Ramblings of a Rabid Reviewer.


Written by: Marcel Hubregtse
Published: 12.05.2007


This is my first MS-blog of hopefully many more to come.

Why is it that nowadays even reviewers hide behind nicknames? Has it do with the anonimity of the Internet where people are somehow afraid to use their real name on forums? Okay, I know that I started posting in the forum here on Metal Storm as Ozman, so is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Mmm, I don't think so really, because I changed the Ozman nick to my real name after a couple of reviews. I think it is more honest towards the the artists who have put a lot of effort in their recordings that their work is reviewed by a person of flesh and blood and not just an abstract name. Because does an Internet nickname reflect the reviewer's personality? Nope, I don't think so, but then again neither does the person's real name. For that name is also only given on a whim and born into. But at least the artist can track down the person behind the name if they have any reason to.
Employing the nick Ozman I felt I could hide behind it and be different from the person who I really am if there ever was a need to. But having picked up reviewing after a lay-off of about 14 years I felt it necessary to go back to my own name for that would be more honest towards the bands and also towards the people reading the reviews.
Reviewing, what does it entail? I hear many a person ask. To put it bluntly, nothing much, you sit down listen to the cd or whatever and give your honest objective opinion on it. But is it really that simple? Mmm, not really... for first of all objectivity does not exist and will never exist. Reviewing something from scratch is also nigh to impossible for I for one always want some kind of frame of reference, where is a band coming from in comparison to their earlier work. And if it is a debut: how does band compare to other bands in the same genre? Am I hindered or helped by my broad taste in metal while reviewing? Questions, questions. Are there quick and easy answers to those questions? Maybe my mind works in mysterious ways... but NO there are no quick and easy answers. Take for exqample a broad taste in metal... it can hinder the reviewing for you won't limit yourself to just one genre and therefore will not have heard everything or near to everything in that genre thus holding you back in coparison to peers of the the reviewed band. But having a broad taste can also help you in spotting references in the music which originate from other genres.
So after having established the history of the band, their musical inspirations and references and how the latest work compares to their own back catalogue and to that of their peers within the subgenre and genre at large comes the really hard part... what bleeding rating to give the album?
And this aspect I find even harder. Okay so there are some more or less objective criteria you can judge an album by you owuld think. One of them being production I hear some of you opt. Nope... a crispy clear production with some nice heavy touches might objectively be a good production. But, and this is a very big but such a production not and will never work for bands such as Darkthrone, Xasthur, Leviathan etc. Their music works better with a very grainy almost minimal sort of production whereas that sort of production will have you run away screaming when it is used on a Dream Theater album.
So, as you can see from this simple example.... objectivity is far and away here too, for it also has to do with personal preferences. Even an overal rating is obscured by how one views a band and their work of art and if one knwos the band members personally or if one wants to promote a certain scene.
I for one am almost a bit biased towards thrash, death and doom bands, and especially if they are from The Netherlands. So, if you see a review by me of such a bandd from The Netherlands I think it would be safe to subtract about half a point to get a fairer (more objective?) view of the album.


This about wraps up my ramblings for today.

Don't be shy to comment objectively, subjectively, or flame me on these raving rabid ramblings.
Or pm me with something you want to knwo more about and would want to read about in a future blog of mine.


Cheerz,
Marcel



 


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 46   Visited by: 214 users
16.05.2007 - 22:53
Lucas
Mr. Noise
He didn't say what that it is crappy. Others say it.

@jupitreas, you surely make a good point. Appropriate is the right word.
----
SLUDGE. DOOM. DEATH. Wait, what?

"The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen." - Barack Obama
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17.05.2007 - 12:56
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
At everyone... I didn't call the darkthrone, Xasthur, Leviathan production crappy... (like Nervel also said)
I actually called it a very grainy almost minimal sort of production
----
Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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18.05.2007 - 07:56
Jason W.
Razorbliss
I must admit, I'm kind of disappointed at the misinterpretations some people have about your comments in the production areas of music, it makes total sense to me.

Regarding your use of your own name, personally, I would do the same as yourself, because I think the internet can create too much of a feeling of distance as it is. Any way to cut down the anonymity is the best route, particularly when it comes to things that are as integral to a band's career as reviews on a major website such as MS. Outside of concerns of personal security, using one's real name (and at least a picture available) would be more than enough if I were reading a review of my own work

I also think bias in review is not only respectable, but (for me) desirable to a point. If a get to know a reviewer's taste very well and I know I usually like his/her taste in music, then I know that I can gamble and buy some music I'm unfamiliar with just based on their words. If someone is too objective/neutral, it's sometimes difficult to know if I personally will like the music (s)he gives high marks to. The same goes for movie reviews as well: I can tell if I'll like a movie based on the few reviewers I follow because I know their bias and I like it! (or conversely - hate it!)
----
"After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley
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13.07.2007 - 03:00
BitterCOld
Gringo
Good long ramble there. I do want to try my hand at more reviews - it's just that i need to carve out the time to do some. I do take them seriously and want to do as thorough a job as possible, which requires a familiarity with the artist and music in question. Sometimes my first impression of an album is far from my lasting one.

As for names - frankly, I want to retain a great bit of anonymity on the internet in pretty much every forum I post on. This one is no different. As a bitter old man with caustic opinions, the last thing I want is my wife finding crap in the mailbox or whatever for inflammatory remarks I make here.

Exemptions exist the case of individual posters whom I connect with.

In the case of reviews, I would maintain my MS moniker for the public listing. If a band member or the label of the reviewed piece were to attempt to contact me directly through my MS profile, or via MS Staff, I would be willing to introduce myself on a more personal level - regardless as to whether the artist approves or disagrees heartily with my remarks.

In the case of interviews, I have only done one - an email interview (thanks again for those that helped set it up) - and given the format I just submitted questions. In retrospect, I wish I had included both my real name and MS chop in the introductory portion of the Q&A. Going forward, I will be sure to do so.

Essentially, what it boils down to is that in any contact directly from the artist/label, I am definitely highly in favor of pushing the human level of contact to as close to real as it can get.

In the case of dealing with you sick, twisted miscreants, I wish to remain at arms length. Or further.
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get the fuck off my lawn.
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22.06.2008 - 15:57
Spyroid
Rosetta Stoned
I'm to lazy to read through all the post, and I see somebody has already commented about the production ratings. But I instantly came to think of this - when rating production, it's not about a scale of perfection, and rating it after how crystal clear it is, right?
When I rate productions I only think of how 'good' it is - in an 'objective' way. Darkthrone's production is of course good if you like that kind of metal! So I don't see what's extra hard when it comes to rating productions, I simply rate it after how good it works on that specific album.

Otherwise nice reading, your language is great (which it should be, thinking of your job , and I agree with you on most points.

7.8/10
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06.07.2008 - 01:36
Markku
Account deleted
Aye, reviewers, here's something to discuss.

My stance towards certain albums has changed and will most probably continue to do so in time, I doubt I'm unique so this probably applies to you too. The music I cherish the most has been lying dormant in my computer/on the shelf for some time before I have "discovered" their excellence. I've, at first, even disliked the music.

So, when is the right time to review an album? After the first listen, after ten consecutive spins on the player or after letting it sink, say a couple of months first hearing it. And it must be a a rather unpleasant feeling to discover that you destroyed an album in your review which you apparently like now.

Do tell me if I'm the only to encounter the described phenomena, I'll delete this post if it is so.
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06.07.2008 - 23:14
Lucas
Mr. Noise
Written by Guest on 06.07.2008 at 01:36

Aye, reviewers, here's something to discuss.

My stance towards certain albums has changed and will most probably continue to do so in time, I doubt I'm unique so this probably applies to you too. The music I cherish the most has been lying dormant in my computer/on the shelf for some time before I have "discovered" their excellence. I've, at first, even disliked the music.

So, when is the right time to review an album? After the first listen, after ten consecutive spins on the player or after letting it sink, say a couple of months first hearing it. And it must be a a rather unpleasant feeling to discover that you destroyed an album in your review which you apparently like now.

Do tell me if I'm the only to encounter the described phenomena, I'll delete this post if it is so.


You ask about the right time to review an album. I think that you cannot bluntly say "x weeks", or "x days", as that is different for each album.

Some albums need to sink in, very true, but in 99% of the cases I know that already with the first spin. You do not yet have the feeling of "totally awesome", but you do realize this is something unique (as "sink" albums usually are unique in a sense) and has something going on. Then it's just a matter of waiting till it reveals itself, of course through multiple listens.

Some albums are just music. Nothing more nothing less. That doesn't say anything about the quality. But you just hear what the musicians do, and you are almost immediately able to tell if you like it or not.

I have changed my opinion about a couple of albums, but usually not much. I haven't encountered the total (dis)like for an album you used to love(/hate), yet. If I will, I guess I will see what my review says about them. Perhaps I'll be able to make a few minor changes, as sound descriptions stay the same, or I'll write another review. (Though I don't know what MetalStorm's policy is about writing two reviews for the same album.) If I can't do that, I'll probably delete the first one and just write a long new one, in which I state my initial love for the album, and why I changed my mind.
----
SLUDGE. DOOM. DEATH. Wait, what?

"The reason I'm running for president is because I can't be Bruce Springsteen." - Barack Obama
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07.07.2008 - 02:00
jupitreas
hi-fi / lo-life
No need to delete your old review if you change your mind. A review is a subjective view of a music listener. The only thing that sets the professional reviewer apart from any other music listener is that he should be able to back up his claims with some kind of rational argument. Otherwise, the review is posted at a particular date and particularly with new albums, it is obvious that the reviewer didnt have a very long time to completely digest everything that a record has to offer. If my mind about an album changes after a while, I'd just add an addendum to the existing review. This is not unprofessional. It reveals the reviewers voice and identifies him as a human being, instead of some sort of superhuman arbiter of taste.
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16.09.2008 - 18:46
Southern Wind
Account deleted
Written by jupitreas on 07.07.2008 at 02:00

No need to delete your old review if you change your mind. A review is a subjective view of a music listener. The only thing that sets the professional reviewer apart from any other music listener is that he should be able to back up his claims with some kind of rational argument. Otherwise, the review is posted at a particular date and particularly with new albums, it is obvious that the reviewer didnt have a very long time to completely digest everything that a record has to offer. If my mind about an album changes after a while, I'd just add an addendum to the existing review. This is not unprofessional. It reveals the reviewers voice and identifies him as a human being, instead of some sort of superhuman arbiter of taste.


But you had deleted reviews yourself! doesn't the ghost of that hypocrisy's self-titled torment your nights?
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17.09.2008 - 19:44
jupitreas
hi-fi / lo-life
Yeah, I did delete that one review (actually, I didnt upload it after it got lost in an MS update).
So what? I make mistakes and fail to practice what I preach sometimes. Here's to being human!
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04.10.2008 - 01:54
Stuart
MiseryKing
Written by jupitreas on 17.09.2008 at 19:44

Yeah, I did delete that one review (actually, I didnt upload it after it got lost in an MS update).
So what? I make mistakes and fail to practice what I preach sometimes. Here's to being human!

No! Being human is totally unacceptable!
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12.01.2009 - 21:37
Slayer666
Written by Lucas on 06.07.2008 at 23:14

Written by Guest on 06.07.2008 at 01:36

Aye, reviewers, here's something to discuss.

My stance towards certain albums has changed and will most probably continue to do so in time, I doubt I'm unique so this probably applies to you too. The music I cherish the most has been lying dormant in my computer/on the shelf for some time before I have "discovered" their excellence. I've, at first, even disliked the music.

So, when is the right time to review an album? After the first listen, after ten consecutive spins on the player or after letting it sink, say a couple of months first hearing it. And it must be a a rather unpleasant feeling to discover that you destroyed an album in your review which you apparently like now.

Do tell me if I'm the only to encounter the described phenomena, I'll delete this post if it is so.


You ask about the right time to review an album. I think that you cannot bluntly say "x weeks", or "x days", as that is different for each album.

Some albums need to sink in, very true, but in 99% of the cases I know that already with the first spin. You do not yet have the feeling of "totally awesome", but you do realize this is something unique (as "sink" albums usually are unique in a sense) and has something going on. Then it's just a matter of waiting till it reveals itself, of course through multiple listens.

Some albums are just music. Nothing more nothing less. That doesn't say anything about the quality. But you just hear what the musicians do, and you are almost immediately able to tell if you like it or not.

I have changed my opinion about a couple of albums, but usually not much. I haven't encountered the total (dis)like for an album you used to love(/hate), yet. If I will, I guess I will see what my review says about them. Perhaps I'll be able to make a few minor changes, as sound descriptions stay the same, or I'll write another review. (Though I don't know what MetalStorm's policy is about writing two reviews for the same album.) If I can't do that, I'll probably delete the first one and just write a long new one, in which I state my initial love for the album, and why I changed my mind.

So very true. I only changed my opinion once. I think it was some Gorgoroth's stuff. Few listens after the initial "Oh, my God, this is so dark and brutal I LOVE IT!!!!" I realised that it's actually just some way too noisy crap that had really nothing to offer besides the "guitar grind". I wrote a review on one Blind Guardian's album with only one listen and it was more than enough. You still didn't proofread the thing though. I'm writing this at 12th of January.
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19.01.2009 - 09:44
JayEstonio
Account deleted
Before I rate an album, I search for the band's information. I then check other people's reviews
and opinions. Some songs for me are growers, and a few are catchy but I've learned one thing - opinions change
from time to time. I hated so many albums at first but then ended up digging every single one of
them. I also liked many albums when I listened to them for the first time but later on, I gave them away to
my friends.

To review is different from wanting to like or wanting to hate something. It is really difficult
to rate an album objectively. The way you review things will depend on your personality, your
background and the last ingredient - your current state of mind.

The state of mind is a huge factor, if you are either listening or
making music. So, the right thing to do is find the review you made which you
consider your best and try to remember how(notice, I didn't use "what")
you were thinking back then. Now, that is the most difficult part.
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20.01.2009 - 02:48
Warman
Erotic Stains
Written by Doc Godin on 15.05.2007 at 05:13

I can see where your coming from on the reviews type thing. Luckily I only review old albums and Im not staff, but if I was to ever become a staff member doing reviews Id probably follow your example, very honorable not hiding behind a nickname.

I think I have to agree with you here.
And it really would be a pain if everyone here had their real name as a username. It's much easier remembering a username and just imagine how many of us that must have the same name as another person?


"I agree with John on this topic".

*5 minutes later: A new notification!*

Steve quoted your message here:

Quote:
"I agree with John on this topic".

Which John are you talking about?

Quote:

Quote:
"I agree with John on this topic".

Which John are you talking about?

John F.
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20.01.2009 - 03:05
Doc Godin
Obnoxious
Written by Warman on 20.01.2009 at 02:48

Written by Doc Godin on 15.05.2007 at 05:13

I can see where your coming from on the reviews type thing. Luckily I only review old albums and Im not staff, but if I was to ever become a staff member doing reviews Id probably follow your example, very honorable not hiding behind a nickname.

I think I have to agree with you here.
And it really would be a pain if everyone here had their real name as a username. It's much easier remembering a username and just imagine how many of us that must have the same name as another person?

After more thought on the subject (you quoted me on quite an old post) I would probably keep my username for a number of reasons:
1. The reason you stated (hell even Lucas' name is fairly close to mine, people might get mixed up right off the bat)
2. I don't feel comfortable putting up too much information about myself to an open audience on the internet, it sounds paranoid (and maybe it is), but I don't feel comfortable with just anybody having access to my first and last name. The internet being such an open place I have no idea how far they can get on my name (possibly spam, people who take personal offence to my reviews and happen to live near by, psychotic ex-girlfriends etc.). Long story short I'd like to have some control over these types of things.
3. Identification, its a hell of a lot easier to remember someone by a brief memorable nickname than first and last name. Kind of the whole purpose of a nickname.
4. Once again, if I was ever to become staff, I would not write a meaningless bash-fest of a review that actually required a band to speak with me personally, and if that were the case I'd be happy to give out my name under controlled circumstances.
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"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
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20.01.2009 - 03:09
Warman
Erotic Stains
Written by Doc Godin on 20.01.2009 at 03:05

After more thought on the subject (you quoted me on quite an old post) I would probably keep my username for a number of reasons:
1. The reason you stated (hell even Lucas' name is fairly close to mine, people might get mixed up right off the bat)
2. I don't feel comfortable putting up too much information about myself to an open audience on the internet, it sounds paranoid (and maybe it is), but I don't feel comfortable with just anybody having access to my first and last name. The internet being such an open place I have no idea how far they can get on my name (possibly spam, people who take personal offence to my reviews and happen to live near by, psychotic ex-girlfriends etc.). Long story short I'd like to have some control over these types of things.
3. Identification, its a hell of a lot easier to remember someone by a brief memorable nickname than first and last name. Kind of the whole purpose of a nickname.
4. Once again, if I was ever to become staff, I would not write a meaningless bash-fest of a review that actually required a band to speak with me personally, and if that were the case I'd be happy to give out my name under controlled circumstances.

Hahaha, I think I have to agree with you yet again.
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