Contrite Metal Guy – Mistakes Were Made

The life of the unpaid, overworked metal reviewer is not an easy one. Cascading promos, unreasonable deadlines, draconian editors and the unwashed metal mobs – it makes for a swirling maelstrom of music and madness. In all that tumult, errors are bound to happen and sometimes our initial impression of an album may not be completely accurate. With time and distance comes wisdom, and so we’ve decided to pull back the confessional curtain and reveal our biggest blunders, missteps, oversights and ratings face-plants. Consider this our sincere AMGea culpa. Redemption is retroactive, forgiveness is mandatory.

On September 18th, it will mark four years since Vattnet Viskar’s Sky Swallower, my first-ever review, was published here at Angry Metal Guy. In that time frame, I’ve written over 200 reviews and think pieces for the best metal blog on the Internet. But in those four years, I accept my scoring abilities weren’t flawless, despite my grumpy half-feline nature reflecting otherwise. Some albums were rated well (at the time) until they became soundtracks to my life, and others were rated well (at the time) until I completely forgot about them, or they lost their impact over repeated plays. Today, I look at five albums that needed re-scoring.

Before you ask, no, Killing Joke isn’t on this list.


Darkher - RealmsWhen I was slated to review Darkher’s debut album last year, I was blown away by how Jayn H. Wissenberg’s simplistic approach to moody music would put most doom metal legends to shame. At the time, my chief complaint was the production, especially as it related to Shaun Taylor-Steel’s (My Dying Bride) drumming. Realms earned both the score it received, as well as the Record o’ the Month honor for August.

But I’ll be damned if I can get the damn thing to leave my CD player1 over a year later. I originally stated that Realms was a perfect album for a rainy day, or a cold winter evening. Honestly, I listen to it when it rains, gets cold, gets sunny, becomes overbearingly hot, or just because it’s a well-crafted album that gets everyone to shut up and take notice whenever I play it. 4.5 is too low a score for something that silences and enchants people. Hence…

Original Score: 4.5
Adjusted Score: 5.0

Vainaja VerenvalajaSpeaking of albums that refuse to leave my CD player or psyche, Vainaja’s Verenvalaja topped my Top Ten(ish) list for 2016 with ease. There are two kinds of doom metal that win my blackened heart over: the mopey, melodic kind that tugs at the heartstrings, and the kind that instills the feeling of dread, like when a terrible creature is 100% going to kill you, and there ain’t shit you can do about it. Verenvalaja is the latter kind of doom. My one qualm about the album was the lack of variety in the tempos.

Again, hindsight. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t listen to Verenvalaja at least three times. Taken as individual songs or as a whole, it’s not a long album, so those slightly-over 40 minutes turn into an afternoon of replaying the album again and again. And that production is perfection. Just like this album.

Original Score: 4.5
Adjusted Score: 5.0


I know, I know. When Heartless dropped a few months ago, I was won over by the stronger production, Pallbearer’s slight adoption of progressive overtones, and the retention of their trademark heft. In my original review, I stated that I honestly didn’t know how to rank this against their previous album, the near-flawless Foundations of Burden. More than likely, a few more months would pass before I could render proper judgment, and a few more listens would be required.

Well, months passed and listens were made. Their stronger songs on here definitely rank among the best (“A Plea for Understanding” and “Dancing in Madness” are phenomental), and that production is better than Foundation’s smothered sound. But while “Ashes” grew on me a bit from Foundations, I never play “Cruel Road” or the title track to Heartless at all. And while the album is still very good, I can’t honestly call it “4.5 good” if I’m skipping tracks. Sorry, guys.

Original Score: 4.5
Adjusted Score: 3.5

Ahh, Anaal NathrakhDesideratum was unrelenting, uncompromising, and unhinged when it laid waste to my eardrums back in 2014. The much-respected Birmingham duo crafted, at the time, an album that could potentially throw their fanbase into a frenzy while upping their game as musicians and lyricists. I fell in love almost immediately, proclaiming that it was stronger than the two albums, Passion and Vanitas.

To their credit, it was stronger than either of those two albums, but nowhere near the level of insanity that was 2009’s future Yer Metal is Olde candidate In the Constellation of the Black Widow, and was definitely dwarfed by Desideratum’s immediate follow-up, the timely and poignant The Whole of the Law from last year. In fact, “Idol,” “The One Thing Needful,” and “Unleashed” are the only songs I return to from Desideratum. Good, but lacking in comparison to those two albums.

Original Score: 4.0
Adjusted Score: 3.0

Of all the reviews that I look back on in hindsight, To Our Glorious Dead by Canadian kitchen-sink metallers Will of the Ancients would rank as the most baffling. At the time, I was enamored by the audacity to combine every influence, no matter how disparate, onto one album. Also, the goofy-but-fun sing-along during “The Trapper” and the Wintersun-esque and majestic “The Stars Like Dusk” proved that Will of the Ancients could throw so many influences together and put out something of worth.

But this album didn’t age well at all. In fact, listening to it now, I’m cringing a bit. There’s just too many style changes, and other than the clean vocals near the end of “The Trapper” and the ending chants of “The Stars Like Dusk,” they aren’t good. It’s a shame, too, as there’s a bit of charm here that could really shine if they tightened the ship a bit.

Original Score: 4.0
Adjusted Score: 2.5

Show 1 footnote

  1. Yes, I bought it after reviewing the album. Support your favorite artists, gang!
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