REVIEW: Onward and Upward

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

Earlier this week, the winners of the Wizard Rock People’s Choice Awards were announced.  Check back Wednesday for my detailed analysis of the winners, but for this first review, I’d like to look at the big winner of the evening, The Ministry of Magic, who for the second time in a row, swept the biggest awards, including Best Song, Best Album, and Best Band.  I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the boys of Ministry of Magic, as well as remind them Felix Felicis and use of the Confundus Charm are considered illegal in organized competitions.  Why am I doing this? Because I honestly don’t see how they could have won, without resorting to illegal magic.

Now that I have garnered the death wishes of every MoM fangirl (and the three fanboys) in the world, let me take a few massive steps back.  Firstly, I am not in anyway insinuating that Ministry of Magic obtained their digital awards illegitimately, the topic of MoM’s immense popularity is one I hope to discuss on a later Wednesday.  Secondly, I do not hate the band Ministry of Magic, and I definitely don’t hate the individual people comprising the band (though I can’t remember their names, or match names to voices).  However, what I do hate is their WRPCA-winning album, Onward and Upward.  Even more so, I hate the fact that one of the most promising young wrock bands has failed to evolve in any recognizable way over time, but that’s also a topic for another Wednesday.  Suffice it to say that I loved the first half of their first album (it was sort of like Wall-E in that regard), and really enjoyed their second album, and was massively disappointed by their third offering (not counting the acoustic album).

The album starts right away on a bad note, quite literally, with “Call to Arms”, that features one of the most bizarre choices of drums I’ve ever heard in a MoM song.  It’s this crunchy off-beat hip-hop drum that thankfully lasts only a few moments but leaves a rotten taste in the ears.  And then we get into the meat of the song which is… quite bland.  The main synth melody isn’t fun to dance to or particularly engaging in any way.  It’s not a bad melody, but it doesn’t work well in this context at all, and it’s stultifyingly repetitive, and fails to go anywhere.  Meanwhile, the new drum beats is just the incessant shaking sound.  And overall, the song is just bland, it doesn’t make you dance, or make you think, it’s just really boring, and a really bad first step for the album.

The next song, “Gryffindor Rally Cry” should have been the first song on the album, but the pho-vocoder gets really annoying really quickly.  The chanting/cheering chorus is pretty fun, but it’s surrounded by rhythm-less forced rhymes that meander around and never go anywhere, and the music is only slightly more fun than the previous track.  Also, it takes a full minute for the song to get interesting at all (the aforementioned chorus), which is way too long to make the listener wait.

Next up is “Lightning Struck Tower” which is… well, it’s… it’s really freakin’ amazing, to be honest.  It’s the best wizard rock song about Snape killing Dumbledore that I’ve heard, and I’ve heard a few.  It is far and away the best track on the album, and one of MoM’s best songs they’ve ever made, period.  The music drives and pounds at the right moments, and the dark tone of it manages to mask a couple lyrical missteps (you can’t just randomly stop rhyming halfway in, boys), because you’re having so much fun groovin’ to the music.  It’s an amazing song, and fully deserved winning the WRPCA for best Techno/Electronic song (though Misuse’s “Ravin’ In The Great Hall” was a very close second).  I’m serious, stop reading this, and go buy it. Then come back.

We then roll into “Catalyst For Love” which is damnably catchy, but is let down by two big problems – the lyrics are absolutely terrible, and they boys for some reason decided to layer the entire song with the sound of someone squeaking their shoes across the floor.  It’s really annoying, and renders the song practically unlistenable.

I give credit to MoM with “I May Lose Everything” for trying something different with the music.  One of my major overall complaints about this album in general is the lack of originality in the sound of the music – not the melodies per se, but the sounds that they chose to coax out of their various synthesizers and computer programs.  However, while it doesn’t sound like most other MoM songs, it’s not a very good song.  Ironically, the familiar sounding bits with the synth string hits are the best sounding parts, providing a nice counterpart to the over-produced guitar portions.  “I May Lose Everything” is one of the lyrical highpoints of the album, but the music makes it not worth it.  I give them props for trying something different, it just didn’t work out well.  One last note about this song – the best parts of this song, and this album in general is when they stop producing the crap out of their lovely voices and let them speak for themselves.  The “But you never haaaad it” at about 0:48 is absolutely breathtaking – unfortunately, much of the great voicework is obscured by filters and equalizing.

Next, “Only Power Remains”, which won the WRPCA for Best Song.  Out of all the many, many songs released in 2009, this was voted the best.  I still haven’t quite wrapped my brain around that.  It’s not a terrible song by any means.  It’s probably the third best on the album.  But there were so many better songs released last year.  “Walk” by Whompy and the RiddleTM girls is a better collab; much better electronica was crafted by Luna’s Ceiling and Misuse, not to mention by Ministry of Magic themselves; Split Seven Ways and MC Kreacher explored themes of darkness and death much better, and in ways that actually rhymed; and in terms of sheer beauty, this song is massively outclassed by the likes of Roonil Wazlib’s “Not The End”.  Again, it’s not a bad song, and Nina does a phenomenal job as Lily, and the chorus is pretty fun (though the weird thing they do with “haunts” in “in dreams he haunts you” always throws me out of the song), but best song created in 2009? Definitely not.  At least last year the song that won was the best track off the album (“Lovegood”).

“Battle of Hogwarts” is the second best track on the album, and it isn’t even really a song.  It’s basically a dramatic reading of the Battle in the Ministry, the Battle of the Tower, and The Battle of Hogwarts, set to music.  It’s a fun and well done little piece, though I’m not a huge fan of the first Dumbledore voice – doesn’t sound quite old enough, though the “Severus, please” is perfect.  As for the background music, after the first 20 seconds you’ve pretty much heard it all, but it does its job well.

After this, the album really starts to go downhill, become more and more forgettable.  Again, Onward and Upward isn’t a terrible album – in fact, if a n00b band dropped this album from nowhere, I would be lauding it with accolades (and suggestions for how to improve themselves for their sophomore release).  However, compared to their previous work, MoM’s music is just so boring and forgettable for the most part, which really is sort of weird for them.  The second half of this album especially fails to really elicit any emotion, one way or the other.  It just doesn’t get me to care in any way.

“Longbottom Legacy” is especially laughable in its wonky instrument use which often covers up the lyrics which tell a story that has been much better told elsewhere, especially by Neville’s Diary.  “Seven Shadows” contains some really sketchy vocals – I mean, they’re on pitch and everything, but his voice just keeps pausing for just a sec, and there is no real cadence at all, making it really difficult to listen to.  “Evanesco Dobby” is the fifth best song on the album.  The verses are really annoying instrumentally, and the lyrics are on par with early Harry and the Potters (no, I’m not linking to them, you bloody well know who they are), but without any of the irony, but the choruses (chori?) are great fun, with soaring string hits and one of the most uplifting songs about Dobby made post-Deathly Hallows.  Of course, even the fun chorus gets bogged down by the end of the song with over-production, unnecessary backing vocals on delay, a really bizarre extraneous drum track, and other nonsense.  There’s about 45 second of really good shit in this song, but it’s surrounded by 2 minutes and 15 seconds of really terrible shit, and ends up being not worth it.

“Prelude” isn’t a bad song, and I can’t even classify it as bland, but it still never really goes anywhere.  “Meet Me On Diagon Alley” is a far superior song with the same subject matter.  “Prelude” is easy to listen to, and the lyrics are adequate, but by this point in the album, you need something along the lines of “A Phoenix Lament” to pull the album back from the brink, and it just isn’t up to the job.  Lastly, we end with “Into the Night”, which musically is one of the high points of the album, with some very interesting choices and pacing ideas.  If you’re at all interested in the mechanics of music, give the instrumentals of this song a listen.  However, even sophisticated instrumental choices can’t make up for VoldeMark’s voice getting so high it just becomes silly.  It really is hard not to laugh out loud when you hear “The miniiistryyyyyyyy” rocket up to the stratosphere.  Also, many times when multiple voices are singing together, all the different filters and such put on their voices interfere with each other and make these odd wavy sounds.  Really, this last song sort of sums up the album as a whole – it has a couple bright spots, but the voices and lyrics completely overshadow those bright spots, and surprisingly often for a MoM release, the music hinders as well.

Now, allow me to spend a little bit more time talking about the voices and the lyrics before wrapping this baby up.  The Ministry of Magic is wizard rock’s boy band in pretty much every way, including they all have some excellent voices.  However, their strong voices are at times slightly altered for the worse, and at times completely ruined by too much post-production fiddling.  In fact, with mastering in general, this album really doesn’t feel like anyone went through and listened to it and basically acted as a Beta. Maybe someone did, and maybe these were conscious decisions, but if they were, I’ll be blunt and say that they were not good decisions.  As for the lyrics, I was really let down, considering that this is Ministry of Magic.  Lyrically, their first album blew no minds, but there was rhyming and rhythm and cadence.  There was a bit less rhyming in their second album, but it was made up for by some really powerful lyrics, especially in the tear-jerking “A Phoenix Lament”.  But in this album, the lyrics flitted between free form blathering without rhythm or rhyme, nonetheless cadence, and really terribly forced rhymes.  It really makes me wonder what happened to them – did they decide that rhyme schemes and meaningful lyrics were for women or something?

Now, to bring it all home.  Should you spend your money on this album?  No, absolutely not. Did it deserve all the accolades and awards it received? No, absolutely not.  Do I hate Ministry of Magic, or any of the individuals in the band? No, absolutely not.  Some of my favorite wrock songs of all time are Ministry of Magic songs, and one of them even came from this album.  And, despite myself, I’m excited for their next album, because I do have faith that they will hit their stride again.  The amazingness of “The Lightning Struck Tower” just goes to prove that.  But I really can’t grasp why this album has done as well as it has, it is far and away MoM’s weakest outing, and one of the weakest wizard rock albums made by a Big Name Band.  My advice? Go buy “Lightning Struck Tower” no matter what, and “Battle of Hogwarts” if you like audiobooks, and “Gryffindor Rally Cry” if you’re a Gryffindor.  Otherwise, keep your money for something else.  Like ice cream.  Chances are it’ll be more memorable.

Grade:

So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.  And check back Wednesday for the first “Extended Thoughts” article!

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34 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brad Ausrotas
    May 17, 2010 @ 06:19:56

    It’s refreshing to see someone being fair and unbiased about wizard rock. I mean, for a lot of the lesser-known bands, concessions have to be made. For most wizard rock, you can’t professionally critique it without leaving much to be desired, but in this case, it’s completely justifiable.

    MoM are probably the biggest band in the scene right now, which I find extremely annoying (I’m a wizard ROCK fan, myself), and they deserve to be called out when they fuck up. You weren’t being vindictive, or purposely trying to stir shit. You just told it how you saw it, and explained very reasonably WHY this was the case, and I love it.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing where you take this blog!

    Reply

  2. wrocknquidditch
    May 17, 2010 @ 11:11:22

    I think what I like most about this review is not JUST that you’ve expressed your opinion in an honest and fairly tactful way, but that you’ve provided links to bands MoM fands might also like if they haven’t already heard them. While it’s impossible to give every single wizrock band face time…the effort is refreshing.

    Reply

  3. LoonyLuna48
    May 17, 2010 @ 19:18:51

    It was really ballsy of you to @reply me to read this after I praised Jason Munday for having a catchy song with Griffindor Rally Cry. I come into this expecting a review of praise with the criticism that it needs (not everything is A+ work), but I was totally wrong.

    As a newcomer to wrock, I’ve only heard of MoM and other popular wrock groups through YouTube. And writing a mostly negative review for a first review won’t necessarily get you a good following.

    Thanks but no thanks. I won’t be reading you anymore.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 17, 2010 @ 21:04:33

      You’re right, it was pretty ballsy, and partly to spawn some hits, but I thank you for reading and responding. And I believe that my review contained the criticism that was necessary, and again, I do really, really dig the chorus from “Gryffindor Rally Cry”, the music surrounding the chorus, and in the album in general just isn’t up to par with what I know Ministry of Magic is capable of. Again, thanks for sharing your dissenting opinion!

      Reply

  4. Arodhwen
    May 18, 2010 @ 08:38:41

    One of the reasons that the WRPCAs went the way they did is that not many wrock fans HAVE heard of many other bands, like LoonyLuna48 above. Some of them may not even vote in all categories, and probably don’t go to the trouble of listening to other songs and just go in to vote for their favorite group. Personally, I’m not one of those. In fact, every band you linked to above (in my mind) IS a “popular” band. MoM is so popular because they have professional equipment and sound like a “real” (non-wrock) band. They ARE one of the best bands on the scene as far as musical prowess goes, like it or not. Their sound quality is always professional, their voices always on key, and even a simple acoustic song is more complicated than strummed chords. (I’m assuming that this is one of the reasons you chose them for your first review.)

    I appreciate what your blog is trying to do, but a few of your criticisms were nothing more than your own musical preference. Personally, I’d go so far as to say I LIKE the drums you so fervently strike down as “crunchy off-beat hip-hop.” But then, I like them because they’re reminiscent of Linkin Park, which was a staple of my high school music experience. However, I’ll admit that it IS refreshing to see that there was only one typo in the entire review. From the ‘pedia’s post, I got the impression this would just be a great big bash of anything you review, but I’m glad to see you had SOME praise in there. I’m interested to see what you post tomorrow.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 18, 2010 @ 09:12:31

      Wait, I had a typo? Dammit. Where? 😉

      Anywho, thanks for your comment, and I agree, MoM is one of the most talented bands on the scene, which is why I was so disappointed by Onward & Upward. Their voices are always on key, but for some reason they decided to produce the crap out of the voices, ruining their beautiful voices. I have nothing against adding filters to voices and such, but the wrong ones were used, and overused, and everytime you heard Voldemark or someone else (Voldemark is the only name I can confidently match to a voice) unfiltered, it was like a fresh of breath air. Woah, did I really just write that? Like of breath of fresh air. In fact, I was just listening to the penultimate track of Demons at the Helm and was struck by how great Mark’s voice was, and how much O&U would have been improved by just letting the boys’ voices speak for themselves.

      Also a note about your second paragraph: Can reviews ever be anything more than your own preferences? Sure, you can always point out technical flaws and triumphs, but even those aren’t universal. And I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of Linkin Park and related bands (though I do love me some Fort Minor), but really, I do like crunchy hip hop beats. Moreover, I like hip-hop with crunchy hip hop beats. And ones that contain some rhythm and rhyme. Though the drums at the beginning of “Call To Arms” were a loop, they followed no real structure, and most of all, were just out of place in this song. I can think of some ways crunchy hip hop beats would work in an MoM song, but they didn’t work in this one, especially since they were just thrown into the beginning and never heard from again.

      Thanks so much for commenting, I really, really appreciate the feedback!

      Reply

      • Arodhwen
        May 18, 2010 @ 09:37:33

        “Out of all the many, many songs released in 2009, this was the voted the best.” (Extra “the.” Or missing “one.” We may never know…)

        But I’m glad it was there, or else I might not have noticed your good spelling and grammar. That automatically earns you win-points. Genuinely looking forward to what pops up tomorrow.

        Reply

  5. C
    May 18, 2010 @ 08:44:00

    This could be a good thing for the community if, as Brad mentioned above, you keep in mind the concessions to be made for lesser-known bands or younger or newer bands. For the larger “award-winning” bands, however, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to review them critically and with honesty (whatever your opinion) as long as that goes hand-in-hand with civility, especially if you’re up front (as you are) about the purpose, intention, and tone of the site/blog.
    It might even inspire some artists to improve their sound or technique to strive for something of even greater musical/lyrical merit, and if the level of excellence in terms of artistic quality of the bands goes up…well, wouldn’t that probably help the whole genre last a little longer with a few more fans?
    Perhaps the blog is a “dangerous” idea, but don’t any ideas that go against the grain contain a certain amount of social risk? I’ll be interested to see how future reviews go and whether I maintain my current opinion of this project.
    For now, though, I think it’s a commendable effort to stir up the sometimes false love-peace-and-joy attitude regarding musical quality pervasive in the community, and, well, it’s your blog.

    Reply

  6. Whompy
    May 18, 2010 @ 12:02:05

    I used a little bit of reverb and light compression on Mark’s vocals on A Conversation With My Demons. With a voice like Mark’s, that’s all you need. 🙂

    Reply

  7. Alli
    May 18, 2010 @ 12:26:47

    Onward and Upward is my least favorite of the MoM albums, though I’ve never sat down to listen to it all the way through to pin point why, so thank you for providing the impetus to do just that.

    However, in response to your statement “Should you spend your money on this album? No, absolutely not.” I have to say that even though Onward and Upward is my least favorite of the MoM albums, I don’t regret buying it. I would recommend the others first, but I don’t regret buying it at all.

    Reply

  8. Shannon
    May 18, 2010 @ 14:48:39

    I hate MoM. Let’s Lumos! should have won Best Band. :[

    Reply

    • Jacquelyn
      May 19, 2010 @ 01:10:36

      I would actually have to disagree with this.

      This isn’t to say they aren’t fantastic, becase they are.

      But they didn’t even release an album in 2009, and they didn’t contribute a whole lot to the community either.

      To me, someone who wins band of the year should be a huge, active part in this community and have released an album.

      Now if they can do that for next year, I’ll be more than happy to vote for them as band of the year.

      But that’s just me, and others may have different requirements as to what makes someone the band of the year, so by no means am I saying that your vote is incorrect, I just haave to politely disagree.

      Reply

      • Arodhwen
        May 19, 2010 @ 17:54:33

        Completely agree, Jacquelyn. That’s why I was rooting for Tonks and the Aurors. She’s really stepped it up and hasn’t gotten a ton of credit.

        Reply

  9. KateKintail
    May 19, 2010 @ 12:12:10

    I already mentioned on Twitter that I didn’t agree with your rating (I’d give it a C+ or B- maybe, even in comparison with their other work… but I’m not a very harsh judge). But what I love about music in general is that it is very subjective and I appreciate your opinion and your justify your feelings quite eloquently.

    However, I do have a problem with your choice of grading scale. C’mon man, this is Harry Potter! Where are the O, E, A, P, D, and T grades? I rather like the wizarding grading system, because it gives you a small spectrum of good and an equal range of bad as well. i.e. is Onward and Upward *really* worthy of Troll? Or would you say it was merely Dreadful? 🙂

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 19, 2010 @ 12:14:04

      I’ve actually been considering doing an OWL-style grading system, though I’d have to figure out first what these arbitrary letters actually mean…

      Reply

  10. bullettongue
    May 19, 2010 @ 12:57:53

    tl:dr version of this:
    It’s okay. It’s not bad. I didn’t like some parts but some is great. Oh yeah, and my grade is F

    WTF man from reading YOUR review I thought you’d give it a low C and then you come out with an F. Harsh!
    Anyway I fucking love that album. It’s my favorite MoM album but, you know, different people different opinions.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 19, 2010 @ 18:57:36

      Basically, I loved two songs, and could listen to 4 more. That’s 6 out of 12 songs. 6/12 = 50%, which is an F. Especially since you can just buy the two awesome songs separately. I should probably post a thingie explaining how I grade somewhere.

      Reply

  11. Andrew
    May 19, 2010 @ 21:05:49

    The difference between wrock and agnostic themed music is wrock is not flawless everyone knows this, MoM is no exception to this either, however while they may be true what wrock has is a very devoted community that simply likes to show their obsession with HP in a way everyone can appreciate it would seem you have forgotten this.

    Also you complain alot about their voices and instruments being “obscured by filters and equalizing” I would like to direct you to the electronic top 50 chart, ALOT of electronic music has this type of obscurities its part of the genre.

    While I agree it is great to give constructive criticism, I honestly dont beleive any wrock band deserves an F as a grade for their album unlike agnostic music alot of them arent being payed to do it and because of this they really shouldn’t be reviewed the same way.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 19, 2010 @ 21:19:33

      I really think a bit too much attention has been payed to that F than it deserves. Yeah, it’s a bit ostentatious, all solid gold and everything, but I don’t think the inclusion of a single letter affected the tone of the article in any way. I use letter grades as a tl;dr, and I’m pretty sure it was obvious from the article that I really did not like the album. Also, just because a lot of the professionals use too many filters and stuff, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Just look at autotune. Is everybody doing it? Yes. Is it a good idea? No, except for when you use it to make congressmen sing. Then it’s just awesome.

      Also, my disappointment in this album was by and large in comparison to the previous albums, who didn’t do all the filtery nonsense, and I felt they were better albums because of it. Also, there is totally a time and a place for excessive filters and stuff like that, but I really don’t think it meshes well with MoM’s more laid-back, lyric-driven, “dance if you want to” style of electronica. I mean, they really are closer to a boy band than an electronic or techno band. For example, they don’t have two-four minute-long electronic solos in every one of their songs.

      Lastly, MoM are professional musicians, and they did release this album for free, and I feel anyone should be free to say they didn’t like something.

      Also, I’m totally confused by your use of the word agnostic.

      Thanks a lot for reading and commenting!

      Reply

  12. Becca
    May 20, 2010 @ 10:30:30

    For me, like you, the songs were hit or miss; I didn’t really listen to a lot of the songs from start to finish. I just put the ones I dig on a wrock playlist and pretty much never listened to the rest of the album again. It’s nice to have it broken down song by song by somebody who knows their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to music theory and composition. Especially since I *don’t* know my ass from a hole in the ground regarding those subjects.

    Your music preferences seem pretty similar to my own so I look forward to more reviews in the future. And I applaud your eloquence. This is the only genre I know of where reviews of music are either so positive you would think the reviewer is trying to bed the musician(s) or so scathingly mean and devoid of real content that you would think the reviewer actually did try (and fail) to bed said musician. It’s nice to see a blog that does neither and knows what it’s talking about.

    Like people have mentioned, this blog might upset some people, but a wise man once said, “Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I’m afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.”

    Reply

  13. Crabbe and the Goyles
    May 21, 2010 @ 03:42:09

    Well, read your review and listened to the album afterward off clips on youtube and I gotta say I agree with you one hundred percent. I found myself just bored most of the time. A couple songs were really entertaining but those synths got too repetitive and in my opinion sometimes holding notes does not show talent, rather shows lack of thought put into the lyrics and you nailed this one pointing on the lack of lyrical development.

    Great review. Seriously can’t wait to read more.

    Reply

  14. Katie
    May 25, 2010 @ 13:29:27

    My biggest problem with your “review” of this album is that a very large portion of your critiques lack any sort of technical support. For a good portion of it, you’re just sprouting opinions on how you don’t like the lyrics or how you don’t feel like they’ve changed. Both of these points are very much disputable and they’re both largely subjective to personal opinion. At points when I’d LIKE to agree with what you have to say about the album, I find myself fighting it, because – to be frank – you come across as a pretentious bitch. I have no doubt that you love wrock just as much as any of us. But sprouting insults with little backing does little to no good for the community.

    I’m not a MoM fangirl. They’re definitely not favorite wrock band, and “Onward and Upward” definitely isn’t my favorite album. There definitely are songs on the album that I consistently skip over when they show up on iTunes. But I can’t help but feel…very unimpressed with this review.

    I think you could do much better if you’d stop contradicting every positive comment you’ve made with a negative, and if you stopped letting your personal opinions interfere as much as they do.

    Reply

    • Katie
      May 25, 2010 @ 13:40:08

      Okay, after looking back at my comment, I feel like I should clarify. You definitely have made some sort of attempt at backing your claims. It’s just…none of them seem valid. I’m listening through the album critically right as I write this, and I can’t help but disagree with you again and again. For instance, some of the songs you’ve said “go nowhere” or make you laugh were some of those that stick with me the most.

      Reply

      • wrocksnob
        May 25, 2010 @ 20:25:11

        Well, that’s the whole point, really. I would heartily disagree with you saying my claims are invalid – that’s just part of the majesty of art. Something I find boring and annoying someone else finds moving and full of truth and beauty. Is one person’s opinion more correct or valid than another? Definitely not. This is just one of those things where we’ll have to agree to disagree!

        Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 25, 2010 @ 20:22:19

      I can’t help but be a little confused. How am I supposed to review something without my personal opinions? I mean, that might work if you’re reviewing, say, how structurally sound a building is – everything is very quantitative. But if you’re reviewing a piece of art, it is impossible to review it without one’s personal opinions. Also, I feel like a spent a good deal of time saying what I specifically didn’t like, at least musically – I think I really broke down each song and said what I did and didn’t like. How else am I supposed to review something? And yes, for every positive comment there were three negative comments, but I really didn’t like the album, so I’m not going to pretend to like it. I will agree with you that I didn’t spend too much time saying why I thought the lyrics to “Catalyst For Love” were stupid, and if you want to hear why, I’ll tell you, and I did sort of breeze through the last half of the album, but most of those songs are just really bland, and I couldn’t be arsed to basically come up with different and intriguing ways of saying “This is really bland and I hate it, can I go back to listening to The Triwizard LP now?”

      But thanks for your comment, I need criticism to become a better critic!

      Reply

  15. Arka
    May 25, 2010 @ 14:40:58

    Honestly, what struck me from this review is that it is very logos-oriented. Yes, you analyze the musical quality and crappy lyrics, and I’ll admit they’re repetitive or subpar sometimes. But any work of art has a huge base in pathos, and I think Ministry of Magic is one of the best bands in this respect. What really compels me to their music is how it evokes the emotions and themes of the books in a musical way, that even “Catalyst for Love” and “Only Power Remains” kind of capture the mood of the books in a way that you can’t straight out verbally express. Or how “Longbottom Legacy” and “Evanesco Dobby” extract some of the meaning and characters and put it to catchy music. And finally, it’s good music to dance to, get excited about, play in your car, listen to when you’re tired.

    That’s all my biased opinion, of course, and you said a lot of true things about the album. My only objection to your review, and your general reviewing style, is that you don’t really pay that much attention to the overall intention of purpose or effect of a work. You do plenty of great explication, but there’s no overall “so what?” Music and lyrics are meaningless if you don’t try to focus on the context, the point.

    I hope you do a lot of more reviews, and I hope you can tie up your criticism with the relevance or purpose or whatever you want to call it of the albums themselves.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 25, 2010 @ 20:43:40

      Well, firstly, I applaud you on using the words logos and pathos, and I hope to eventually win some ethos from you! Anywho, you raise an excellent point, but my opinion is that you can have the best message in the world, but if the lyrics and music get in the way, then I won’t connect with that message. And I bring up the point of this one lady who made Nazi propaganda films – the message they are spreading is pure filth, but they are beautifully and artfully made films. I think it comes down to different strokes for different folks – I’m fine with a banal meaning if it means there’s music I can dance to, and I don’t care what purpose the music and lyrics are serving if I can’t enjoy them.

      Reply

  16. Betsy
    May 30, 2010 @ 20:27:59

    Haha. I don’t think you garnered the death wishes of every MoM fangirl out there. I probably am one, actually. I mean, I know all their names and can match up the voices to the names just like I could (er still can–I admit, I’m still a huge fan) with The Backstreet Boys, and I listen to pretty much all of their other musical projects, so I assume that qualifies me for the title of fangirl.

    Definitely agree that The Battle of Hogwarts track was pretty epic. I think my favorite song off the album was probably I May Lose Everything. I just really like the juxtaposition of good and evil in it or something. Call To Arms was a pretty weak song, I agree with that. I mostly just listen to it for the line “leaving only Nagini now,” which for some reason I really like. All in all, I think you gave a good and fair review. I haven’t bought Demons at the Helm yet, so I can’t really speak about your fairness in that review (although, considering you were perfectly fair here I can’t imagine why, you’d be unfair there). I haven’t even read your review of that in it’s entirety, although I have seen the whole “worst wrock album ever” line or whatever you said. That may factor into my decision on whether or not to buy it as I gear up for another spree of buying wizard rock off of iTunes.

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      May 31, 2010 @ 01:16:55

      Basically, Demons at the Helm is a good album, but it’s not wizard rock. It’s half meta-wrock, half Matt Maggiacamo-rock. If you like MoM, though, you should definitely get “A Conversation With My Demons”, and get “Walk” as well, because it’s SO GOOD.

      Reply

  17. Trackback: 2010 in Review – Not What You Think « The Wrock Snob

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