Review Rating Scale and Ground Rules

Before I get too far into the business of posting up music reviews, it would only make sense to make few disclaimers, and to give a little background. First things first. For those of you who prefer getting straight to the point, here is the short version:

What Is The Rating Scale

9.6 – 10 = Classic/Perfect.

8.5 – 9.5 = Great

7.5 – 8.5 = Good

6.0 – 7.5 = Competent

5.0 – 6.0 = Mediocre

3.0 – 5.0 = Bad

0.1 – 3.0 = Terrible

0 = An Insult to Music

The ratings on the border between categories are ambiguous on purpose.

What Will Be Reviewed?

While I enjoy many styles of music, my tastes are more often than not centered around various forms of metal. As such, the majority of albums reviewed here will be metal and related genres.

What About Fiction Writing?

I continue to write fiction, and to work on getting my fiction published. The entire business of writing music reviews is something I would do for fun, to share my thoughts on music, and to practice my writing chops in a low-pressure environment. The two things are not mutually exclusive.

Now that the short version is done with, I will get a little more self-indulgent. With that in mind, here is the long version:

As with most things outside of mathematics, music is open to much interpretation. It will mean different things to different listeners, and any reviewer is in danger of being misinterpreted if he does not take great care. With this in mind, I have devised the following tracking system to quantify my overall enjoyment of an album:

9.6 – 10 – Classic/Perfect. There are very few albums that deserve being rated in this territory, which is reserved for one of two things. A Classic or a Perfect album is either mind-blowingly groundbreaking, amazing, influential, and timeless; or the album is sheer musical perfection, a complete piece of work that has no discernible flaws and provides an exemplar of a genre. These records are timeless classics that have stood the test of time, or that match up favorably against such classics. A classic record is highly recommended to any fan of music, including even listeners who do not normally consider giving the album’s genre a chance. Think “The Wall”, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”, “Night of the Stormrider”, “Reign In Blood”, and similarly regarded works.

8.5 – 9.5 – Great. The albums given these ratings are all top-notch, and stand head and shoulders above other examples of the respective genres. These records are certain to be enjoyable, and might be trend-setters in their own right. An album rated within this territory is highly recommended to anyone with even a slight degree of interest in the genre, and may find its way onto many Album of the Year lists.

7.5 – 8.5 – Good. Solid and enjoyable are the key words here. While the albums rated in this category might have some minor flaws or opportunities for improvement, they are generally consistent in quality and deliver good value for your time. Fans of the genre will not be disappointed, although others may find less to enjoy.

6.0 – 7.5 – Competent. These are the releases that are competently played and written, but perhaps lack that special something to make them truly memorable, or to separate them from the crowd. The albums ranked in this category are usually well played and recorded, and might have several standout songs, but do not have the staying power, or contain flaws that are difficult to overlook.

5.0 – 6.0 – Mediocre. A record ranked between 5 and 6 does not have much going for it. While not necessarily bad, it lacks the spark that would warrant further investigation. More often than not, these records suffer from several flaws in either playing, writing, or composition.

3.0 – 5.0 – Bad. These albums have serious flaws that prevent an enjoyable listening experience. Usually this means uninspired and derivative material, or serious problems with performance. The albums ranked in this category range from deeply flawed to downright unlistenable.

0.1 – 3.0 – Terrible. There is no way around it – these records are a chore to listen to, and have very few redeeming qualities. I would usually give a band at least few points for having determination to write and finish an album, but anything ranked in this category should be avoided as much as possible.

0 – An Insult to Music. Just like there are rare unsurpassed classics, there are also rare albums that are so bad, so utterly horrid and devoid of any merit, so impossibly atrocious, that no numerical grading can do them justice. Should I encounter any such sonic abominations, they will be given a score of zero and marked for posterity as truly some of the worst sonic atrocities ever made.

You may note that I have deliberately made the boundaries between the categories ambiguous, and the categories themselves are merely a guideline. The albums that receive a score on the border of two categories tend to fall in that sweet spot in between the categories – for example, an album rated at 8.5 would range between good and great, while an album rated at 8.0 would be squarely within a good territory. Generally, anything rated at 7.5 or above indicates an overall positive opinion.

As a musician myself, I enjoy seeing reviews indicating that the reviewer spent his or her time actually listening to the album, and took time to write a thoughtful review, even if the review is unfavorable. Therefore, I shall endeavor to extend the same courtesy to all bands I review for this blog, or for any other site. More often than not, the people making those records are little different from yours truly, and have put their blood, sweat, and tears into their music. As such, my reviews might be on a longer side, however, I shall try to provide reasonable amounts of detail and critique – both for the readers who might wonder what the album sounds like, and for the musicians who labored to create the album. I will do my best to treat the artists with respect, even if the review is unfavorable.

Bear with me, almost done here.

I will generally not review music in the genres I am not familiar with, or do not enjoy. As such, there will be no reviews of rap/hip-hop, country, radio pop, and several other genres that are not my cup of tea. My taste in music tends to favor melodic metal, including traditional and power metal, melodic death and black metal, and various other genres. That said, I enjoy other types of rock and metal, perhaps with the exception of certain types of gore metal and brutal death metal, so chances are, my reviews will run the gamut of styles.

I will never judge an album on the basis of its genre, but only on the album’s merits within that genre. After all, there are great radio rock albums, and horrible melodic metal releases. Of course, all of that is subjective, and an album’s rating will reflect how enjoyable it is to me. Your mileage may vary. 

As this blog is entirely non-commercial and exists to share my thoughts and writing with the world, I make one final promise – to be honest with my reviews. I will not give an album a good review solely because it is released on a major label, or because I am friends with the band members. I make no promises as to which reviews will be posted, and which will not, but if asked to review an album, I will generally try to post new reviews relatively quickly.

So there! Lengthy post concluded, on to writing about actual music!

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