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Best User Reviews: December 2022
1The Riven
Peace and Conflict

"While Peace and Conflict might be a slight step below from The Riven’s self-titled debut for me, it essentially offers the same seventies rock flair with the same bursting enthusiasm. The vocals are as engaging as ever, and the multi-faceted songwriting is fueled by equally dexterous instrumentation. It’s the sort of formula that’s simultaneously hard to screw up or present with that much flash, but its stellar execution should scratch the itch of those seeking the prowess of the old masters." --PsychicChris
2In the Woods...

"The album art of "Diversum" is quite inviting which added to my private hype. With new singer Bernt Fjellestad, the album immediately reminded me of Green Carnation’s 2020 album "Leaves of Yesteryear". This link in sound has deep roots as In The Woods… were formed in the early 90’s by Kobro and the Botteri brothers after splitting from Green Carnation. The early songs on "Diversum" have a melodic hard rock/metal grounding with deep flowing guitars seguing between various song arrangements. The main feature of this new incarnation is Fjellestad’s soaring clean singing, spoken word narrations and contrasting harsh vocals, often delivered in layered vocal harmonies as heard in "Moments" and "We Sinful Converge" --Muzz79
3Elder (USA-MA)
Innate Passage

"There are times where Edert's more laid-back, minimalist-ish approach does work to great effect -- I think of the final home stretch of Catarasis here, where his almost stubborn refusal to deviate from his rhythmic pocket does accentuate the track's dreamy climax, or the opening of Merged In Dreams - Ne Plus Ultra, where (again) his minimalistic tendencies are to the benefit of the tracks spacious atmosphere. But then are tracks where Edert's snare placement is just plain off, robbing the songs of a certain kind of momentum where it needs it most. (For this I'd refer the reader to 'Endless Return', where the uneven snare placements -- while artsy and strange, sure, I think gel with the guitars like oil with water.) Or tracks where Edert simply On top of which, Edert's drumkit seems to have basically two cymbals -- hi-hit and crash/splash -- and it can start to sound very one-note after awhile." --pennyroyal22
4Chelsea Grin
Suffer In Hell

"“Crystal Casket” features one of the nastiest most absurd breakdowns of the year to close out the track along with some Tom’s most outrageous vocal passages in his career. The album closer “Suffer in Hell, Suffer in Heaven” is literally just a two-minute breakdown that periodically slows until it reaches a molasses-slow rhythm. It’s insanely heavy, completely ludicrous yet a very fitting end to a record that’s only concern is to be extreme in every possible facet. Perhaps the most consistent and well-written of the songs on here is the second single “The Isnis” which sort of reminds me of the rhythms of patterns of deathcore compatriots Whitechapel’s song “I, Dementia.” It’s groove-laced passages and vocal chants are addicting and complete earworms while still maintaining a level of heaviness that is expected of this band." --mkmusic1995
5Snarky Puppy
Empire Central

"An immediately noticeable problem is that the album is a behemoth, clocking in at just over an hour and a half. This wouldn't even be a complaint if the record were consistently engaging or interesting, but arduously trudging through long and lifeless tracks to get to the interesting ones, such as "Portal” or “Pineapple,” is a constant problem throughout. The length of the record is of lesser concern, however, to the composition. While I have referenced the virtuosity of the musicians, the songwriting is too boring to allow them to showcase what they are really capable of. There are points where the band shakes off the dull pallor and comes to life, which of course is incredibly enjoyable, but it's too infrequent to offset the overwhelmingly mundane composition that plagues this record." --Manatea

"The writing on these songs finds Findell at his most reflexive and referential – the title track’s second verse (“a hypochondriac, I think of you blood pressure spikes…”) comes up multiple times across the album, acting as a thesis statement linking the disparate narrative themes of chemical dependency, anxiety, and lost romance. Mental illness is a prevailing theme across the record (makes sense for a record called “hypochondriac”) and, true to form for an emo record, life events and emotions are scaled for maximum Emotion. Past slights becomes unforgivable betrayals, Twitter likes induce panic attacks. Across these 13 tracks, Findell takes an axe to his ego, mining his insecurities and indiscretions for meaning." --davidwave4
7John Zorn

"All life takes part in action, striving towards a sort of proto-will to power best fulfilled by a knowledge of and participation with the god-that-comprises-the-universe through knowledge and thought, which is the other knowable attribute of god. Again, a broad, clumsy paraphrase of Spinoza’s thought that has so little to do with the content of this album that I’m not sure what bearing it should have, if any, on its assessment. But conceptual disjuncture aside, Spinoza frustratingly showcases both the best and the wankiest aspects of Zorn’s output up to the present day. That it still shows that Zorn and company can still wild out with the best of them is no doubt impressive, more than 30 years after Naked City. And the sheer exhilaration of the title track is more than worth the price of admission. Just try to have the patience to get there." --DadKungFu
8David Maxim Micic

"Cry in usual Bilo fashion features the once again guest vocalist in Vladimir Lalic, he does a great job here again, yet I cant help but notice the similarities with Devin Townsend everytime. This track will certainly be the most crowd pleasing track of the bunch, as it features the prog metal that fans come to know from DMM oh so well. The riffs are all at full display on this one, and it's all very enjoyable. The chorus riff though is very reminiscent of the outro riff to String Theory by fellow prog metal and djent band Intervals though, and if you look you will definitely see the similarity." --Tundra
9Amberian Dawn
Take a Chance - a Metal Tribute to Abba

"It’s truly amusing how effortless the transition to metal is. The original tracks don’t give much leeway for creative riffing, but Amberian Dawn manage to get spanking. There’s also some key changes, and little tongue-in-cheek additions such as a song ended on one operatic vocal note. Of course, that’s all there is to it. The album is an unapologetic duplication of the past, and an original band is nowhere to be found. The metal version of Lay All Your Love on Me is finally here, but you’re better off listening to ABBA’s rendition." --pizzamachine
10Wolves at the Gate

"Lowborn, altogether, is a well made, rounded out EP, with very few flaws. One flaw could be O Holy Night, which stays acoustic, and doesn’t scream at all, with almost five minutes length. Another one could how strangely and abruptly The King closes out the record. But, in the long run, a Christmas Ep doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’, right?" --Minortimbo12
11Surface to Air Missive
Shadows Leap

"Few manage to escape these discursive and rhetorical traps, and even fewer manage to do so by charging head-on and fearless. Shadows Leap is a great album just for the simple fact that it’s got some very good songs in it. It's entertaining, dark, psychedelic, haunting and weird. Deceptively simple and uncomplicatedly baroque at the same time." --rabidfish
Acts of God

"Such aural destruction is synonymous with this band, yet it’s impressive how Immolation constantly make what is on script a rather stylistically limiting sound, appear so powerful, vital, oppressive—just bear witness to how “Shed the Light”, “Blooded” or the churning agony of “Overtures of the Wicked” are concisely defined. This succinctness is attributable to songwriting acumen and shared chemistry, as each seasoned player knows exactly how what works within the context of such world-burning death metal. And in less skilled hands there might be a drag mid-album when it comes to a 15-track affair. As alluded to, this is not the case with Acts of God as the run into “Immoral Stain” is relentless, and the brief introductory coda to this Christ-crusher is the only respite afforded—the juxtaposition between its beginning and brain-mangling end is startling." --DeanBrown

"Despite the solid riff writing, a decent chunk of this album still ends up feeling forgettable and ‘done before’. Amongst the sea of crossover thrash bands, this band does not really capture the same highs and energy of the best of the genre, such as Power Trip. Even compared to other releases within the genre from this year, SpiritWorld falls a bit short. Bands such as Ninth Realm and Mindforce feel like their sounds are much more unique and fully realized, while SpiritWorld do not stand out as much as a result of them failing to take advantage of a fairly interesting gimmick." --Zac124
14Bambi Baker
Diary Of Dolls And Death

"For an artist making music with solely an i-pad, and with no studio nor expensive tools to aid production, this album is shockingly well put together. The album conveys stories and emotions that are rarely brought to light or spoken about. Feelings, thoughts and experiences that most would shy away from, unwilling to face due to their difficult nature- but this album takes them head on, shining a much-needed light on things such as unhealthy/difficult relationships, mental struggles and regrets." --daemonaria
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