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The original post

Posted by Doc Godin on 07.02.2008 at 02:27
I think every guest reviewer on the site has come across the same problem when they decide to submit there first review, we have all these ideas about discussing an album, but when we try and put it together we draw a blank when it comes to collecting our thoughts into a solid and fair review (hell, I still have problems with this). Having the FAQ by your side does help out a bit, but I wanted to create a thread where we can discuss tips and ideas for writing reviews, so anyone thinking of writing there first review can come to this thread if they need ideas on where to start, and us guest reviewers who already have a few reviews under there belts can learn a bit of improvement.

2 things to say before I start:
@ Staff: Your contribution to this thread would be the most useful.
@ Everybody else: This is not an excuse to take personal attacks at someone elses reviews I.E. "Don't write reviews like _____, his are shit" etc.

Ok, so I'll start (these are just things that I, personally, keep in mind while writing reviews, reading reviews, and reading feedback to my reviews)
-Before writing a review listen to it multiple times for a few days first, mull it over, perceptions can change after a few plays through.
-No album is 100% perfect, try and find something about the album that could've been left out or improved. And visa versa, try and find at least an enjoyable thing or two about a shitty album.
-For the love of god, explain your points, just so people with differing opinions can still find your review at least a little bit useful I.E. "....At times the vocals to be far to cheesey and over the top" not "the vocals become super lame", that way a person who may enjoy some over-the-top vocals will know perhaps that album is for him.
-Use personality (something I have trouble with at times) a little humour never hurt anyone, give people a reason to post something other than "I agree with your rating"

Ok, so those are just my ideas, I would like to hear some others....



Page 2 of 2

Dane Train
Beers & Kilts

Posts: 8894

Age: 30
From: USA

  21.03.2008 at 04:19
Written by Guest on 21.03.2008 at 04:10

See, that's the trouble. I'm already lost. Yeah, I know about notes, bass lines, 4/4 time, solos, and all that. But when it comes to understanding how it all fits together, I don't have a clue. I have my musical tastes and preferences. That's not enough to write a decent review. A song either sounds good to me, or it sounds lousy. Unfortunately, I am unable to articulate my listening experience in musically-sophisticated terms.


Kind of riding off that statement, I would say pick your reviews carefully. If you don't know anything about music theory, please!, don't review an album like Skullgrind. Likewise, if your someone like me, who has a deep knoweldge of music theory and composition, don't rip a Coal Chamber album apart for its lack of musical talent.
----
(space for rent)
Collin
Pura Vida

Posts: 7534

Age: 32
From: France

  21.03.2008 at 14:02
I know nothing about music theory, wiritng music, playing instruments or anything associated with a creative artistic process. I don't think it matters that much. I personally view music in terms of feelings more than expertise. So I write about what a particular album makes me feel, not about the actual composition of the songs. It can happen that even I notice how well-written a passage is or how talented a bunch of musicians are, but it doesn't really have an influence on my reviews.
Doc Godin
Just a guy

Posts: 9486

Age: 25
From: Canada

  22.03.2008 at 03:04
Written by Guest on 21.03.2008 at 04:10

Written by Doc Godin on 20.03.2008 at 23:10

Written by Syk on 20.03.2008 at 12:51

Written by Guest on 14.03.2008 at 21:05
As someone without musical training of any sort, I am hesitant to write reviews without first being able to comment intelligently on musicianship, production quality, composition, influences
About influences, you can simply say "it reminds me of _ [in the way that _]". Production is kind of easy, point out how audible all the instruments are and whether the clarity and overall sound are congruous with what you think is the album's intent. Musicianship, hmm... listen closely to the lead guitar in the album version of Seek & Destroy for an example of imperfect musicianship. A basic observation on composition may be the identification of repetition, which may be an indication of verse-chorus structuration. Tion.

composition may also be the chemistry the instruments have, for example, if a song has a stupid two note wonder bassline, a 4/4 beat with a blazing solo over top, thats not the greatest composition.

See, that's the trouble. I'm already lost. Yeah, I know about notes, bass lines, 4/4 time, solos, and all that. But when it comes to understanding how it all fits together, I don't have a clue. I have my musical tastes and preferences. That's not enough to write a decent review. A song either sounds good to me, or it sounds lousy. Unfortunately, I am unable to articulate my listening experience in musically-sophisticated terms.

I pretty much see it as this: if the music sounds like a big mess, or farrrr too simple or repetitive the composition is bad. Take Dragonforce for example, great musicians, but the music sounds like a big jumbly mess=bad composition. Thats my understanding of it.
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"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
Harmonic
Account deleted
  22.03.2008 at 04:36
Written by Doc Godin on 22.03.2008 at 03:04

...

I pretty much see it as this: if the music sounds like a big mess, or farrrr too simple or repetitive the composition is bad. Take Dragonforce for example, great musicians, but the music sounds like a big jumbly mess=bad composition. Thats my understanding of it.

Yeah, Dragonforce is a disaster; it's embarrassing to hear it.
Visioneerie
Urban Monster

Posts: 810

Age: 23
From: Canada

  11.08.2008 at 20:44
I've been reading quite a bit of suggestions over here, maybe it would have been smarter of me to inform myself beforehand of posting my first review which however i don't think is all that bad, but there's always room for improvement. Thanks to all you guys for laying down your ideas here, i'm sure it will serve me well when i get in the habit of writing reviews.

For those of you who haven't read the review of Hate Eternal's Fury & Flames, if you have time on your hands go check it out and comment, i haven't got any yet.
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Any man can stand adversity, but to test his character give him power - A. Lincoln
Doc Godin
Just a guy

Posts: 9486

Age: 25
From: Canada

  24.08.2008 at 08:52
Written by Collin on 21.03.2008 at 14:02

I know nothing about music theory, wiritng music, playing instruments or anything associated with a creative artistic process. I don't think it matters that much. I personally view music in terms of feelings more than expertise. So I write about what a particular album makes me feel, not about the actual composition of the songs. It can happen that even I notice how well-written a passage is or how talented a bunch of musicians are, but it doesn't really have an influence on my reviews.

Very true, I guess thats what makes having multiple reviewers a good thing, if you've been around here for long enough you can see certain reviewers writing styles and how they criticize an album, so depending on what you look for in an album, you can look at different peoples reviews.
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"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
Bas
Retired Staff

Posts: 5591

Age: 24
From: Switzerland

  01.09.2008 at 17:49
only having seen this thread just now i thought i'd throw in my two cents as well


i usually listen to cds every once in a while the two weejs before writing my review, and i already try to get some ideas what to write about it from my very first listen. like for example "oh, this sounds simialar to Faith No More" or "hey, this solo is awesome!" or "these voice samples are awful". most of the time when i then sit down in front of my pc i already know pretty much what my review will say.

sometimes i also have .txt files on my desktop in which i make notes about albums i'm going to review. these notes can contain things like "track 2 => great slap bass part" or "track 6 => boring filler" or "backing growls on tracks 3/7/9". then when i write my review i already have a lot of notes which i can fit together in the final result.

both of these methods work for me, they might work for some of you as well



and some other things:

---when i write a review i ALWAYS have [link]http://www.thefreedictionary.com[/link] open to check how certain words are written, or if i want to know synonyms that sound better or if i can't think of a very specific word but know simialar words, this site is great for any of those "problems"

---while writing my review i ALWAYS listen to the album while doing so. this helps me a lot, because obviously there are many things you think about when listening to music that you can simply forget about as soon as the CD's done!

---in my humble opinion it is not important for a reviewer to know a lot about music theory, the one thing that is way more important is that you can get your opinion across. the job of a reviewer is not to make an in-depth analysation of an album, but rather to explain in words how an album sounds.

---if you can't think about anything to write, give answers to some basic questions: "is this something new or has it been done before? has it been done before a thousand times already?" "in a direct comparison is this better or worse than simialar bands? why?" "what's the best thing about this album? what's the worst?" "how do the vocals/drums/keyboards/guitars/bass/flutes/violins/choirs etc sound?" "is there any filler on this album or is every song and every verse justified?" questions like that, you get the picture, also don't forget to give us some reasons along with your statement!


of course it's also a good idea to read some official reviews to get a few ideas
anyway i hope i was of some help to some of you
----
BAS - Beautifully Accented Sexiness
BitterCOld
OldBitterGringo

Posts: 12426

Age: 41
From: Paraguay

  08.05.2009 at 20:36
Bas had some great points. here are more - this is something i wrote up as someone who proofs your review that Jeff and I have been trying to figure out where to place. this will do for now.

So you want to write a guest review for MetalStorm?

As one of the staff responsible to proof reviews before they get published, I thought I'd post up some thoughts that would speed up the process so your piece doesn't spend an eternity in the queue awaiting our attention or bouncing around back and forth in a never ending game of editing ping pong.

For starters, before writing your review, please look over the FAQ. Know and understand the FAQ. Live the FAQ. Be the FAQ. If you submit a review without following these guidelines, well, FAQ you.

Additionally, if you are going to take the time to write something up, take the time to do it right.

Spell check it. Re-read it several times before hitting the submit button to make sure the grammar works. Make sure the format is good as well. We're not going to dictate a specific 1-3-1 paragraph essay format or anything - write it how you want to express yourself - but for the love of Pete (and the staff proofing your review), avoid the dreaded sentagraph, space your paragraphs out, etc.

Be realistic in your ratings. I realize most people are probably reviewing one of their favorite albums, but not every album is a 9.8. Don't be one of "those guys" that submits half a dozen reviews with every single one of them ranked 9 or higher…

Understand that you are not the only MS member who is submitting reviews. Taking the time to do it the right way will help ensure that it gets published the first time up. It will save both your time and that of the staff who proof your review.

If you submit a trainwreck of a review with twisted grammar and spelling casualties strewn all over the site of the accident, don't be surprised or upset if it gets rejected with a terse explanation to the effect of "l2grammar, noob."



From my perspective, if you make a mistake here or there, I'll fix it up, no problem, but I won't be spending 30 minutes performing GPR (the grammar equivalent of CPR) on your piece.

I recently allowed a piece with severe grammatical issues to be published - and MS posters mauled the thing. It's your name attached to it, take pride in your work, or brace yourself for some criticism.

There are folks on this site who I know do high quality work, and I'll flat out admit it than when I look at the queue and see something they've submitted, I'll review it immediately - even if it means leapfrogging 30 other reviews that were submitted days (or even weeks) earlier. Why? I know that proofing their review will be easy and take two minutes of my time before it gets approved and published. I really don't care if it's "fair" - it's their reward for the quality of their work.

Conversely, there are others whose works I avoid like a SARS infected lion with a frikking laser beam on it's brow run amok through my suburban neighborhood. Why? I know that opening the review to proof it will be about as pleasurable as having my innards removed by a disease-ridden, energy beam toting wild animal.

So take your time, do it right, or expect the reject... or perhaps a 400 pound carnivorous feline with high tech weaponry and highly infectious and communicable diseases knocking on your front door.
----
get the fuck off my lawn.
GT
Coffee!!

Posts: 5058

Age: 32
From: Denmark

  09.05.2009 at 18:08
@Bitter: now that was amusing...and true
----


Dreams are made so we don't get bored when we sleep
Baz Anderson

Posts: 13146

Age: 26
From: UK

  09.05.2009 at 18:31
You should post that has a blog and then we should link it to the submit review page.
Dane Train
Beers & Kilts

Posts: 8894

Age: 30
From: USA

  09.05.2009 at 20:08
I took your advice and just wrote a review. I hope Bitter doesn't give me a double beat down; one for writing a review and one for it being a Stryper review.
----
(space for rent)
BitterCOld
OldBitterGringo

Posts: 12426

Age: 41
From: Paraguay

  09.05.2009 at 21:16
Written by Baz Anderson on 09.05.2009 at 18:31

You should post that has a blog and then we should link it to the submit review page.


will do. as above, jeff and i had a few pm's about where to put it up, that sounded like the best option.
----
get the fuck off my lawn.
Doc Godin
Just a guy

Posts: 9486

Age: 25
From: Canada

  04.09.2009 at 12:22
Written by Syk on 07.02.2008 at 09:34

Hey Luke, did you take note of Nervy's there/their point?

I just noticed this part of your post...from over a year ago. Yes, you will notice I did finally learn my lesson on that one, I'm kind of embarrassed about some of my older reviews because of this problem.
----
"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
Perseverance
Account deleted
  13.08.2010 at 07:58
So my understanding.

Paragraph 1: Introduction, info on the band
Paragraph 2: Production, how the album sounds and how clear the instrumentation is
Paragraph 3: Interesting points in the music, originality, composition, ect.
Paragraph 4: Conclusion, Personal thoughts, ideas about the album.

Do I have a good idea of what's been said, or am I missing something?
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist

Posts: 18176
From: Canada

  13.08.2010 at 08:20
Written by Guest on 13.08.2010 at 07:58

Do I have a good idea of what's been said, or am I missing something?

There's no one way to write a review. Sure, sticking to those guidelines ensures the readers won't be taken for any surprising rides (and that your guest reviews will likely be more readily accepted by proofreaders), but at the same time you have to change up your style every once in a while.

For instance, I like sticking to that 4-paragraph format as it's a comfortable style for me. That being said, I also change it up once in a while (see: Solution .45 and Kolp) although they have varying degrees of success (and, on the contrary, opposing varying degrees of my personal satisfaction).

Of course you could also write under any variety of generic review formats - at the end of the day what matters is what you say and how you say it (at least to us proofreaders, most users only care about your rating).
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Prettier than BloodTears.
Perseverance
Account deleted
  13.08.2010 at 11:23
Quote:

There's no one way to write a review.

Understood, but my first review (as soon as I can find an album to review) will be in this format. But I will change it up if I continue reviewing.
ErnilEnNaur
Account deleted
  28.02.2011 at 21:20
A review can be as scathing or as praising as the reviewer wishes it to be, so long as he/she can back it up with solid arguments. The thing that bothers me about so many reviews is going off topic and talking about something completely irrelevant. It is not OK to talk about how you feel about say, Metallica for example, when your review is about a Megadeth album. It is OK to make comparisons, but simple statements like: this album's good (unlike Metallica's new piece of crap) are not.

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