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Best User Reviews: May 2023

"Fromjoy is an effort within this field of music that doesn’t come often but when it does feels incredibly sincere, and thoughtful, remaining effective. Everyone is weak and flawed in some way shape or form, the first step to fixing it is recognizing that and admitting it. This process takes up a full-length record for Fromjoy and leaves a lasting impression on those who listen." --barlobs
麻​雀​暴​力​射​精​倶​楽​部​: Unpleasant Fate M

"It is an unapologetic exploration of sonic disarray, where beauty and discord intertwine to create an intense and disorienting experience. Bye2 challenges preconceived notions of music, defying categorization and inviting us to embrace chaos. Prepare yourself for a relentless assault on the senses, as this mixtape thrusts you into a dissonant symphony of sound, blurring the boundaries between pleasure and discomfort." --Celestinaught

"On a personal note, I really hope that this album gains just as much popularity as his previous records. It may seem less interesting on account of Nate’s sorrow gone, but it’s important to recognize that he is an actual PERSON, not a figure. He shouldn’t have to stay depressed just to please his fans. It’s great that he feels better about himself, and that he has gone on to live a steady life with his wife and children. NF certainly has given us much, and, if he decides to close his career with this album, it would certainly be a happy ending." --Minortimbo12
4Extermination Dismemberment
Dehumanization Protocol

"The butchery of the sound of Dehumanization Protocol becomes really clear in a few breakdown parts especially in the first part of the record, which are clearly meant to its most barbarous moments, but fail miserably. In "Plague in the Guise of Flesh", “Terror Domination”, “Protonemesis”, or the self-titled track, there’s always a point where the band flashes an ultra slow breakdown with ridiculous loudness, that converts everything to a literal wall of noise and all the rest of the instruments have to quiet down and give way. Honest intentions, but the outcome is as annoying as something scratching your ears from the inside, simply unbearable." --NightOnDrunkMountain
5Kevin Atwater
Downers Grove

"Ultimately, Downer’s Grove is a success that experiences few missteps. Even with the occasional tone shifts (the poppy “KEEP IT COOL!” or Taylor Swift-inspired “star tripping”) the songwriting and textures remain consistent. This is the EP of someone who, despite this only being their second outing, sounds cozied up among some of their more veteran contemporaries. It’s an EP that explores this forgotten space, this suspension of time and memory. And even though it’s too short and sometimes painful, this is a trip you’re going to want to take with him again and again." --WalrusTusk
6Ocean's Edge
The Voyager

"While the album may not be sing-along ready, the songwriting is interestingly organic, with wonky rhythms that sound natural. True prog lovers will enjoy these songs with endless sections and transitions, and keep flipping the pages. There is much to accomplish in order to be deemed a prog giant, but the fact this album exists in 2023 is good enough. This type of prog metal is slowly becoming a lost art, but there will always be a band like Ocean’s Edge unafraid to explore the past. It’s refreshing, and their effort deserves an audience. While The Voyager is no prog classic, the band’s chops may enable that feature in the future." --pizzamachine
7The Lemon Twigs
Everything Harmony

"Despite the few flaws this album has, it's near perfect and easily one of the best releases of 2023 so far. It's nostalgia-bait without feeling like bait. Its crisp and clean, yet deep and resonantly emotional. It's by far The Lemon Twigs' best album and it comes eerily close to being a perfect album and it's definitely one worth coming back to again and again like all those great classic albums in the 1970s. If you're not a fan of the twigs already, it might be time to hop aboard because the ride is worth it." --CanadianSpud
The Death We Seek

"The title track sets the tone with a crunching riff to open, followed by Brian Wille’s bellowing clean vocals “Serenity, always running from me.” We also see some of the skillful guitar explode throughout the song. Living In Tragedy’s interestingly combines synth-like touches which are somewhat reminiscent of Origin from their last album. Some of Wille’s deepest gutturals seen to date appear, along with another clean chorus." --metalhead
9Ed Sheeran

"Given how stripped-back, moody, and contemplative Subtract is trying to be, Ed Sheeran's fifth album is clearly supposed to be a more 'serious' venture. Acoustic guitars and pianos often take the place of synths and drum machines. The dirty, piss-yellow album cover is supposed to look stark and catch you off-guard. The lyrics (feebly) tackle themes of depression, dread, growing up, and melancholy. This is Ed Sheeran grabbing you by the lapels and demanding you take him seriously, but in a quiet and unassuming way that's more liable to put you to sleep than shake you to your core." --Ghostalgeist
Failed at Math(s)

"While the album is unfortunately short in length, it manages to say more in its 26 minute run-time than most albums say in 40+ minutes. Failed at Math(s) does what it was meant to do: build on what made Panchiko special in the first place while refusing to become stale or feel like it’s just trying to play it safe. It’s a celebration of their legacy and a milestone in online music culture and shows that, worry not, the boys have still got it all these years later. It certainly leaves the listener wanting more, which definitely serves as a testament of how interesting of a record they’ve crafted here; this is what a comeback project should aspire to be." --zenhead
11Slumbering Sun
The Ever-Living Fire

"Overall, Slumbering Sun makes a compelling first impression with The Ever-Living Fire. While the album may take an extra listen to wrap one’s head around it, I can appreciate how the group’s more emotional angle stays engaging throughout. It’s got enough light to keep from feeling too overbearing and the heaviness has an almost relaxing aura to it. A worthy atmospheric work whether you’re head-hanging along or just letting it wash over you." --PsychicChris
12Craven Faults

"Cyclic washes of analogue synths and lovingly crafted beat patterns come at you from all sides, recalling (according to the man himself) a “journey across northern Britain, viewed through the lens of a century in popular music”. I, personally, do not entirely hear how this recalls the past century in pop, but this thing surely confers a deliciously introspective state of mind. Is that entirely what he was after? I don’t know, nor do I care. I just press play, lay down in the wet heathland, staring into the grey overcast sky, and let it all wash over me." --Trifolium
13Stella Research Committee
Killed Alive

"Given that Killed Alive is their last album together, I will forgo the usual “this isn’t for everyone” pleasantries and caveats. If you even tangentially like noise rock, I would wholeheartedly recommend checking this. I said that the beginning that I don’t like having a sense of finality in my reviews these days, but I genuinely do wish these guys the best. Whatever they decide to do next, whether they split up into solo acts or announce they’re getting back together 10 seconds after I post this review, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled and my ears prepped." --SandwichBubble
14Horse Lords

"This band aims to surprise you with a sound that is quite universal and worldly. I would say they use at least one distinct musical reference from every possible country. Krautrock from Germany, typical 60s free jazz from the avant-garde scene in the United States, math rock with Japanese influences... Well, it's clear that they are open to everything, and their execution is fantastic, psychedelic, direct, brutal, progressive, and never stops." --Epetit
15Melanie Martinez

"With PORTALS, Martinez has put forward an effort full of promise and detail that is hopefully a signifier of evolution into a direction that I find not only subjectively more compelling, but that also adds much more objective value in both writing and production. Keeping your head above the waters of social causality is a difficult task, and the interwovenness of the world cannot be denied. There is no way to entirely seperate the two deeply connected ideas of art and artist. Yet, that should not stop us from employing critical analysis in an area where some might deem emotion the primary currency." --inevitabilitas
16Colin Stetson
When we were that what wept for the sea

"On this album, Stetson's storytelling seems to have peaked, with his instrumentation doing so much in terms of crafting a narrative and emotions to fit it, that even when the album's poem comes in near the end on "The Lighthouse V", it feels almost complimentary. Don't get me wrong, it's fantastic, but at this point, it almost feels as though it's tying the bow on the story we just witnessed, rather than explaining it all in one song. Because, simply, if you give this album enough attention, it doesn't need explaining. You just 𝒈𝒆𝒕 𝒊𝒕." --LegalGhost

"While this album is not the perfect niche that its predecessor was, it exceeds with its grandeur, creativity, progressive songwriting, and even in its instrumental technicality (and I am certainly including the vocals). What I loved about Grand Currents is still here–its chugging, hypnotic riffs, but now Nonetheless feels a lot more like a complete piece of art rather than the common-man’s headbanger-fest. The back-to-back success of Nonetheless and Grand Currents show that Hammerhedd are amongst the elite core of underground progressive groove metal bands, maybe even rivaling some of the greats." --WattPheasant
18Veil of Maya

"In the end, Veil of Maya accomplished the things that they were supposed to on [m]other and produced something that is technically a pass. It is not to say that their latest album fails to execute in creativity or does not have the ability to push its own boundaries. There are plenty of moments on this record that feel engaging and moving, but the majority of the sound feels written from a formula we already know works. I would have really enjoyed seeing Veil of Maya push these boundaries further as I’m sure there would have been some thrilling moments that we have yet to see from the band. I would not count this record out as I do believe it is worth a listen, but as we begin to approach the middle of the year, I worry that Veil of Maya will be overshadowed by other records that have already been, or will soon be, released." --Kyle1221
19The Amity Affliction
Not Without My Ghosts

"It can’t be understated how badly Amity needed to make an album like Not Without My Ghosts. They seemed to be running more and more out of steam with each successive LP after 2014’s mega hit Let the Ocean Take Me took them to new heights, losing fans they’ve worked tirelessly since 2003 to get. Going back to their more aggressive roots with a healthy sprinkling of their newer song textures was a genius move, one that should bring back many fans that gave up on them. These guys aren’t youngbloods anymore, but they’ve shown that they still got what it takes to make a kickass album that can stand tall and proud with their most beloved music." --SteakByrnes
20Sleep Token
Take Me Back to Eden

"Maximum enjoyment of Sleep Token has always largely hinged on whether you’re all-in on the concept; the emotional weight of these songs isn’t nearly as strong without the thematic context. With Take Me Back to Eden, however, they have improved nearly every aspect of their songwriting enough to negate the need for all the context in order to be powerful and unique. Eden makes previous albums sound like proof of concepts in comparison, and it’s a truly exciting effort that further cements Sleep Token as a force within the world of creative and original metal. If you weren’t a fan before this record and it still isn’t enough to sway you, you can at least enjoy the absolutely phenomenal drumming; like everything else on Eden, it’s better than ever before. It really feels like they are finding their sound, even if it’s likely to change again on future records." --Cuban Pete
21Frozen Soul
Glacial Domination

"Though never straying far from the formula, Frozen Soul's straightforward approach to songwriting is a breath of fresh air in the modern era. They take a more traditional path, where many of their counterparts offer little more than gratuitous technicality and "brutal" clichés. Their sound captures that to-the-point heaviness that a lot of recent bands don't offer, and although they tow the traditional line, they still leave room for innovation." --Rowhaus
Ancient Skills

"All 4 songs on the EP are very much worth listening to, but the closing track "Listening" is undoubtedly the EP highlight, where all the positive aspects of the band's sound are culminated into the 6 minutes and 15 seconds runtime. The song starts slow and quiet, with a nice little piano intro and clean guitars, and then proceeding to serve up the melodic djent that's plentiful on the rest of the album. Perhaps the pinnacle of this song is the unexpected use of a bağlama or saz halfway through the song, an instrument normally used in Turkish folk music. Its appearance on here is unexpected but it fits really well, and gives the EP a slightly folkish tone along with the aforementioned use of a nordic harp. It's a subtle but welcome addition to the band's sound that works in their favour, and hopefully they continue to add little flairs like this in the future." --cloakanddagger
23The Used
Toxic Positivity

"The Used have never been what one would call "consistent". The band will put out an absolutely wonderful track one day, and then put out an absolute slab of boring the next; the only exceptions to these for many people being the band's self-titled album and The Canyon, an album that may have gotten the band too over their heads with the "long album" concept leading to the absolute nadir of the band's career: Heartwork. Ranging from energetic fun to atrociously mediocre (along with an annoyingly confusing title, considering 2009's Artwork also exists and is one of the band's best), it seems the band were at a crossroads. Fortunately, they've taken the hint, and Toxic Positivity, for all of it's faults, is a nice step forward for the band." --valzentia

"notverynicecream,” despite its tonal shift, both elevates and cements Phoxjaw’s unique formula. The eccentric instrumentation of Royal Swan is both dialed up and diversified beautifully. Singer Daniel Garland’s vocals still ring reminiscent post-punk bands from yesteryear but as in the case in songs like “dancingtrees”, the band’s increased musical palette elevates their impact on each song. However, don’t mistake notverynicecream’s flirtation with more musical styles and an indication of the boys going more “indie” or soft. What makes “notverynicecream” succeed so well is that these newfound adornments spice up what is a soul-crushingly heavy record at heart, particularly in its latter half. It’s at these points where the darker themes of “notverynicecream” are most in focus." --Calc
Mirror to the Sky

"Right from the get-go the opening Cut from the Stars exudes a sense of confidence in its movement towards the resurrection of the past. An energetic union of orchestral and bass lines gracefully takes the listener beyond the celestial borders, wavering between swelling revolutions and shimmering breaks. The eponymous track is the album’s heart and the center of its gravity. Managing to sidestep all weaknesses present on the 2021 release, it comes off as well thought-out and smooth in its developments. Mirror to the Sky is practically instrumental, save for a few vocal sparks, yet is capable to grab the attention for the entirety of its 14 minutes. It presents an effective piece of rock symphony, flawlessly segueing between its several movements." --Batareziz
turn towards Pechora

"Somewhat similar to blizzard-sounding black ambient metal - whatever that means - of Paysage d'hiver and Vinterriket, on 'Turn towards Pechora' Vorgashore rises head and shoulders above the former in terms of emotion. Drowning abundantly present funeral melodies in walls of thick guitar noise, they immerse the listener into the cold river until he stops sensing his toes and fingers. The atmospheres are quite sparce, as monochrome as the cover photograph." --mystagogus
27The Dare
The Sex EP

"Horny white boys never had it so good." --Sinternet
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