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~Guest 1043649
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:26 am
Posts: 2
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 2:59 pm 
 

Hello, I am Anus_Canis (you can refer to me as Ethan, if you wish), and I have been writing reviews on this site for about three months now, and I am wondering how I can improve the quality of my reviews. I feel like I’ve been falling into a pattern for each of my reviews, and because of that, I feel that I am remaining stagnant. I feel like I’m not moving forward with the quality of my reviews, and because of that, I feel that the quality of my reviews has been dull, and thus not leaving a stronger impact on my readers. So with that being said, how could I improve the quality of my reviews so that I could move forward as an active reviewer on this site?

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Derigin
The Mountain Man

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2006 6:25 am
Posts: 5859
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 3:46 pm 
 

Forewarning to those who want to help him out and give him feedback: be nice.
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Slater922
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:24 pm
Posts: 833
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 4:12 pm 
 

Hey AC. Welcome to the forums. I'm Slater922, and I'm one of the more experienced reviewers on this site (though not as experienced as hells_unicorn or autothrall). I've seen some of your reviews, and while they're not the best, I do see some potential in some of your reviews. Here are a few tips I have that would help improve your future reviews.

    Avoid using cringy slang: I've seen a couple of your reviews use slang terms. Like in your "Altered States of America" review, you used the word "yeet" in the title. If you're using it as an ironic joke, that's fine, but using them unironically makes the review feel less professional and more immature.

    Go into more details about the music: This is more of a subjective taste, but for some reviews, you go for a more basic look when it comes to talking about the music. You talk about how "Spiritual Healing" changed your view on death metal, but you don't exactly go into more details about what was it on the album that made you think so. I'm not saying you should describe every single second of the album, but more details in the musical descriptions would be nice.

    Try to expand your catalog: By that, I mean experiment in different genres and check out some relatively unknown territory. It's fine to be into death and thrash metal, but there are other genres that have so many other bands that you can check out. I personally also step out of my death/black metal zone occasionally to review some other genres. While it's more optional, I'd be really interested to see your takes on other metal bands.

And those are the three tips I have for you. Now I'm sure you've seen some rather "interesting" opinions on you on this forum, but in the end, us Review Discussion users are here to help each other out in our own reviews. If you're not gonna take my tips, that's fine, but using one of them could help your reviews out in the long run.
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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:58 pm
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Location: Where the dead rule the night
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 4:18 pm 
 

Man, just keep writing, there's only so much any of us can tell you at the end of the day. If you're serious about writing then only practice and time will do it. MA is a good resource but it's no sin to have some bad reviews early on. Nobody starts off perfect. Just keep listening to stuff and writing and eventually you should be able to improve.
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robotiq
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:08 am
Posts: 46
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 4:22 pm 
 

I liked the Funebre review. That is a challenging album, so it is good to see people giving it a go.
In terms of improvement, there was a bit too much repetition in there. For instance, you don't need to mention Purtenance and Morpheus Descends three times, and the bold-type on those album titles just highlights the repetition. Also, be careful about using the same adjective too often ('eargasm' in this case)

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BastardHead
Worse than Stalin

Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2005 7:53 pm
Posts: 10283
Location: Oswego, Illinois
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 1:10 am 
 

Slater922 wrote:
I'm Slater922, and I'm one of the more experienced reviewers on this site


lol tap the fuckin' brakes kiddo, you've only got ten more reviews than he does.


For some real advice, I'm gonna knock out a bunch of it right out of the gate by quoting a post I made a while back about one of your reviews that was brought up in the main discussion thread:

BastardHead wrote:
...it's really not a good look to go cranking out reviews on the same day you hear something for the first time, especially when it's for an extremely high or low score. I place less value in scoring than most of the regulars but if you're going to give something a minimum or maximum score after one listen then nine times out of ten you either don't really know a whole lot about the genre or your convictions are weak as hell.

And he's a decent enough writer, better than some of the noobs we get, but he has a ton of room to improve. Look at this bit:

That review wrote:
Although I don't tend to like drum programming since it is as lifeless as Atheist's Jupiter, it was actually convincing enough for me to believe that an actual person did that, thus completely defying my expectations. I honestly don't understand why brutal death metal bands tend to use drum programs instead of an actual drummer (perhaps because no person can play the complicated beats of a drum program), but in this album, it was convincing enough for me to believe that an actual person did that, so I definitely wouldn't complain. It sounds as animalistic as the guitars and the vocals, just as I would expect from BDM drums (person or program). Overall, although I'm not a fan of drum programs, the programming on this album was convincing enough for me to believe that an actual person did that.


This paragraph is absolute garbage. Beyond simply trying to shoehorn in a reference to an album he reviewed a few days ago accidentally creating a really bizarre implication that Atheist's drums couldn't be played by a human (that's not what he means but the sentence is so sloppy that he winds up implying it), he uses the phrase "it was actually convincing enough for me to believe that an actual person did that" three times in four sentences. Holy shit that shouldn't pass even a lazy proofread. Instead of building on his point or giving examples in either direction or something, he just says the same thing several times in a row with remarkably similar wording and at the end of the day I know nothing about the drum performance except it was actually convincing enough for him to believe that an actual person did it.

I didn't quote the first bit of that paragraph but he starts it with one of my personal pet peeves: offhandedly mentioning that you can't hear the bass (which he also does in the conclusion, because he's terrible about repeating himself). This is a telltale sign of somebody just starting out who feels like they have to comment on every single instrument even if there's nothing to say or (more likely) they just don't really understand what each instrument is doing. I think it was Napero who said something along the lines of "If a reviewer mentions not being able to hear the bass, 99% of the time they just don't know what a bass sounds like", and that's something I've found to be true. Bass follows the guitar most of the time in metal but trust me, you can hear it almost all the time. It can easily get lost in the mix but it has a completely different timbre than that of a guitar and all you have to do is just... pay attention? Why so many people miss this is beyond me, even more mystifying are cases like this where the bass is likely just following the guitar so people default to the bass being inaudible when really it's just... ya know, playing root notes. Pro tip: if the bass isn't doing anything interesting, just don't bring it up! You absolutely do not have to out yourself as somebody who doesn't know what to listen for by saying it's inaudible.

tl;dr - AC is a noob and that's totally okay and I encourage him to keep growing, but he has a lot of room to improve and when I say he's gonna look back in a few years and cringe at his early stuff, this kind of stuff is exactly what I'm talking about.


The main points to take away from that are:

-You repeat yourself way too often and with such hyperspecificity that you'll use the same ten word phrase several sentences in a row. You need to either find more than one way to make the point you want to make, or just make it once and cut out the superfluous fluff. Hell you even did this in your OP here :lol:

-You don't need to comment on every single instrument if you don't have anything to say about each one. It's a common newbie trope to make an offhand mention of the bass being inaudible or uninteresting and 99% of the time it comes off like you're just ticking a box on a checklist instead of actually engaging with what it's doing. Old school track-by-track reviews where each one gets its own two sentence paragraph are explicitly banned at this point but these more flowing instrument-by-instrument ones are basically just the natural evolution of that old crutch. You should do more to zoom out and look at the piece as a whole.

-I only briefly touched on it in the quoted section but others have brought it up as well, your habit of directly referencing previous albums you've reviewed is extremely clunky and kinda reveals that your pool of knowledge/reference is incredibly shallow. Namedropping Atheist in a BDM/slam review, bringing up Agoraphobic Nosebleed in a Glamtera review, things like that just tell more experienced readers that the albums you've reviewed are literally the only metal albums you've ever heard. You'll gather more relevant points of reference as you naturally explore and listen to more metal so I assume that this is a habit that will iron itself out over time, but it's still something you should be cognizant of. (TrooperEd used to do this all the time but for a different reason. His narrative of metal in the 90s had clear good guys (trad/power metal) and bad guys (grunge/groove/nu metal) and he found reasons to shoehorn in unrelated bands to bash them all the time (most infamously comparing Blind Guardian to Roots-era Sepultura for an easy dunk) and it's equally jarring and useless when he did it.)

Those pointers are specifically for you based on what I've seen in your reviews. I don't like giving more general advice because everybody is different and approaches reviewing in their own way, but if there's any one bit I would give, it's basically just reiterating what Emp said: just keep writing. Everybody is shaky when they start, everybody falls into formulas sometimes, everybody has the capacity to break out and find their own voice and just naturally get better.
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lord_ghengis
Still Standing After 38 Beers... hic

Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:31 pm
Posts: 5753
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 1:38 am 
 

I'm basing this mostly off your Funebre one, with check ins with your ones for Member of Immortal Damnation and Primitive Man's Immersion just because they're probably the most interesting subject matters you've hit for me. If you've got one in particular you'd like me to run through a nitpick for how I'd have handled it differently I'm happy to do that, I'm bored as fuck.

First off I'd say you've got a good grasp of the structure for someone so fresh, god knows how many years I stuck to a fucking tedious rigid vocal paragraph, guitar paragraph, drum paragraph, production paragraph model which forced a lot of padding because, as you already understand, a lot of this stuff can be covered in a couple of sentences while addressing bigger points. Big tick there.

I prefer Italics to Bold on the album titles myself, maybe just a taste thing, but bolding makes me stop and read it with a big old HUGGGHHHH energy which hurts the flow.

Don't bother with stories about how where you first heard the album. It's only on the Funebre one from what I can see, but unless there's like a funny anecdote to it or it qualifies your knowledge (like a "this is the first time I'd ever been exposed to dissonance" or whatever) seeing that you were listening to the radio just gives the piece a really flat opening which doesn't catch attention or eyes. Like comparing it's first two lines to the first two lines of Immersion and it's night and day, one has you instantly focused on how "heavy, cacophonous, and emotionally crushing" the album is, the other has your eyes glaze over until you make the bold claim that it's the best finndeath you've heard since Nespithe (It's one of my favourites too). Get to the bold claims or at least do some kind of intriguing set up for the bold/central thesis claim asap, as the bold claim is your hook.

Another taste one but I hate abstracted "cool" metaphors for how wicked something is. "It almost sounds as if the Devil himself visited each of the members of Funebre, gave them ideas of what to play" may be a metal friendly image but to me it's just filler. You're far, far from the worst at this though and again, it's taste, there's plenty of people hired in proper publications who basically just shit out this nonsense nonstop. I'd just like some more literal discussions of techniques and sounds to be used so it's easier to get a mental image of what the music is actually doing, this doesn't need to be technical descriptions of guitar playing techniques, I myself use a heap of ridiculous mouth sound impersonations in my stuff, but you know, something tangible whether that's covering other genre change ups like Funebre's thrashy parts, specifically mentioning techniques like tremolos or chugs, or just referencing other bands which use the same musical motifs explicitly.

Try not to reuse exact phrases, especially when they're atypical. You use "the musical incarnation of dark poetry" twice. And again it's just a vague metal sounding metaphor, doesn't actually tell me what it sounds like. Impeccable and nostalgia (used as a vague noun rather than any specifically mentioning what the nostalgia is being conjured for) come up three times each as well. Which isn't too much but some basic vocabulary tweaks can help. Obviously thesaurus diving and using the coolest looking word you can find when you don't understand it, but utilizing viable common similes helps. Your structure is good and shouldn't be feeling as repetitive as it is, this is caused by the vocabulary.

Your reference pool can be very low. Which is fine, nothing wrong with giving the viewpoint from someone who isn't explicitly hyper knowledgable about a scene, there's a lot of readers who won't be either and will find your perspective more relatable than someone who knows the minutia of 126 bands from the same suburb, but you should try to not run a single reference point quite so hard into the ground. You don't need to bring up Purtenance every paragraph, go more general referring to the specific sound that Purtenance is doing that you see in Funebre instead.

While your reference pool is much wider in the Purtenance review, it's also extremely random as it's just bringing up random bands you think are better regardless of similarity, and your dig at Mortification is highly off topic.

Your Purtenance one goes miles too far in the song title spam. This is again one I used to do a lot as a hold over from track by tracks from my pre-MA days, but generally speaking "this is a thing that they do, here's one or two examples" is better than "here's a thing that they do, here's every single song they do the thing on". If the whole album is pretty samey, you don't need to discuss specific songs at all, your basic sound description is just "the band" and specifics are just for change ups.

Use as much cringy slang as you like. Not everything needs to look like a buyers guide in Metal Hammer. You're pretty open in making them little recaps of your own personal journeys with them and that's totally cool, I like that sort of thing a lot. Personality is a plus and I'm always in favour of more of that coming through, even if it's as a terminally online memespeaker, a lot of us are that and can relate to casual silliness.

Anyhoo that's my two cents. I'm pretty much illiterate at any rate so do with it what you will.
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caspian
Old Man Yells at Car Park

Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 11:29 pm
Posts: 6407
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 7:21 am 
 

pick a writing style that you have fun with and do relatively obscure albums for a little while. The cardinal sins are being overlong and boring (like some of the posts in this thread!). It took me a fair while to get ok at reviews so don't be too hard on yourself.

You will probably look back on early reviews and cringe a bit but that's fine. I mean, you're spending your spare time writing reviews on a random metal site; it could be shakespearean and it would still be kinda cringe yknow? What I'm getting at there is don't take yourself too seriously.
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gasmask_colostomy
Metalhead

Joined: Thu May 27, 2010 5:38 am
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Location: Behind the wall of fire v.2
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 10:02 am 
 

Read more reviews. Listen to more albums. Listen more carefully to the albums you've already listened to.

Then go back and read your old reviews again. Critically.
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Metantoine
Slave to Santa

Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:00 pm
Posts: 11986
Location: Montréal
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 12:08 pm 
 

Slater922 wrote:
Hey AC. Welcome to the forums. I'm Slater922, and I'm one of the more experienced reviewers on this site

You've been reviewing for less than a year... Come on now.

Everything has been said and I agree with everything BH wrote, you repeat yourself way too much and often in the same sentence. Maybe you need to read more to increase your vocabulary and use more synonyms. Using juvenile expressions such as "AF" can be "funny" at times and I'm not against it but in your case, it kinda highlights those other problems.

Quote:
the album as a whole is perfect for what it is and perhaps performed its purpose better than RTL did with its purpose


I think you could benefit from letting some albums breathe more before reviewing them, like your reviews for Death's Symbolic and TSOP. They read as someone who heard them the same day and decided to review them. It really shows. While this can be ok, I personally think it's a faux pas for such obvious bands.
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Slater922
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:24 pm
Posts: 833
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 1:05 pm 
 

BastardHead wrote:
lol tap the fuckin' brakes kiddo, you've only got ten more reviews than he does.

Metantoine wrote:
You've been reviewing for less than a year... Come on now.

Okay, maybe I should've worded my "experienced reviewer" sentence a bit differently. While I wasn't claiming to have years of experience, I do have more of a grasp of how the reviews on MA work, and have a bit more sense on what makes a review good.
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TheBurningOfSodom
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:28 am
Posts: 167
Location: Italy
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 3:55 pm 
 

Hey dude!

You've got A LOT of useful advices by many great reviewers, so don't miss out on them. I'll just have to second what said about repetitions (especially the last paragraph which is more often than not a collage of previous sentences), the limited references to other reviews by you, and some other minor gripes (the use of bold and a bit too many 'kickass' and 'as fuck'/'AF' which, albeit effective, sound a little tiring after a while). I guess I'll be the first one to bring in ratings to the table, of course they're a hugely subjective matter but really, having basically all your reviews sporting a 90%+ doesn't help. Especially when you're writing about an album you listened to for the very first time shortly before reviewing it. You're not the first one to crank out only super-positive ratings (Edmund Sackbauer is a prime example of that), but I always tend to dismiss someone who really stays so constant with them.

That being said, you're very young and enthusiast about metal so it's always refreshing to see it. I guess we (myself included) may have been really a bit too harsh about you, and the will to improve is always something to appreciate. Good things always take time.
Here's hoping we'll soon talk about you in a way more positive light :beer:
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Lord_Of_Diamonds
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:23 pm
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Location: Asheville area, NC, US
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 4:24 pm 
 

I'd say just keep reviewing and eventually you'll come into your own as a writer, but for sure, stop using such blunt and immature language like "yeet", "bruh", "kickass", etc. It's just not the kind of language to use in a review. Some hyperbole or humor here and there is effective, but don't overdo it. In your case, you end up using those adjectives too much and we're left with a vague description of the music.

When I first started reviewing here a couple years ago, I was pretty much universally despised, and still am by several people. They said at first that I'd hate my writings after a while as I grew as a writer. They were right. I'd venture to say the same is true for you. After you learn how to write a review like it's an actual music review, you'll look back at your old reviews and see areas that need to be improved. For now, just keep writing and see where it takes you.
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Empyreal
The Final Frontier

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 4:26 pm 
 

I personally don't like the slang shit like "heavy AF" and "yeet" and whatnot at all, but I'm not gonna tell anybody not to use it. Slang is just part of language. Do what you will. It's elitist to act like there's a truly "proper" way to write.
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Wahn_nhaW
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:34 pm
Posts: 249
Location: Belgrade, Serbia
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 5:09 pm 
 

Anus_Canis wrote:
Hello, I am Anus_Canis (you can refer to me as Ethan, if you wish), and I have been writing reviews on this site for about three months now, and I am wondering how I can improve the quality of my reviews. I feel like I’ve been falling into a pattern for each of my reviews, and because of that, I feel that I am remaining stagnant. I feel like I’m not moving forward with the quality of my reviews, and because of that, I feel that the quality of my reviews has been dull, and thus not leaving a stronger impact on my readers. So with that being said, how could I improve the quality of my reviews so that I could move forward as an active reviewer on this site?


Hey, Ethan. My advice would be to slow down a bit and spend more time absorbing music, so as to get a bit of a wider context for whatever it is you're reviewing.

Another thing: I'm sure you're aware of the negative response your reviews have provoked, but I also hope that you are aware that most people also know that you're young and new and, I dare say, a lot of people are actually rooting for you. Just take it easy and keep honing your style, but maybe spend more time with an album before you decide to review it.

All the best.
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TheBurningOfSodom
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:28 am
Posts: 167
Location: Italy
PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 6:00 pm 
 

Commenting again because I had to cut the previous one short for time reasons, but I'd like to address the 'sticking to the same review pattern' issue you mentioned.

I grew up A LOT after I stopped seeing my reviews as checklists (i.e. "okay so I've covered topics x, y, z, I still have to write about a, b, c and it's done"-like), and more as the outcome of the most natural flowing of thoughts and opinions I could make. Slowing down really has the double benefit of writing things better and with less effort since you're not forcing anything out of you. I brought up a very similar topic in the main thread some time ago, and got many helpful advices about experimenting and just feeling free while I wrote, without the need to stick to whatever pattern you may think of (I take advantage of this shout-out for ulterior thanks, since I see familiar names here lol).

Hell, in a couple of reviews I even put a single sentence as a whole paragraph, very much BH-esque if you ask me, and yet it's very useful when you want to give particular emphasis to it...

In general, mixing up the paragraphs' length and shuffling the order of topics covered in a single review will surely help you break free of whichever scheme is oppressing you - for example, in an album you may want to start describing the guitarist, or the drummer, because he's particularly talented, while in another you may want to start with the killer old-school sound or the clinical, industrial-tinged vibe and whatnot, or even the cover art, the title... anything that you recall as special from the album in question. But I better not delve further into this since someone else might jump in and be more accurate than I was.

In any way, you're a native English speaker unlike me, so you'll hopefully be able to express all your thoughts that you see as worthy of being read quickly.

I'm far from being the most apt individual to judge another reviewer, but I'd be really glad if this will help you as much as it did for me. Again, all the best!, and there's always a whole community willing to help in case of need. :)
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Bodosa
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Mon May 18, 2020 4:21 am
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Location: India
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2021 9:38 am 
 

What is the proper way to write a review here?
Should I go track by track ? Or should I go for an overall description?
Since, English is not my 1st language, what should the approach be like? It's kinda hard to put thoughts to words?

Any suggestion is welcomed. I really wanna write reviews of certain bands here.

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Bodosa
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Mon May 18, 2020 4:21 am
Posts: 27
Location: India
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 9:09 am 
 

No one replies to any of my Questions. :(

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Metantoine
Slave to Santa

Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:00 pm
Posts: 11986
Location: Montréal
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 9:54 am 
 

Bodosa wrote:
No one replies to any of my Questions. :(

The rules mention to avoid track by track reviews. Read 'em and also read what we approve to get a grip of our standards.
https://www.metal-archives.com/content/rules
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Bodosa
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Mon May 18, 2020 4:21 am
Posts: 27
Location: India
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2021 10:17 am 
 

Metantoine wrote:
Bodosa wrote:
No one replies to any of my Questions. :(

The rules mention to avoid track by track reviews. Read 'em and also read what we approve to get a grip of our standards.
https://www.metal-archives.com/content/rules


Thank you Sir

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