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10.12.15 My Band Put Out Two Demos08.30.15 Rank Lambda's Top 10
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12.31.14 Lambda's 2014 12.13.14 Lambda's Favourite Songs Of 2014
10.15.14 Lambda's Top 50 Of The 00's07.16.14 2014 Quarterly Report #2
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11.23.13 A Beginner's Guide To Buckethead 11.12.13 2013 Quarterly Report #3
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2014 Quarterly Report #2

Only one day late this year: my 2nd quarterly report of 2014!
The Ways of Yore

Boring as hell. The truly awful chanted/spoken vocals by Varg do nothing to help matters. Furthermore, the decision to end the album with re-records of two songs from previous records is just lazy. I get that "To Hel and Back Again" is noticeably different from its predecessor, "Til Hel og tilbake igjen," but that song was just released on Fallen 3 years ago. Recycling such recent material just screams laziness to me- unless there's some big "concept" connecting the re-recorded songs to their predecessors (which I doubt). A few cool effects save The Ways of Yore from a 1... barely. 1.5
19The Used
Imaginary Enemy

A terrible record. "Cry" is catchy and "A Song to Stifle Imperial Progression" has its moments, but Imaginary Enemy consists mainly of disingenuous attempts at 'radio' songs with overblown choruses and hackneyed, done to death melodies. Some cliched 'political' lyrics only exacerbate the record's badness. "Generation Throwaway" is the worst song I've heard all year. 1.8
The Serpent and the Sphere

The first, and hopefully only, big disappointment of 2014. The Serpent and the Sphere is a tedious and mostly uneventful listen whose moments of occasional excellence only serve to highlight how good the record could have been had the band not surrounded them with such boring ones. The album is confusing structurally, and the lack of clean vocals is disappointing, as it robs the record of much dynamic potential. I suppose the three dull instrumental guitar cuts were meant to appease this, but that's just it: they're dull. The production is subpar too: the exclusively harsh vocals are hard to decipher. An enormous letdown. 2.3

The Great Mass was one of my favourite records of 2011, so naturally my expectations for Titan were pretty high. Unfortunately, in case you couldn't tell from my rating, the record did not live up to them. The problem isn't with the performances, which are (aside from a couple of subpar vocal moments) spot on, or the production, which is once again excellent. No: the issue is the songwriting. A lot of the tracks here are directionless and lack anything really distinctive, which causes the whole album to run together. There is no "Pyramid God" or "Oceans of Grey" this time around. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to point out any stand-out moments, because the only moments that stood out were those aforementioned vocal hiccups (such as the chanting on "Burn"). The almost total lack of clean vocals hurts the album too. Disappointing. 2.5
Kindly Bent to Free Us

Cynic bent their sound with kind intentions, and it freed us from any notions of their next album being great. Yeah, that was kind of forced. Whatever. The problem with this record is that it's like a nice breeze. It's not unpleasant to listen to, but nothing really happens for its duration. It just blows by... like a breeze (there's the connection). I can't say that this is a bad album, because it's not, but it's not a very captivating one either- and for a band as established as Cynic, that is pretty surprising. 2.8
A Voice Within

This album falls into the trap that a lot of modern prog metal does: it jams a bunch of not unpleasant but similar heavy riffs together song after song and does not differentiate enough between them, save small eclectic moments and touches which are forgotten about after the record ends. Furthermore, the album's marriage between djent and pop doesn't work for me- every time I try to hook on to the poppy melodies, the slow drumbeats and chugging guitars strip the energy away. Good production and performances, but the songwriting leaves a lot to be desired. 2.9
14Animals as Leaders
The Joy of Motion

So much great instrumental work, so few great songs. In fact, I wouldn't call any of the tracks on The Joy of Motion great. I love the production, the detail, and, as aforementioned, the performances, but the songwriting is just unsatisfying to me. The tracks seem to go in different directions without ever attributing to anything. As a result, the numerous fantastic sections are wasted in a hodgepodge of go nowhere riffage. 3.1

I went into this expecting to hate it, but it pleasantly surprised me. Though Crosses is too long and some of its lyrics are a bit hackneyed, overall it is a strong listen; it's catchy, well-produced, and Chino's vocals are extraordinary. I wish there was more screaming on the record, though (like the end of "Bitches Brew"). 3.4

Shelter sees Alcest dropping the black metal entirely from their sound and this results in a pleasant and enjoyable release, but one which is more one-dimensional than their previous work. It's got some absolutely fantastic songs ("Voix Sereines," "D?livrance") but it also has some underwhelming tracks, including one total dud ("Away"), and that aforementioned one-dimensionality is slightly disconcerting. 3.4
11Every Time I Die
From Parts Unknown

Great vocals from Keith Buckley, and I like the experimentation ("Moor," the piano on "El Dorado"). The energy and heaviness are awesome too. However, the songs tend to run together. 3.4
10Marissa Nadler

Great album concept, and the atmosphere matches it extremely well. Marissa's guitar playing is nicely emotive too, and the extra instrumentation- particularly on the record's first two tracks- is dead on. The production is superlative, with just the right amount of reverb on Marissa's voice and a good amount of space for everything to breathe. The issues with the record are that some of the songs are slightly dull, and that after the fantastic first two tracks the same heights are never reached for the album's remainder. Still, the strength of the performances and production and sheer earnestness of July are enough to warrant a recommendation. 3.6
Once More 'Round the Sun

Once More 'Round the Sun improves upon the more commercial formula that The Hunter went for by, ironically, being less commercial. Don't get me wrong- this is still a record with plenty of catchy, poppy moments, however there is more depth to these songs and they are (mostly) more interesting. Is this Mastodon's best work? No. Some of the production choices are questionable- the bass is very loud and the vocals too quiet- and some of the tracks ("Feast Your Eyes", "High Road," opener "Tread Lightly," closer "Diamond in the Witch House") don't do much for me. However, is Once More 'Round the Sun worth hearing? Yes; and, as aforementioned, it is an improvement on The Hunter. 3.6

While occasionally too slow and meandering for my taste ("Eyes Closed," "Sustain"), overall III is an impressive record. The standout tracks ("Can't Leave the Night", "Hedron") are fantastic, and the sheer amount of variety- from hip-hop beats on "Triangle" and "CS60" to the lounge jazz of "Differently, Still" to the infectiously appealing circus-esque pulse of "Since You Asked Kindly"- is admirable. It doesn't all work, but what does is very good. 3.7
Distant Satellites

The electronic drumming in the second half of the record doesn't totally work for me, and as a whole the record isn't as consistent as their best work, but nonetheless Distant Satellites is another great release from Anathema. The three parts of "The Lost Song" and the band-title track "Anathema" (which features some of Vincent's most impressive vocal work ever) are the highlights. The mix is very good too. Overall, Distant Satellites isn't at the top of Anathema's discography, but it's far from the bottom, and as it stands is a mostly worthwhile listen. 3.7
6Thee Silver Mount Zion
Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

The lo-fi production grew on me as the record played out, and I love the violins and female vocals. The male vocals are a bit much at times (the beginning of "What We Loved Was Not Enough") but on the whole, they work for me. There are some fantastic songs here- the aforementioned "What We Loved Was Not Not Enough" and "Take Away These Early Grave Blues" being two highlights. "Little Ones Run" is excellent as well. I don't care much for "Austerity Blues" though- it feels stretched out- and it's the longest track here. On the whole, however, this is a very successful release. 4.2
The Satanist

UPDATE: I just realized this was my 666th rating. That's amazing.
An excellent record, The Satanist shows that Behemoth have not slowed down despite their nearly five year hiatus. They are just as heavy, fast, and aggressive as ever, as songs like "Messe Noire," "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer," and the title track demonstrate, and the songwriting is fantastic throughout the record. This great songwriting is emphasized by equally great performances, especially from Nergal, who is in better vocal form here than I've ever heard him. My only complaint is that some of the tracks run together a bit- more experimentation, like the guitar solo on the aforementioned "Messe Noire" and the ambient/soft parts on the ironically titled "In the Absence ov Light," would be welcome and help this issue. Regardless though, The Satanist is a stellar record and well worth checking out. 4.2
4Death Grips
The Powers That B - Part I: Niggas On The Moon

I'm not sure what to make of this record- and I think that's exactly what Death Grips intended when creating it. I have admiration for the increasingly experimental direction the band is heading in, but at the same time prefer the Exmilitary and The Money Store-era to it. Some of these tracks lack anything that really grabs me. MC Ride is great here, though. And the production is excellent. And some of the tracks ("Have a Sad Cum," 'Fuck Me Out") are incredibly interesting. I have in the past praised Death Grips for never releasing the same record twice, and the trend continues here. Regardless of your opinion of their output, that trait alone is extremely admirable. 4.4
3Trophy Scars
Holy Vacants

I would not call Holy Vacants a perfect record. Due to their loose structures, a lot of the songs run together, like melted ice cream- it's still delicious, but it's hard to eat and better if it's solid. The drums are a bit loud in the mix as well. However, the uniqueness of the band's sound and fantastic musicianship are huge pluses, and I love the strings and other extra instrumentation. Overall, Holy Vacants is a superb record, but not a perfect one. 4.5
To Be Kind

I think I like this even more than The Seer. While that album succeeded more atmospherically, this one is more diverse- and in a two-hour plus album, diversity is welcome. "Bring the Sun / Toussaint L'Ouverture" is the only misstep- it's a little overlong. Regardless, To Be Kind is one of the best records of the year. 4.8
1Casualties of Cool
Casualties of Cool

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