Name: Michael Monz
Email address: michaelm (at) metal-observer.com
Compatible styles: Pretty much everything, both Metal and non-Metal, except for these named below
Incompatible styles: Nu Metal, Rap/Hip Hop, Pop
Thoughts on the main Metal genres:
Black Metal: Gladly. I like both "true" underproduced relentless Black Metal punishment and the more symphonic flavour with keyboards et al, like DIMMU and company
Death Metal: In general, yes. "Classical" Death Metal really has to fuck shit up so it doesn't bore me (BEHEMOTH!), but I'll take the melodic, technical and/or intelligent kind (i.e.: IN FLAMES, CRYPTOPSY, DEATH) any day. And because it doesn't fit in anywhere else: I especially enjoy Grindcore.
Thrash Metal: Mais oui! I enjoy both the American (SLAYER, TESTAMENT, EXODUS) and German (KREATOR,
Power Metal: Yep! BLIND GUARDIAN, FALCONER, DRAGONFORCE etc. all are bands I enjoy, because they manage to stand apart from the generic "Dungeons & Dragons Metal" crowd in one way or another. The only band I cannot stand at all is RHAPSODY.
Progressive Metal: Sadly I'm not well versed enough in musical theory to "get the most out of" Prog, at least as far as the more technical Prog is concerned. Generally speaking I don't mind it, however
Doom Metal: So far, my excursions into this genre have been limited to MY DYING BRIDE and KATATONIA. From time to time yes, but all in all I prefer faster stuff
Gothic Metal: In small doses. Some TRISTANIA, WITHIN TEMPTATION etc. now and then I can stomach, but I couldn't listen to it all day.
Classic/Heavy Metal: Up the Irons! I needn't say any more here :)
Nicknames: Michel, M.M.
Time at TMO: Since November 2004
How came to TMO: Via the Internet, somehow it developed out of a rather simple review submission
The best thing as a TMO translator: Translating itself is the great thing...and, of course, the fact it's about something I personally hold very dear, Metal!
The worst thing as a TMO translator: there really hasn't been anything bad so far. Texts which are, in the original language, poorly worded or erroneous can be annoying, but on the other hand they also are nice challenges
Birth town: Neunkirchen/Saar,
Present location: Neunkirchen/Saar,
Languages: English and German, both somewhat fluent at least as far as writing is concerned, and of course "Saarländisch" (a regional dialect)
Hobbies: Music, PC games and graphic design now and then
Pet peeves: People who can't mind their own fucking business
Phobia(s): Moths in particular and small creepy-crawlies in general
I, about myself: Extremely lazy, always to be found in the background, a decent observer
Describe yourself in 5 words: "Silent, cynical, uninteresting" says all
Funny childhood story: Can't think of anything truly funny...
How I came into Heavy Metal: In two ways actually. Firstly, once an acquaintance lent me "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" by BLIND GUARDIAN, thanks to which I first got into BG and then into the rest; secondly, a buddy from Sweden (in case you're reading this, Björn – keep on truckin'!) sent me a couple of songs on the internet, by bands like NEVERMORE, CRADLE OF FILTH, MESHUGGAH and so on. At some point something just "clicked".
First Metal CD ever bought: Blind Guardian – Nightfall In Middle-Earth
Most embarrassing CD in your collection: Spineshank – The Height Of Callousness
First Metal concert: Hasn't been one
What did Metal teach me about life: Nothing I didn't already know really, only here it's geared towards the extremes: the nice folks are really nice and the non-nice ones are elitist assholes
Favourite music listening place and why? At the PC, because I already spend virtually my whole time here anyway.
Most prized Metal possession? Nothing in particular really. Certainly all my CDs, they cost a nice amount of money after all.
Band & previous band experiences: None sadly
Instrumental talents: None either sadly
Favourite bands: Way too many to list
Least favourite bands: All Nu Metal ones. Yuck. Can't stand RHAPSODY either.
Sound you’d like to have banned: Noise created by children
Most overrated bands: Opeth (gonna take a lot of shit for this one), Cradle of Filth, Rhapsody
Most underrated bands: Ebony Tears, Unexpect, Solstice, Jag Panzer
Most influential band: BLIND GUARDIAN was the very first band through which I got to experience Metal, so I suppose it'll have to be them who "got me into it". NEVERMORE, IRON MAIDEN, MESHUGGAH and others have also been a big influence however
Favourite musician: Devin Townsend. How changeable that man is...
Favourite album cover: Ulver – Bergtatt. Perfect fusion of artwork and album content
10 favourite albums: (with reasons for each album)
Blind Guardian – Nightfall In Middle-Earth
Awesome Metal album, fucking awesome concept album. Even as a "normal" album it is a class of its own, but if you are familiar with the book it's based on (the "Silmarillion" by J.R.R. Tolkien), it develops a sweeping power and emotionality the likes of which I have only rarely felt. Here, the book really has been accurately turned into captivating, epic metal that is going to send plenty of shivers down one's spine. The hopeless duel of Fingolfin against Morgoth – perfectly captured. The fanatic oath of Fëanor and his sons to recover the Silmarils at all cost – inimitable. The short interludes with their, most of the time, spoken content also do their part in contributing to the unique atmosphere of this album (especially the voice actor of Morgoth is spot on).
To those who have not read the Silmarillion, the lyrics will remain cryptic and the full potential of the album will never unfold – not that, purely as a Metal album, it's a blank! In that regard as well it ranks among the greatest works of these folks from
However: words simply cannot do justice to "Nightfall In Middle-Earth".
Don't fear the eyes of the Dark Lord...
Nevermore – Dead Heart In A Dead World
One of the few discs I can listen to all the way through without getting bored or the album getting old. Warrel Dane & co. got everything right and play a crushing Power/Thrash Metal hybrid which, on the one hand, really hits hard (wonderful production!), but on the other hand offers deep lyrics and well thought-out song structures. From neck breakers such as the opener "Narcosynthesis" or the ingenious Simon & Garfunkel cover "The Sound Of Silence" to balladesque tracks like "Evolution 169" and "The Heart Collector", they've got the entire spectrum covered. Rock the FUCK on.
Falconer – s/t
Fantasy Power Metal, yes. But only slightly cheesy Fantasy Power Metal with incredibly good, catchy songs and one of the best vocalists this Metal subgenre has ever seen. On here as well, everything simply is right, from the song writing over the instrumental skills of the band to the vocals. They can play in a fast paced and sweeping ("Wings of Serenity", "Mindtraveller") as well as in a mid tempo way ("Heresy In Disguise") or balladesque ("Substitutional World", "The Past Still Lives On"), with everything highly memorable and everything simply fucking awesome. And here, the first album (sadly) was the best by far, too.
Wintersun – s/t
I know, I know. "Isn't it a bit early already to count this disc among your all time favourites?" Nope, it isn't. Rarely, in my opinion, has deadly Metallic bludgeoning been so skilfully combined with breathtaking melodies and other Melodic/Prog influences. Jari sings damn well, plays guitar, bass and keyboard damn well, writes damn good songs, and drummer Kai Hahto punishes his kit damn well. A lot of the time things are unrestrainedly brutal, but never crude; often melodic, but never effete. Songs like "Battle Against Time", "Sadness and Hate" or the opener are good examples for the magic that Jari and Kai have woven here. Awesome, just awesome.
Ulver – Bergtatt
In my opinion pretty much the ultimate Black Metal album. At times melodic with almost choral vocals, at times raw and punishing, but always with a certain il ne sait quoi. It's difficult to describe; "Bergtatt"'s got something nordic, cold, mystical. One could come to the conclusion Garm set the cover artwork to music, it fits the music just that perfectly and vice versa. The endless high forests of the frozen north are made accessible to the listener through "Bergtatt", it's fantastic.
Discordance Axis – The Inalienable Dreamless
Still one of the most unique albums I've ever listened to. I think I wrote enough about it in the review, so let me just say this here: we're probably not going to see something as unique and harmonious again anytime soon.
Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve
I very much like MESHUGGAH in general, but “DEI” is both my favourite MESHUGGAH disc as well as the first MESHUGGAH CD I ever heard AND one of my all time favourites. Musically and technically it's incredibly complex and demanding, but also catchy (as far as one can speak of catchiness here) and varied (something which e.g. "Chaosphere" largely lacked). To me, one of the landmarks in Metal. I love
Amon Amarth – Versus The World
If I was allowed only to take one Viking/Death Metal album with me to the famous desert island, it would without question be this one. From the incredibly tight production over Heggs' relentless vocals and the razorsharp and melodic guitars to the uncompromisingly brutal drumming (just take the double bass on the title track!), "Versus The World" has got everything a Viking needs for survival. Well, apart from a longboat and enough met, but you can provide for that yourself. Let's go pillage and kill!
Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time
This was my first MAIDEN album, and somehow it has also stayed with me the strongest. Many fans apparently don't like it much thanks to the allegedly overdone keyboards, but I like it particularly because of that: in this regard, too, IM were ahead of their time. Apart from that, this album does, of course, thoroughly yield great songs by these Brits, for example "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner", "Wasted Years", "Caught Somewhere In Time" or the closer "Alexander The Great", whose intro probably is the most melancholic music MAIDEN have ever written. Up the Irons!
Cryptopsy – None So Vile
Holy fuck, what an awesome, brutal, technical, diverting album. It proves that Death Metal lyrics can be both intelligent and self-deprecating without leaving behind the usual subject matter; that the vocals can be incredibly sick and yet originate from the same person who penned said lyrics; that the music can be incredibly complicated and convoluted without losing brutality; that CRYPTOPSY are (un-)gods.
Favourite films: The "Lord of the Rings" saga. I'm not much of a film fan...
Favourite books: Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion, Brave New World
Favourite food: Pizza, various dishes by my esteemed mother
Favourite drink: Mineral water and coffee
Favourite smokes: I don't smoke
Which song should be played at your funeral? Vangelis—To The Unknown Man
Idol (s): none
Person you‘d like to meet: no one. Stay away!
Catchphrase: "Why, back in my day..."
Biggest thrill in life (so far): Probably my birth. It's been downhill since then
Goal in life: None in particular
Secret: Yeah right!
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