In light of CE's article, I thought it was time to shed light on my own reviewing technique and appraisal scheme, as I aspire to make this hobby of mine into a career some day.
As a music enthusiast and reviewer, it's hard to remain objective when appraising new music, especially in the realm of metal. Metal is comprised of a diverse pastiche of styles and genres; black, doom, power for example; it's essential, however difficult to provide an all-encompassing review that will enable readers to make a informed decision to listen to an album based on their own personal preferences and aesthetic viewpoints. Therefore, I personally try to adhere to the following (somewhat exhaustive!) guidelines when I write a review:
That the music is graded according to a band's achievements in musicianship, originality/creativity and compositional attributes, including and not limited to technicality, variation, lyrics/artistic themes and structural complexities respectively.
Consistency of song-quality throughout an album is given importance when considering a final rating.
Every disc is listened to a minimum of two (2) times before drafting a review or tentative score.
There will also be a small allowance for (outstanding or similarly bad) production values. Being "kvlt" or "grim" is not a valid excuse for intentionally utilizing primitive production - self-released material will however be given special consideration if a band themselves are constrained financially.
Demos are not graded with a score.
Clean and screamed vocals are given equal weightage in respect to their own stylistic forms.
The overall score of an album is rated according to an academic style grading system - the score out of ten is indicative of it's "letter-grade", i.e, B, B+, C, etc. Much like a bell-curve model, few (but not seldomly) releases should theoretically achieve an A+ or a rating of over 90%; and likewise for the other end of the spectrum. However, all scores that fall below 50% are a "fail"; i.e, do not fulfill the above criteria to an acceptable standard.
All percentages are divided by 10.
The scoring system is as follows, with simplified quality indicators:
0-49, F - Rubbish
50-54, E - Avoid
55-59, D - Fair/Not Good
60-69, C - Average/Not Bad
70-79, B - Good
80-89, A - Very Good
90-100, A+ - Excellent.
The higher a score, the likelihood that the enjoyability of the disc by all fans of metal - not merely enthusiasts of the genre - increases.
To hold the opinion that all bands are to be considered equal before the CD is entered into the player, however their critical evaluation begins from the first to the last note played on the disc. First-tier or "elite" bands will be given the same opportunities as an up and coming band to achieve the same score. I endeavor to be impartial when reviewing, regardless of a band's reputation/standing or lack thereof.
Read Curumbor Elendil's Guide To Ratings Here