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Best User Reviews: January 2023

New year, fresh start!
1Kashee Opeiah

"The overall songwriting has lent a hand to this shift as well, with the emphasis on palm-muted chugging riffs being mostly dropped in favor of a more classic metalcore sound, but still featuring lots of stop/start rhythms and the occasional odd time signature. It's clear that Kashee Opeiah hasn't lost any of their prior ferocity, but it's being employed in a slightly different way than before. Opener "Paralyses" does a fairly good job at prepping listeners for what's to come, being chock full of catchy riffs that showcase both their penchant for minor 2nds (or "panic chords" as mathcore fans have lovingly dubbed them) as well as some of their post-hardcore influence with a brief passage about a minute in that bring bands like Frodus to mind." --Space Jester
Durance of Lightless Horizons

"While the tempos are certainly doomy, the instrumental tone embraces an ironic sense of lightness. The chords here generally appeal to ideas richer and more complex than mere death, and the sprawling leads often depict a sense of terrible beauty. That's not to say there aren't plenty of crushing riffs on Durance…. such as the trem early in "In Caverns it Lurks", yet even these sections suggest an echo of horrifyingly vast and insurmountable spaciousness. The sound production is necessarily but subtly polished; Durance… is certainly a cleaner and clearer experience than than the average death metal album but the clarity lends itself excellently to the most aesthetically decisive aspect of each track which is the guitar leads." --ffs

"Vulfpeck have been plying their trade for over a decade now, and the fact that they’ve kept a sound that relies so heavily on the sounds of yesteryear fresh and entertaining for that long is impressive, in part because on paper this should have been a formula that had a shelf life of maybe two-thirds of an album. But Vulfpeck have always been adept at retrofitting the venerable earworms of Sly and Stevie and breathing new life into them through a sly wink and a deferential tip of the hat. That their pastiche of the funk and soul greats of the past century should manage to both be tongue in cheek in its own right and a fitting and respectful tribute at the same time shows that the self-awareness with which Vulfpeck approach the aping of their idols is primarily affectionate, that yeah, it’s silly to be making this music so long after its heyday, so why not have a good time with it?" --DadKungFu
4Woods of Desolation
The Falling Tide

"Throughout its mercifully concise half hour runtime, The Falling Tide exhibits the best and worst of Desolate's songwriting skills. It works best in its two standout songs, the opener "Far from Here" and the album's title track, which ebb and flow over hypnotizing low-end melodies and soaring passages, exploding in roaring crescendos. The unusually hoarse but fitting tortured vocals, certainly an acquired taste for genre enthusiasts, blend in well with the instruments, adding to the album and band's trademark evocative natural atmosphere. It's a soundscape that is both bleak and beautiful, and full of existential celebration but also anguish. Elsewhere, the album sadly can't sustain its momentum, especially due to Desolate's over-reliance on twinkly guitar licks that ring woefully hollow and become downright boring." --LimpDickNick
5Devouring Famine
Haunting Echoes

"Based on the light pa rum pum of the drums, one might expect a weak of the week release, but such is not the case. Shrieks on offer push sharp daggers into the chest, whilst blastbeats play. The riffs are especially good, icy cold yet served up fresh, so very raw indeed! There’s nothing fishy about it, it’s good ol’ black metal, hard as metal goes. I forgot to mention that Devouring Famine is a one man act. If you weren’t impressed before you should be now, because one might be easily deceived into thinking this debut is from a full band. This solitary human strikes forth, and brings surprising supplements of endless energy to his riffs. Tally-ho!" --pizzamachine
6Oxbow and Peter Brotzmann
An Eternal Reminder of Not Today

"By Brötzmann’s own testament, he had not heard Oxbow’s music prior to being offered to jump in on their set, lending his contributions an almost totally improvisational bend. So for large swaths of these stretched-out agonized tracks, the listener might be fooled into thinking that they’re listening to an Oxbow live show in one channel and Brötzmann’s free form solo apoplexies in the other. If that seems disjointed, it’s because it is, and yet it all works to a near perfect level. It’s only a little futile to look for cohesion, at least in its orthodox meaning here, when both Oxbow’s brand of frenzied art rock and Brötzmann’s abstracted freak-outs have always travelled on contorted trajectories." --Borracho
7Iggy Pop
Every Loser

"The most prevalent issue however is lyrical rather than musical - the album is littered with the kind of vulgar sleazeball lyrics that sound ripped out of the mind of the creepy uncle at family reunions whom parents have to warn their teenage daughters about. The aforementioned black hole of artistic integrity Neo-Punk is a prime example of this, the seedy and distasteful refrain of “Got a cuss on my voice, I’m a neo punk // Got a spot on the voice, I’m a neo punk // Oh, ladies come and flash my junk” whilst repulsive, seems uncomfortably cultured next to the faux-adolescent barrage of crassness that is Frenzy, opening with such gems as “Got a dick and two balls, that’s more than you all // My mind will be sick if I suffer the pricks.”" --Sinternet

"As mentioned above, the album has a thoroughly retro-pop, almost disco aesthetic. There are moderately catchy instrumentals, there are bouncy bass lines, and there is Bradley Walden, tons and tons of Bradley Walden. Look, Walden is far from a bad singer, but his performance highlights the foremost problem with the record. Due to the nature of the songwriting, Walden is expected to carry the album without a whole lot of backup from much of anything else. Unfortunately Walden doesn’t quite have the same charisma as others who inhabit this genre, and his performance doesn’t do a lot to set himself apart in his own right. It’s not that he doesn’t try; he does, but it’s hit or miss and he noticeably sounds out of his element at times. It seems like for every moment where Walden lets loose and captures the moment, there are two that sound out of place or awkward (just listen to the Jackson-esque shout at the onset of the record to know what I'm talking about)." --Manatea
Neon Noir

"Albeit somber, there is a tenderness that songs like "Loveletting" and "In Trenodia" are willing to display. Ville definitely wears his influences on his veil as you will not find more lovesick synths and acoustics this side of 'Disintegration'. There is an ever-present sense of melancholy even when the pace picks up on the title track as well as "The Foreverlost". In these louder moments, the contrast that may have come from a soaring guitar solo once upon a time now comes from an infectious melody instead." --LightChaotic
10Margo Price

"The tracks ‘Radio’ and ‘Change of Heart’ both experiment with digital sounds like synth leads and drum machine beats while still being able to transition into traditional americana/country hooks and melodies. Without meaning to sound like a broken record, it’s these transitions and dynamics that keep Price in a class of her own when it comes to modern country music where the most popular of artists will abandon the roots of their genre in favor of trends, radio play and mindless digestible songwriting. There’s a clear effort to create the most poignant backdrops to Price’s lyrics especially in a song like ‘County Road’ with lovely piano melodies, melancholic slide guitars and quietly strummed acoustic guitars." --mkmusic1995
11Turmion Katilot
Omen X

"Besides the death growls -- which have a little too much gurgle for my taste, but oh well -- there are also a number of other vocal varieties on offer: A children’s choir, Gregorian chant, at least one chorus accompanied by a shouted crowd; the list could probably go on. Lady song, a staple on many of their previous albums, is amply distributed throughout this album also, with an effect reminiscent of a faster version of Sofia Portanet’s and Petrozza’s duet on Kreator’s song Midnight Sun. Having been a teenager when Cannibal Corpse was a young band, it’s weird to my ears to hear a soprano singer accompanying a death growl, but it's sort of common in metal these days, and here it has a surprisingly appealing effect." --kildare
12Screamer (SWE)

"Everything is competent, but certain songs would’ve benefitted from more in-your-face choruses while others could’ve gotten a little more oomph in the riffs or drumming. Fortunately, it’s not the sort of thing that derails the whole experience as there are enough good songs for Kingmaker to stay enjoyable. “Chasing the Rainbow” is the most standout track with its speedy rhythms and stirring chorus dipping into power metal territory that “Ashes and Fire” follows up as a tight mid-tempo contrast. “The Traveler” and "Sounds of the Night" also work as simple but fun rockers." --PsychicChris
13Nicole Dollanganger
Married in Mount Airy

"Summarizing the rest of the record can be mostly boiled down to how well the instrumentals can present Nicole’s lyrical content, which proves to be a somewhat mixed effort. I like how “Runnin’ Free” pulls off a particularly saccharine nature with a narrative that seems as equally sentimental as the instrumental gives away. “Whispering Glades” is a piece seemingly about a woman grieving over not having reasons to leave gifts for her late partner, which is backed by a fitting two-step folk composition that progresses at an exceedingly gratifying pace. The other side of that effort appears in tracks like “Bad Man” where Nicole describes the horrifying ordeal of reflecting on the murder of a likely abuser under the guise of a stripped-down folk song." --BlazinBlitzer
14Mac DeMarco
Five Easy Hot Dogs

" Forgoing vocals or hooks, and possibly good taste, Mac DeMarco has completed another phase in his Jimmy-Buffett-ification. Someday very soon, I expect to see him touring on a Carnival cruise ship to a gaggle of very happy 30-somethings, practically soggy with nostalgia. Because while this album may not be as outwardly offensive to some people as Here Comes the Cowboy was, it is the one thing that Mac hasn’t been since he started out: completely ignorable. An artist, who at one point was impossible to escape hype/anti-hype for, quietly slinks into the background on Five Easy Hot Dogs, like wisps of cigarette smoke into a 3mph wind." --SandwichBubble
Sky Void of Stars

"On the other hand, Sky Void of Stars is one of the best refinements of their sound in quite a while. The most important of these refinements is the return of the energy levels that have been lacking since The Great Cold Distance (Night is the New Day is excellent, but energetic it is not). Opening track, “Austerity”, immediately benefits from these renewed energy levels; delivering a heavy track that is more playful with the prog elements because it is not hampered by sluggish tempos. Other notable tracks that make good use of the band’s renewed energy levels are “Colossal Shade”, “Birds”, and “Author”, all of which are able to be more creative with their rhythms and dynamics. Of course, Katatonia haven’t suddenly become this heavy, proggy, metal band; there are still plenty of slow atmospheric songs, but these have been refined as well." --TerraIncognita
16Bloody Tyrant
The Legacy of Sun-Moon Lake

"However, the album's crowning achievement is easily Final Battle of Sun-Moon Lake. This track features everything great about this album in a five and a half minute package. It starts with brutal riffs and more relentless vocal work. Following this, the pipa returns, bringing in solid melodies until the song abruptly drops into a quick guitar driven breakdown that then erupts into a flurry of guitar notes that introduce us to the album's next great solo. The remaining minutes give a sense of triumph through its great vocal lines and an upbeat folk melody from the traditional instruments that seizes your attention until it is over." --Zac124
18The Interbeing
Icon of the Hopeless

"The lyrics are captivating and distinguished in presentation: a hidden benefit, I have long speculated, of poets writing in English as their secondary or tertiary language. This band achieves a palatable poetic style that is hard to do well: using an abundance of uncommon words and synonyms, without much attention to explicit rhyme and flow. While it is arguable that this strong lyrical focus atrophied after their first album, 'The Edge of the Obscure'—now leaning into a clear, descriptive style focused on unfolding story events—The Interbeing still has a knack for wordsmithing exactly the right line that mystically resonates with your higher senses. "Fade the sunlight and dissipate, I pray for no-one."" --Permafrost
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