

    • This is a massive problem, IMO. Because it also undermines reviewers. What makes us good is our fucking willingness to be honest. 

  • You really are doing much better than average getting to 30-40% of your FB fans without paying for it.  I’m still only seeing about 25%, on average, from my FB posts about NCS.  I assume the difference relates to the level of interaction between the fans and the Page posts — eg, the frequency of likes, shares, & comments on your posts — which is what the FB algorithms measure.

    In the few instances when I’ve paid $10 to promote a post as a test, I get just above 50%.  But of course, there’s no way I’m going to make a habit of that.

    Of course, I agree completely with your arguments about why labels should be more willing to share promos in a timely manner with reputable blogs.  And by the way, out of curiosity, I recently used Yandalo and Alexa to check out web traffic and site rankings for the 10 metal-only blogs that focus on reviews, interviews, and news which I think of as the most widely read, and AMG ranked second, after Metal Sucks, so your difficulty in getting promos is doubly ironic.

    • Wow, at your last sentence. That’s really impressive for a blog that doesn’t really lick the boots of record labels in general!

    • Wow. Thanks for that info, man. I like to think that what we do is good and that we’re doing something that deserves to be read and rewarded with, I dunno, timely promotion. 

  • Bands need promotion.

  • Raz

    Damn right. It’s sad when PRs that I’ve dealt with for over a decade still um and ah about sending me an album. I guess they’re afraid I’ll leak it like the other ZERO TIMES I’ve done it. Thanks for writing this and keep it up.

    And the Facebook thing isn’t any different from before is it? It’s just that they’re *telling you* that only 20% are seeing it. Before you just didn’t know that was the case.

    • Yeah, I remember it happening last year. Suddenly being aware that way fewer were actually interacting with our posts on Facebook. Pretty pissed about that. 

      But yeah, man. The PR shit sucks and I hate it. 

  •  You’re embargoed because you fail to rate every record 4.5+, it’s that simple.
    In other words, you’re embargoed for being a good reviewer.

    • It sometimes feels like that. I don’t know if it’s true, but if it is it’s an even deeper indictment of the industry than the rant I’ve written.

      • Ben Carbery

        So the question is, how do other independent reviewers of all kinds in other fields do it? 

        My guess is that they just become so respected by their readers and well known in their area that business has to pay attention. Ok maybe a bit left field, but Roger Ebert for movies comes to mind. He seems to be independent because he crucifies a lot of film but heaps praise on others. And he’s been doing it a long time. Personally I will often wonder ‘what does Ebert think?’ right after seeing a film and go check it out even if I didn’t become aware of it through him. I have my own opinions but I enjoy his writing and respect his opinion enough that it adds to my enjoyment of the film. It’s pretty much the same for anyone reviewer who’s opinions I respect, of which there are few.

        I am sure there is all kind of shifty stuff that goes on and maybe no-one is 100% independent, but there is definitely demand for unbiased expert opinions on just about everything, so keep at it.

        • I think there’s a bit of a difference. Once someone has established themselves, they can’t be given shit by labels. But in our case, it’s very difficult because we’re technically not “important”. 

          • Ben Carbery

            Right, I’m talking about getting to that point, which can only be done through hard work and building a ‘fan base’. Bit like metal music itself :)

          • And that’s why we need you and your buddies to keep coming back. I almost feel like I should set up a system to track record sales directly from our releases somehow. 

  • And THIS is why piracy is not the problem, but rather a symptom thereof. And the entire stupid industry is handling it as wrongly as possible, seems like. We experienced problems like this at Alternative Matter too, so I definitely feel your pain man. Good luck.

    • Did AM go under? Sorry to hear that. :( 

      • Not under, just sort of absorbed into This Is Not a Scene due to meatspace life issues, etc. Thanks though, dude. 

  • I can understand your frustration.  In my opinion, the record companies need to get their act together in terms of organization and managing their representatives and distributors.  I cannot speak for your experience, but when I worked at a record store it always seemed like the record reps that visited us were more or less disconnected from the actual company.  They simply were middlemen where promo material was funneled and the final decisions as to where to place fliers and who to provide samples with was entirely up to them. Ultimately, this seems to lead to the reps enforcing and penalizing as they see fit with little or no input from the actual management (for the larger companies).

    • Yeah, and Century Media—who does all the promo themselves—have the best promo, even if they give out stuff too late. NB has given the promo duties in Sweden to someone else; and that probably explains part of it.

  • Well, if the labels just used some kind of software to “label” each promo copy so if the album gets leaked they knew EXACTLY who did it, most of this bullshit would end.

    Right now I’m seeing a curious trend: Some bands put their albums in free streaming via Soundcloud, Facebook or whatever BEFORE the record hits the street. Last Angelus Apatrida or Gojira LPs have been released this way and I don’t really think they’ve lost any money.

    It’s a shame labels treat you guys like if you were some kind of pest they want to get rid of.

    • The big problem for me is that they tend to give it to bloggers the same day as they release the public stream. So again: what’s the point of being a blogger? Reviews are at least partially about access and preview to generate publicity. Who cares what I have to say if everyone hears it at the same time as me? 

      • Yeah, however AMG is still at my bookmarks and I look everyday to see if there’s something new ;-)

        We know you guys work hard and are legit, and we like you because of that. If I wanted to read crappy reviews I’d buy fucking metal hammer or shit like that.

    • Juular

      They do. Most downloadable promos have electronic watermarks that detail which site and which reviewer was sent which promo. The problem is that the people who leak these albums are pretty good at removing those watermarks, so even when labels do go to the effort of marking the albums, the people who leak them are still going to leak them.

    •  “Well, if the labels just used some kind of software to “label” each
      promo copy so if the album gets leaked they knew EXACTLY who did it,
      most of this bullshit would end.”

      Funny thing is, they actually do that!

      • Yeah, and it doesn’t make a lick of fucking difference.

  • Rough situation, and the reps you deal with clearly don’t understand the online metal community and its major hubs. If I had their job, I’d make damn sure you got a promo copy well ahead of even most print magazines – where the hell do these clowns think they’re going to reach more people anyway?

    I expect more from metal labels, being that fans and word of mouth is the lifeblood of the genre. Its disappointing that such arcane practices still exist  when it comes to trying “prevent piracy”. They don’t know their friends from their so-called enemies. And enemies is a relative term regardless, because if I’m a mid-level band on say Nuclear Blast’s roster, at this point I just want as many people as possible to hear my music however it happens – some of those people become true fans and decide to shell out the legitimate bucks to NB.

    Don’t know what to suggest AMG, but I wouldn’t mind seeing you take a crack at more op-ed style writing in the future if the album reviews begin to stall.

    • Thanks! I agree with you, of course. But I don’t have a ton of op-ed to write. I write them when I need to. I’m just so pissed off at the situation as it is. It’s not sustainable. Good blogs deserve to be treated well. I might not have a massive readership because of the way that I deal with this blog, but I am honest, write high quality reviews and do a job for these people. What more can I possibly do? 

  • While we haven’t had the same extent of the problems you’ve had, I can’t stand it when publicists ignore my emails. If you’re busy, if I did something out of line, or you can’t do something for some reason, at least let me know!

    • Yeah, and the lately, man.. it’s just been the worst. I’m sure it’s partially that dudes are overworked, but I just get pissed off.

    • No, indeed, you just posted a review of the new Nile: which I’ve not received a promo of yet. 

  • Just want to join in the chorus and thank you for keeping the site going despite the obstacles and illogical frustrations.  You guys produce the only reviews I care to read or, quite frankly, hold in any esteem as a barometer for what I should or shouldn’t invest money in.  

    In case anyone from “the industry” is reading: this blog makes me feel like part of a community, stokes my interest in exploring new bands, and motivates me to spend my money on new music rather than other things.  It draws money towards you and your company, and makes paying for music something more than a thing I do randomly.  I think that goes for many who are regulars of blogs like AMG.  

    If AMG stopped writing because you were jerking them around and not making it fun for them to write reviews, you would lose a lot of business from people like me. Just give AMG the freaking promos so he can enjoy his hobby, which conferes benefits to you at the most minimal of expense or effort.  It’s just good business.

    • Chris,

      Thanks for the very kind words. I can speak for AMG when I say that kind of praise goes a long way toward making the job worth it.

      • Yeah, dude. I’m with Mr. the Steel Druhm here. We definitely give a shit what our readers think and it’s definitely cool that you feel so strongly about our blog. Glad we give such good advice!

  • It’s bullshit, man. AMG has the most honest and knowledgeable reviewers everywhere. It’s hard not to suspect foul play here and see the whole leaking stuff as a bullshit pretext for not seeing their sucky bands ripped appart as they deservedly should. Keep on fighting the good fight.

    • Yeah, but they also don’t get their great bands reviewed in good time either. I just want to be able to publish a review 1 week ahead of release. That’s not too much to ask. 

      • Oh it is bad for them, no doubt. The problem comes when the middle men to the middle men (the PR guys for the labels) get their collective heads up their proverbial asses. Perhaps it’s as you say, that they are merely overworked in a industry that sees itself in crisis, but it’s hard not to think that some of these people might just have a really bad case of  despotism.

  • Great write up, AMG. You’re voicing many of the same frustrations I’ve had over the past year with this whole label/blog interaction. It’s free promotion yet at times we’re treated like panhandlers asking for a handout with some labels.

    I’ll have to say though my relationship with CM has vastly improved with one person gone that would consistently do what Alkahest stated by ignoring requests while the two new girls are quite regular about informing of promos. Meanwhile it took over a year and some hoops to even get accepted by Nuclear Blast and somehow I ended up on the European version though I’m in the States and still have no press e-mails coming from that label.

    As someone who used to download a lot and went legit with my site your last line is the best part of that whole thing I think.

    “I would get the material sooner if I was a pirate. And that is fucking pathetic.”

    • Century Media is better than Nuclear Blast. It seems like with NB you’re at the whims of your promo person. *MY* promo person seems to not like me very much and therefore doesn’t give me promo in time. Century Media has set up VERY clear boundaries, but then you never get anything before 1 week in advance which I find to be generally shitty. I asked them to extend it to TWO weeks like Metal Blade and they basically just said “No, you’re a blog, so you don’t have publishing deadlines.” Yes, yes I do, actually dickheads. 

      • Yeah, record labels need to realize that just because publishing on the Internet is much faster and easier than publishing in print, it doesn’t mean we do not need to listen to the records in advance like the print journalists do and then type out the review in a timely manner like they do. Furthermore, our audience is even greater than theirs.

  • Nicholas512

    I won’t comment on the whole leaking stuff, the thing is so obvious that makes some PR people seem really, really dumb in their actions. I will say about the other thing, the fact that labels take offense in having a bad review here and there. I don’t think I’m mistaking when I say that AMG only rarely rates an album below 2.0. And 2.0 is “disappointing”, it’s not “horrible, don’t you ever dare to buy this piece of shit”. No, in the reviewer’s opinion, the selected album does not live to it’s expectations, you don’t really need to google the word to know it’s meaning. 

    The reviewer, however, no matter how objective he might be, cannot really speak for every listener. In the end, music is a matter of personal taste. I’ve found albums rated 4.5 here that I disliked and reviews rated 2.5 that, according to my tastes, I really liked. 

    I’ve always felt the guys at AMG speak their minds. I may not agree with them at times, but I don’t have to. The labels are quick to blame for a 2.5 but it’s not AMG buying their record, it’s people passionate about music. Stop acting like we’re all idiots who can’t think and decide for ourselves. AMG is more like a guideline for me. I find about a new album here, I read the review, I then check a single and a sample on youtube and after all that I decide if I buy it or not. Granted, there is a certain influence, like in the gaming industry and movie industry and all the places you can find the “review” section. In the end though, music is, as far as I’m concerned, a form of art, where every individual has his own final word.

    Send promos to AMG, let the guys speak their minds, let the community have it’s say and stop being so childish and inflexible about the rating system. Promote good music, good bands, and if a great band is getting 1.5 for their album, well, you know what? Maybe they need to make better music. And maybe you, as a label, should’ve already known that. 

    • Thanks a lot! What you do is precisely what I expect everyone to do: read about it here, decide whether or not it sounds interesting, and sample a bit themselves and decide whether or not to buy it. I’m always impressed when people buy shit cold on a recommendation from us. But this is how records get moved. And we help move those records but take no payment for it. 

  • Martin L

    I’ve been a metalhead since the early 80s but I kinda lost interest in the late 90s-00s. Since then, I’ve done the occasional web search for new bands and sounds. I want to say that it is only when I discovered AGM that I fully got back into new music.

    I don’t give a shit about AMG and Steel Dhuhm’s album RATINGS. Those I rarely agree with. I care about the WRITING. How they describe the music, the band. It points me in the right direction. I don’t give a flying fuck if the album is rated 2.0. If the review evocatively describes something that might be to my liking, I will check it out.

    The rating is the subjective, personal appreciation of the writer. It is the EASIEST part of any review. Any ass-clown can do that. The true HARD WORK of the reviewer is in writing a balanced, objective description of the band and album. And that’s where these guys here deliver. It’s tough to do that and it is something that metal fans appreciate and it is something record companies and artists should value and appreciate.

    So listen up, record companies: Don’t make Angry Metal Guy angrier! Or else I’m gonna hold you down while he kicks you in the ballsack!   

    • Thanks! We care more about the writing, too. It’s definitely imporant to us that you guys see our reviews as being balanced, fair and good. It’s also important that we not kid ourselves about objectivity: we’re not objective at all. We’re just dudes (and ladies!) with strong opinions about shit and who are unwilling to sugarcoat shit in order to get access to big labels. So be it. In fact, I think my Amaranthe review probably got just as many people to check the band out as most of my positive reviews do. No promotion is bad promotion. 

      Glad that we helped you get back into music! That’s great to hear. :) 

  • Dave Stall

    I have never posted here but have been a very regular reader of reviews for a couple of years now.  AMG is pretty much the only site that I feel gives me an honest and no shit straight on review of the music that I care about.  The ironic thing about AMG getting blackballed from getting promos is that when I see a really good 3.5 – 5.0 review here I actually go out and drop my hard earned money on these albums without hearing a note first.  Sure I could easily go get them for free but a good review here pretty much (not always, but almost) means it is worth my money.  That should mean something to the major labels but I guess getting honest reviews for shitty albums doesn’t float their boats.

    Anyhow, I hope you guys keep doing what you do.  I guess I am biased towards AMG and SD in general (and warming up to the newer folks as well) but your reviews are straight on, entertaining and accurate.  That is damned hard to find these days and much appreciated.

    • Thanks! Both SD and myself have strong opinions about quality. We don’t necessarily agree on music all the time, but we do agree that the writing on this website should be the best on the Interwebs. 

  • Ben Carbery

    I want to add a vote of support here for AMG. AMG is now pretty much the ONLY way I found out about new music. Why? Cause he covers the fuck out of everything and I respect his opinions. Don’t use facebook at all, I just use google reader by the way so no idea what that is all about.
    But anyway, listen up labels, and dipshit promo guys: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Show some respect to AMG.

    • Thanks a lot! Steel Druhm always deserves a nod here, too. He bears a lot of the weight around here and he’s a pretty colorful guy, himself.

  • I would like to parrot the sentiments of others here in that I find this blog to be an invaluable source when searching for new music to buy and listen to. I’m sorry to hear about the immense nonsense, delays, and hurdles both of you endure to bring us this information. Just know that it is incredibly appreciated. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. m/

  • Christian Jones

    I am another regular reader who feels compelled to offer a few words.

    You guys rock! Erudite reviews written with authority, passion and wit. I haven’t been lucky enough to stumble across reviewers of any other site or genre that I enjoy as much as you guys (the angrier the better, IMO).

    From all the previous posts I detect a collective intake of breath that a blog many of us rely on with cult like fervour is going through troubled times (just don’t let it become terminal forfucksake!!). 

    Another short sighted and counter intuitive aspect of the commercial world  presents itself. What a surprise!

  • The_Martus

    I am a blog reader, not a writer, and so I am a customer of the services that AMG (and others like him & his team) provide.  I also buy a decent amount of music.
    I must admit that until I read this article I was unaware of the hoops they must jump through in order to provide the service they do.
    So to the promoters who seem intent on making life difficult for AMG, I’d like you to consider this:
    90% of the music I have puchased in the past couple of years, I have purchased as a direct result of having read a review on this site – oftentimes without any other form of input to my decision, because I trust their fair, considered and even form of review.
    80% of the music I purchase as a result of a review here, I would not even have heard of, if it were not for this site.
    So, if you want to stand any chance of me spending my hard earned money on your product, then it would make sense for you to allow these guys a reasonable chance to review it and publicise it on this site – and it need cost you no more than the price of the promotional copy.
    Surely that’s not a difficult concept.

  • do as Sepultura said: “Refuse! Resist!”

    we live in a world where they don’t give a fuck about workers. only money counts. for the industries, money is everything, so a good and honest reviewer, like you or mr. Steel, gets ostracized because he’s doing his job at his best. things like these make me sad! I want you to know that the large majority of the readers are with you, so keep on!

    and please, tell the Nuclear Blast promo guy that the production of the new Grand Magus sucks, is abominable and is getting on my nerves, ruining an otherwise excellent record. 

    • I’m not sure that they’re simply picking on us. It’s hard to know for sure. But I do know that we definitely get shafted when we shouldn’t. And part of the problem with being a blog is that you don’t get stuff ahead of time because you don’t have the readership, simultaneously as you don’t get stuff ahead of time so you can’t *build* the readership. 

  • lvtnsnddpths

    very very well said.
    You are not towing the line and you should be applauded for it. Commercial business looks skeptically on anything that goes against the status quo; with no ads, and refusing to accept cash for scores they make you an outlier.
    I posted on Metal Hammer once that they had massively overrated an album, and that they were now doing so consistently and obviously. They refused to print my post. That was the last penny or web hit they ever got from me.
    I cannot speak for others, but for myself, i would say that i do not mind getting the reviews 2-4 weeks late, as long as the quality and lack of bias is preserved.
    PS – the fact you use a mona lisa image in your avatar makes me thing that AMG is actually a woman.
    PPS – Anyone interested in kicking off a nu-metal revival??!

    • I think it’s important to remember that the big magazines are not there to do honest reviews. They’re there to give advertisements for big labels. It’s just how it is. I can’t think of a single band on a major label that’s done a feature and then had their record panned. And so if you do a feature and then review the record, you gotta be positive about it. That’s how it is with everything. Magazines can rip indie bands, but they second you have a label behind you everything you do is made of unicorn pee and jesus hair: magical. 

      • lvtnsnddpths

        but what the labels don’t understand is that when Metal Hammer gives a 9, nowadays nobody believes it; except fools, i suppose a fool and his money are easily parted though, so the model will always work

        please keep up the good work – stay honest trve!, and

        • Yeah, that was like Kerrang’s “100 most important records of 2011.” They’re not even fucking TRYING to be PRETEND to be critical anymore. It’s ridiculous.

  • Ximen Nao

    If it wasn’t for this site I wouldn’t have discovered Hammers of Misfortune or Diablo Swing Orchestra. I wouldn’t have given a chance to the last efforts by Overkill and Biohazard, which were both great BTW. I wouldn’t be listening to Urd, to cry it out loud. I value this site more than I can say. That’s all.

    • Thanks! If it wasn’t for feedback like that we would have quit a long time ago.

  • harley_d68

    I started writing for Rob Liz over at That Devil Music a couple of months ago and have seen his frustration with this problem as well.  Since I am relatively new to the music reviewing thing, I haven’t really had the “opportunity” to experience the roadblocks, etc.  Seems like a poor way to market something that is still truly underground after all these years.

    I don’t particularly like to give bad reviews, but I refuse to sugar coat (see my Manowar review).  Typically I try to review stuff I think I will like, because I don’t particularly want to listen to a bunch of stuff I don’t like just to write reviews.

    Keep up the good fight.  I enjoy your stuff here at AMG.

    • I find that reviewing shitty music helps keep me honest (1) and helps people know where my boundaries are (2). I actually imagined once that we would try to rate on a normal curve, but then I realized that because of the weeding process that is done by labels, the curve will probably not really be that normal at all; that is, labels tend to not sign really shitty bands. But they do sign lots of mediocre ones, and we do our best to show off what it is that we do and don’t like in order to give people comparison points. Sometimes you gotta suffer through shit, but I don’t think it’s fair to just ignore shit ’cause you don’t want to listen to music you don’t like. 

      • harley_d68

         “we do our best to show off what it is that we do and don’t like in order to give people comparison points” 

        That is a great point and I think I do that.  By saying I am going to review what I like, I mean that I generally gravitate toward certain types of metal and don’t pursue others – i.e., I am typically not interested in reviewing Black Metal, but I do give it a listen every once in a while to see if I am missing something.  I will listen to just about anything classified as Power, Progressive or Folk Metal – and yeah, there are some really good bands and some VERY mediocre ones.  We should all be glad to point out the bad along with the good.

        • Yeah. To be a successful reviewer you need to be a bit of a musical ominvore. You need to be able to enjoy a large variety of styles, and I know that I tend to lean towards more progressive material and melodic material myself.

  • I am a bit late to the party, but I understand what you are dealing with, of course. I face an entire new set of challenges in re-establishing a name with the new site (Oculus Infernus), and while promos are coming in, it’s a gradual process.

    I also would like to voice two of my major gripes: streaming promos and lower-quality promos. I listen to a lot of music on my iPod, something I cannot do with a stream, and it becomes much more difficult to become familiar with an album if you can’t listen to it extensively. And with lower-quality mp3s, it’s difficult to judge the quality of an album’s production because of the compression. 192 works, but is hardly ideal. Labels, if you read this, 320 CBR or V0 VBR files are optimal.

    • Yeah, low quality mp3s are going to happen. Still, if you’ve got monitors or really good unbiased speakers, I don’t think it causes a huge problem. But yes, higher quality mp3s would be nice. Streams are ridiculous, but I’d rather get a stream 2 months ahead of time that I can download afterwards than a download 2 days ahead of time when it’s already leaked.

  • Emhellbastard

    Hi AMG,

    Last year we had our album leaked from a pre-release copy that was sent to a blog. We found out about it because someone was bragging about getting a digital version of our album before the release date on the Metal Archives Forum, unaware that they were bragging to a friend of the band. The friend let us know and we asked him to try and get the person to leak it to him as well because EVERY PRE-RELEASE COPY IS INDIVIDUALLY DIGITALLY WATERMARKED. If we check the watermark, we can definitively find out who the leaker was. We never got hold of that leaked version, so we were unable to check the watermark, but I know for certain that some blogger, somewhere, passed around our album before the release date and that blogger is a PRIZE WINNING JERK AND THANKS A F*CKING LOT FOR STEALING OUR THUNDER AND POSSIBLE REVENUE THANKS THANKS THANKS – ASSHOLE. It was so disappointing because the musician/label/blogger relationship can be so awesomely positive and supportive – but if any of the players decides not to play fair, it can get really shitty.

    Dude, if you’re innocent, I hope you can clear your name. But don’t assume that ALL bloggers keep up their end of the bargain, because some of them leak music, and those people don’t deserve to get pre-release copies of ANYTHING.

    – E

    • The problem is no that some bloggers may or may not leak you hard work guys. The problem is that bloggers are being treated like second class publications, just because they don’t have a big name company behind them to arm-wrestle the pre-release copies from PR dudes that act as judge, jury and executor, in most cases without a lick of evidence. AND even without a direct accusation. 

      Bloggers are then being segregated just by people who cant get in the present times and think that Internet publications are irrelevant to their business, and as you can read in the string of comments here, most people use AMG as their sole source of knowledge to find about interesting new releases to be aware of,  about the music they love, magazines be damned.

      And finally, bloggers may very well be being used as scapegoats, also as you can read in the other comments, most bloggers are being made jump through very narrow hoops to get the pre-release material, and it is **still** being leaked even **before** any blogger can get their dirty mittens in the actual files or streams.

      I can get that you are frustrated about the leaking of your hard work guys, but seriously, it is hard for me to see the bloggers as the weakest link in this whole chain of misfortunes.

      • Emhellbastard

        I generally think bloggers do a great job of keeping the bastards honest, and I’m not saying that independent reviewers don’t play a very real part in the promotion and support of bands. And I would never say that blogs shouldn’t receive promo copies well in advance WITH A DIGITAL WATERMARK so if they decide to go rogue blog on us, we can figure out who it was.

        We know it was a blogger who leaked our album. The only people who had copies of the album at that point were

        – the band
        – the engineer
        – the mixer
        – the mastering guy
        – the label
        – the pressing plant
        – the label’s promo list

        The jerk who was bragging about having got a copy of the album ahead of the release date said they got it from a friend who was a blogger.

        Blogs have to understand that they trade on their reputation and it’s not worth it to share pre-release copies without authorisation.

        Just to be maximum clear: what I’m saying here is that there are people who have done the wrong thing by sharing pre-release copies intended for review only, and there is a REAL problem that labels are responding to when they’re clamping down on who gets pre-release copies and when they receive them.

        They might be being a bit heavy handed, but this is a real problem.

        • But I think mass leaks are happening from blogs but not as often as we get blamed for them. What you described, and not to say that it wasn’t unethical, was a blogger giving his friend a copy. That’s bad, but it’s one-to-one trading is not killing the industry. Mass leaks are the problems, and while mass leaks are probably coming from bloggers, I think that there’s probably a way to narrow that down (to who is doing it) based on work. 

    • Martin L

       Lemme get this straight. You claim the pre-release copies were individually watermarked. You claim you learned (from “a guy you know, who knows a guy, who got it from a blogger” no less) that one of those copies was leaked. But somehow “You could never get a hold of said copy”. And yet you entertain the notion of “thunder and possible revenue stolen”?


      Newsflash: If YOU couldn’t find copies of your album on the internet, doing an active search, then nobody else could find it either. It hasn’t been fileshared with the world. And you lost shit. Zero. Nothing.  Maybe the person who claimed to have this leaked copy you have no evidence even exists was pulling your leg to make himself sound interesting.

      Maybe it was true and that person got the copy directly from the blogger. Which would be slightly unethical but is analogous with one-on-one music trading. A HEALTHY practice every sensible person who likes music (including whiners like Metallica) has done since the invention of the audio cassette. There’s controversy on the impact of filesharing but nobody in their right mind thinks one-on-one trading is an issue. It never has been and never will be.

      Either way, whether the copy was leaked or not, there was definitely no harm done.

      I wish you the best with your band BTW!

      • Emhellbastard

        Nah, in our case it was more annoying than anything else. It was the bragging that really gaped my goatse.

        • Yeah, that’s annoying. And stupid. If you fucking get a record ahead of time from your buddy, keep your fucking mouth shut. But, for example, I even feel weird playing tracks for people who aren’t supposed to hear the record ahead of time. I guess I’m weird about it.

          Plus, I’m paranoid that shit I share *even with my reviewers because that’s the way the system works* will get shared and I’ll get in trouble. So I tend to be even more strict about the rules than I probably need to be. 

    • But then something needs to be going on in order to sift out the shitheads who are leaking shit. If that happened, then that blogger should be punished. But I have never done that, there is no reason to believe that I have done that and there is absolutely no reason why we should be treated like criminals when we haven’t done anything criminal. I will repeatedly say this: I do not share other people’s material. 

      But the problem is basically that labels are being *lazy* instead of being strict and aggressive about their policies.

      Sorry that this happened to your band. That sucks. Is your stuff independent or on a bigger label? What kind of revenue do you take from CD sales? 

    • Btw. Thanks for giving a countervailing opinion. It’s nice to have a well meaning debate about these things, IMO.

  • BestServedCold

    Hang in there AMG. I wouldn’t be into metal very much at all without the reviews that you’ve done. I don’t always agree with your opinion or what you write, but I know I can always trust it. I know you aren’t paid off by the companies to give their bands a 5, so when I see a high rating I really have to take a listen.

    You’ve done great work. Thanks for everything. Realize that for every review you give be it a 5 or a 1, someone at there is reading it and enjoying it.

    To the record companies, we have a saying, “Any publicity is good publicity”. So, you are definitely going to want the most popular metal reviewer to look at your stuff. It will help you out no matter what rating he gives.

  • kelbyfetter

    It’s silly that you get treated this way.  I look to AMG for spot-on reviews of metal releases.  And guess what?  If this site gives a record a 4.0 or higher, I generally buy it.  I’ve learned that AMG reviews music with a palate similar to what I like in metal.  If it gets the album of the month nod, it’s generally excellent material.  

  • The majority of albums I’ve bought in the last two years (that I wasn’t
    buying already) were recommended by this blog.  Even if an album’s
    leaked, I’d like to think a good percentage of metal heads will buy it
    anyways, often in multiple formats.   As a musician and someone running a small independent operation, I just give digital copies away from the start, people that care will support us with beer money and everyone else can FOAD for all I care. 

  • Hail the great corporate music industry.  Making friends with every shovel full of dirt on their own graves.

  • Robotron2084

    This is the only music blog I read and trust. So many reviews here have lead to purchases from me and my family. Wake the fuck up sleepers in the industry. Don’t condemn one of the last of the few friends you have left….review blogs.

    …oh and I never have (never will) facebook/twitter

  • I sympathize with your argument. And agree with your whole situation. BUT….it’s not a job. Its a hobby. And that’s why they don’t…and never will give a shit about what you do for them. To them…you’re not legitimate. SO “F” ‘EM. I’D miss the reviews….but respect is resect.

  • Am I the only one who read this initially as “On Things That Make Angry Metal Guy Hard?”

    • I’ve been digging at the bottom of my material, so I might consider this one.

  • Lorenzo Magario

    If I may be so bold,

    why not creating an efficient business model, and scaling up? Getting bigger, and better? So there won’t be problems about being embargoed, or cool bands without proper attention. You already have an awesome ranking on both Alexa and Google.

    The first problem would be mktg, but in this age it is easily overcomable with talent and some money. And, as I just said (ranking), you already are on a very good position.

    You talk about art, and it can be sold. There’s money to be made, and used to help talentful musicians.

    People, no matter what is being said, loves good art. People remember Innuendo, and not some other shitty super Pop album of that age. And Innuendo keeps selling, even today.