A very thoughtful review of Nightwish’s new album, Dark Passion Play, got posted today at PopMatters. I’ve given this one a few listens, enough to form a brief opinion about it, but I’ll save most of my thoughts for a proper review. In short, I pretty much agree with the PopMatters review. What this all brings to mind is something of a tangent: why are there so few metal review sites that are worth a damn? Anytime I read a review at Metal Observer, Metal Storm, or any of those sites, I never feel like I’ve come away feeling like I know whether or not the given album is any good. Part of that is uneven or downright bad writing; part of it is that all of these sites seem to give positive reviews to practically everything.
For the record, there are a few metal sites that I find quite valuable, but few of these really keep up with new releases on a regular basis: Satan Stole My Teddybear and The Dark Legions Archive both boast good writing, intelligent musical commentary, and useful critical viewpoints, and Encyclopedia Metallum has a ton of user-written reviews that are actually of generally good quality. The upstart avantgarde-metal.com looks interesting, but so far the quality of writing is very uneven. Outside of those, I haven’t found too much, especially in terms of sites that are willing to review the more extreme forms of metal (very few of them, even those that write about death and black metal, seem to do much in the way of grindcore and the various death/grind hybrids out there). Any suggestions?