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 What makes a good review? 
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Darth Fucking Vader
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Post What makes a good review?
So the Twisted Tower Dire review got a lot of shit on here for various reasons. We all saw that. But what is a good one then? Things that should be in a good review and examples if you can think of any. Who are the good reviewers and why?

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Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:33 pm
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Lifer, Deather, Hesher, Whatever.
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Trust, ultimately.

We all say it but the likes of Glasper, Chantler, Avi, Jose earn trust by knowing what they are talking about and being consistent. Terrorizer's problem/challenge is the constant churn in reviewers. Seeing some newbie telling you this is the best album ever doesn't work.

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Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:38 pm
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Lifer, Deather, Hesher, Whatever.
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Also, a good review is one that inspires me to check out an album I wouldn't have, or didn't know about i.e. Chantler's review of Doomsword's second album, or Jimmy Christ talking about Antigama.

The more I think about good ones, reminds me of how the majority are bad/average.

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Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:44 pm
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Whilst I'm not suggesting opinion should be completely removed, I think there should be some sort of Objective statement about the music on the album. (In fact it should just mention the music full stop, something the TTD review failed to do).
I think there should be something to hint as to the style of music present on the album.
And depending on word count, perhaps a comparison, ie if you like this band or if you like that album, you might like it. Though this point I wouldn't consider essential.
I think also mentioning if it's a long album, or a short album cause lets be honest, there's albums verging on 90 minutes, and albums verging on 25 also.

I'm sure there's more, but of the top of my head there's a few.

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Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:48 pm
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Lifer, Deather, Hesher, Whatever.
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Annihislater wrote:
I think also mentioning if it's a long album, or a short album cause lets be honest, there's albums verging on 90 minutes, and albums verging on 25 also.



or that there are no drums on a Sunn album. C'mon Robit or Richie, post that Tez letter again

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Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:59 pm
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Darth Fucking Vader
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Which letter was that? My stash of Tez's are back in Paddyland at the minute anyway.

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Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:36 pm
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Basically someone wrote in shortly after Tez gave Sunn AOTM complaining that in the whole long winded review not once did they mention that it had no drums, and nothing fucking happened. I think Richie typed it up on the old forum, it was definitely a joy to re-read.

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Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:12 pm
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
There should definitely be as much objective factual information as possible. Where a band's from, their musical background, what instruments are used, where it's recorded. Also a sense of the album's place in a wider cultural context, er, and what it sounds like and whether it's any good or not. With space to explain itself fully and argue a proper case. And most importantly be entertaining to read. I mean it's not rocket science.

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Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:51 pm
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Darth Fucking Vader
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Kaylee and Rosie wrote:
Basically someone wrote in shortly after Tez gave Sunn AOTM complaining that in the whole long winded review not once did they mention that it had no drums, and nothing fucking happened. I think Richie typed it up on the old forum, it was definitely a joy to re-read.


The guy/girl had a point. The reviews of Sunn albums have been nicely evocative but don't actually describe the music. One review mention an album being like "submerged in slowly moving lava" or somesuch, beyond giving the impression of a slow pace and heaviness (as in bassiness) this doesn't convey much. In the case of something like Sunn which is so abstract, those sorts of descriptions are necessary in a way they wouldn't be for a generic Thrash album for example.


Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:03 am
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
No mention of drugs or groupies. Save that for the kiddie sheets.

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Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:19 am
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
A good review should provide context (both in terms of the band and any genre it sits in's history and in line with anything else that's going on contemporary/scene-wise), objective statements highlighting the strengths and weaknesses, description of the style of music (including comparisons) and flesh out with discussion of some of the individual tracks (generally the stand-out ones).

A review doesn't have to be humorous, but a good writer will develop a style and character and this will eke through and display itself throughout the review and become entertaining (e.g. Guy Strachan was rarely whopping out the gags, but his reviews were informative and he had a strong narrative voice). If the reviewer loves something, if they're good, that passion for that album will shine through.

The mark should be in context and I'm glad T have gone to a flat 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 scoring system (no halfmarks). I'd say marking out of 10 you should rarely get a 10, but out of 5 the top mark should be more common.

It used to be within 180 words, with more for 'bigger' albums, but it looks like the word counts been slashed, which unfortunately leads to quantity not quality.


Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:23 am
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Darth Fucking Vader
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
All reviews should be like that average UK DM band who Tegs said had recorded "the best album in any genre ever", I'm glad I didn't buy that issue.


Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:33 am
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
The Helms Alee review this month sounded like they were saying it's good not great yet they gave it 4. Surely 4 would indicate very good and close to brilliance. I suppose in this internet age we can just hear the album streaming and form our own opinion anyway.


Wed Jul 27, 2011 2:45 pm
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Chris Chantler wrote:
There should definitely be as much objective factual information as possible. Where a band's from, their musical background, what instruments are used, where it's recorded. Also a sense of the album's place in a wider cultural context, er, and what it sounds like and whether it's any good or not. With space to explain itself fully and argue a proper case. And most importantly be entertaining to read. I mean it's not rocket science.

See, I disagree. Twenty years ago, maybe you'd be right, but with the Internet, you can easily find out yourself all that background info in five seconds if you really want to. A good review should tell you what the album sounds like, and whether it's any good - and that, as K&R said, comes down to whether you trust the reviewer, which comes through them showing that they know their stuff.

I think reviews should be entertaining too, because reading (and especially writing) about the 2734th band that rip off 'Transilvanian Hunger' is pretty dull, so you need to find an entertaining way to say "this is a bit dull."

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Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:53 pm
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Darth Fucking Vader
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Kaylee & Rosie wrote:
or that there are no drums on a Sunn album. C'mon Robit or Richie, post that Tez letter again


I remember reading that letter in Tez, but I've never posted it on here, sorry. I could probably do the Baby, Disco Is Fuck lyrics again if you want.


Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:14 pm
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Darth Fucking Vader
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Carnacki wrote:
All reviews should be like that average UK DM band who Tegs said had recorded "the best album in any genre ever", I'm glad I didn't buy that issue.


Mithras - Worlds Beyond The Veil. Now THIS is something I can help with:

"There is an old adage that goes: the best things come to those who wait. As a narrative to the climate of UK death metal internationally, it's a perfect way to describe the last decade at least. Yeah, sure we have produced bands like Benediction and Bolt Thrower and of course, Desecration.

Now the UK is producing acts that seriously threaten the Yanks' and Swedes' domination. Bands such as Akercocke with their blackened death; Gorerotted, yeah okay, they're more goregrind; the superb technically progressive darkness of Detrimentum and many others now clawing their way up.

Then there is Mithras.

With their second album, they have just delivered probably the best release of any artist in the UK, of any genre of music - ever.

With 'Worlds Beyond the Veil', Mithras have conquered not just death metal's throne but all of metal's as well.

Bold words? I suspect there will be some shaking heads in disapproval, but witness it's sheer power, gargantuan scale, and the mind-melting sounds and you'll be scraping yourself up off the floor afterwards in shocked awe and you will testify.

If the basis of music is to move, connect and emote the listener, then "Worlds..." does exactly that. And then some. This album is emotional depth charge of sheer concussion, literally draining you as slab after slab of sound crashes in on you with such compositional daring and flare rarely seen in the genre. The rush starts fomr the feet and consumes you in searing waves of adrenalin charged electricity leaving you covered with goosebumps.

Where death metal has this dark, furrowing feeling in its sound, weight and punishment, Mithras takes you where the sky meets the mountains; it's vast and timeless in effect - check out the instrumental "The Sands of Time".

The guitars are gonna be the main talking point; they mirror some mythological behemoth in scale. Death metal as a style has never sounded so, well, HUGE. Mithras back that sound with intent and substance. How? After the chasmic atmosphere of "Portal to the..." your ears melt at the unbelievable drum speed as the fastest double bass blast I have ever heard propels the title track - you have to listen agin just to catch it all. It's like looking into a tornado, you need time to get your head round the blast to see all, and it's topped off with god-like death vocals.

[...and then some track by track discussion...]

Mithras have single-handedly brought a new dimension and conciousness not just to death metal but to extreme music as a whole. "Worlds Beyond the Veil" is an album not just of its time but one for the ages, and Mithras will rise in the annals of music alongside such names as Sabbath or Maiden, or Metallica circa 'Master of Puppets', or Morbid Angel for the sheer far reaching influence their music brings to the world.

Mithras have not just re-defined death metal or even, the wider world of extreme metal, they have marked in the fabric of time an essence which will go before all as a totem to how powerful, individual and life affirming the feeling of our music is.

I've said it before and I will say it again: this is beyond. In fact this is beyond the ability of most bands. Not just for now but for evermore."


Yeah.


Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:20 pm
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Good grief. It's astonishing that ever got published. There's all sorts of things wrong with the way it's written, never mind what it's saying.

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Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:26 pm
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Started reading The Wire more now that T is at a low ebb, their reviews are actually pretty excellent. Sometimes a little dry and academic, but not (as you might reasonably expect) arty or farty particularly, even when the music is. They are factual, they provide context without either waffling or condescending to the reader, while simultaneously expecting the reader to know basically what they are talking about (which is a sign of respecting your audience).


Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:36 pm
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Darth Fucking Vader
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
The Wire's kinda hard o the eye, don't you find, Clint? All stark and uninviting. I find that very off-putting. It sounds like a small thing to be griping aboit, but I like my music press to have an imaginative bent. Not all clinical and unfeeling like that. It makes it feel too arty and horn-rimmed glasses-y I think.

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Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:50 pm
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Post Re: What makes a good review?
Ed Blackadder wrote:
Twenty years ago, maybe you'd be right, but with the Internet, you can easily find out yourself all that background info in five seconds if you really want to.


An overview of basic facts is important in building up a picture of a band who might be new to you. Where they're from, what instruments are used and how many are in the band are all relevant to what it sounds like. Obviously not every review needs to list full instrumentation and studio info, but if there's something in that info that helps the reader understand what the album's like then it's important, and I'd rather have it than not. I'm deeply suspicious of this "if you really want to know something that badly you'll Google it" mentality, like that absolves everyone of the obligation to inform.

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