Review: Æther Realm – Tarot Jun22

Review: Æther Realm – Tarot

I want you to imagine a record that has the folksy edge of Ensiferum combined with the melodic complexity of Wintersun all delivered through this very Mors Principium Est sounding package. That, in a nutshell, is Æther Realm‘s Tarot. Sounds delicious, right? But let’s step back for a moment. If you haven’t heard of Æther Realm, I’m not surprised. Their 2013 debut, One Chosen by the Gods, which though a laudable effort in its own right, was a bit too overt in its Wintersun meets Ensiferum worship, and came off as more novelty than anything of actual substance. Nevertheless, if you did happen to stumble upon it, Gods...

Review: Nokturnal Mortum – Verity May26

Review: Nokturnal Mortum – Verity

Nokturnal Mortum is one of those bands that everybody should know but very few actually do. And as I stated in my vinyl follow-up about the band’s 2009 magnum opus, The Voice of Steel, a big part of that has to do with their now former association with the NSBM movement early on in their career. But over the last decade, the band has tried to distance themselves from said movement and in the process rebrand themselves as a fairly prototypical blackened folk metal band. In fact in 2014, lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and the band’s spiritual leader, Varggoth, addressed some of these issues head on by stating that since the...

Review: Ungfell – Tôtbringære Apr28

Review: Ungfell – Tôtbringære

Let’s go deep underground. Ungfell is a two man Swiss outfit who first garnered some attention when they passed around an interesting little demo that contained prototypical black metal featuring an accordion (amongst other unorthodox instrumentation as well). That in itself is certainly attention grabbing to the say the very least. Yet even without all the instrument gimmickry, the demo itself was also littered with a number of intriguing riffs in its own right, and Ungfell built themselves quite a small but dedicated little following among those who heard it. Now two years later they’re back with their full-length debut...

Metal-Fi’s Audioengine B2 Giveaway! Apr11

Metal-Fi’s Audioengine B2 Giveaway!

Audioengine has been gracious enough to sponsor our very first giveaway! If you’ve already read my reviews of the HD3 and HD6 speaker systems, then you already have a good idea of what to expect from the B2. Think 60 watts of headbangin’ fun streamed over an extended range Bluetooth connection all wrapped up in a handsome modular little woody package. What more could you ask for? Don’t be shy and enter to win! And of course if the metal gods should happen to show favor upon you, please post your impressions of the B2 here or in the forums so other MF’iers can live vicariously through you. Good luck and have fun!...

Review: Havok – Conformicide Mar17

Review: Havok – Conformicide

Let me tell you how this review is suppose to go: First, I tell you that Havok is a Denver based collective whose main weapon of choice is the riff. I then explain how the band is one of the few that are still relevant today despite being unquestionably retro-thrash and proceed to point out that 2011’s Time Is Up is probably one of the strongest records to come out of said retro movement. I follow-up with a brief overview of their latest, entitled Conformicide, pointing out its various high points to underscore the fact that David Sanchez and Co. really do know how to throw down. Finally and disappointedly, I end with a Steely D...

Review: Audioengine HD3 Powered Speakers Mar15

Review: Audioengine HD3 Powered Speakers

Introduction One of the very first pieces of audio gear that I wanted to upgrade when I was a wee lad were my computer speakers. My first set came with a Dell desktop system my parents bought me when I was a senior in high school to prepare for college. They were small, rectangular, and sounded terrible – zero bass or treble to speak of with a really muddy midrange. And I loved them. When they finally died I decided to up my game by buying a complete 5.1 surround system made by Sound Blaster. I don’t remember the exact model but the two front satellites were actually bigger than my Dell’s, with the center channel placed on...

Spoti-fi? Mar03

Spoti-fi?

As reported by The Verge via a posting on Reddit, Spotify is now testing an upgraded service that will allow its premium subscribers to stream losslessly for an additional $5 or $10 a month. Although Spotify would not confirm or deny the allegation when asked about it by Billboard, I suspect given the number of users who reported receiving an email to sign-up for the new service, they are indeed testing a new “hi-fi” service. But should you care? Let me first give you the audiophile party-line: Lossy streaming is evil and always has been since its inception. In fact the MP3 and its ilk have single handily ruined a generation of...

Review: Audeze iSINE 10/20 In-Ear Monitors Feb13

Review: Audeze iSINE 10/20 In-Ear Monitors

Introduction Over the last few years, Audeze has gotten a lot traction in the prosumer marketplace. It first started with the EL-8 series ($699), an open-back and closed headphone design that featured many of Audeze’s planar magnetic technologies all wrapped in a snazzy German designed package. Perhaps even more importantly though, the EL-8 also became the launching pad for the CIPHER, a 24-bit DAC with DSP Lightning cable that provides an end-to-end audiophile class solution for any iDevice. Then of course came the SINE ($449), the world’s first on-ear planar magnetic headphone and really the company’s first...

Review: iFi Audio’s Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier Feb09

Review: iFi Audio’s Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier

Introduction As I sure many of you are already acutely aware of, we’re big fans of iFi Audio. You see unlike a lot of vendors who treat their circuit designs as if they were highly classified secrets, iFi is very open and honest about all of their products. In fact, iFi is one of the few companies I know of that even freely shares high-resolution pictures of every circuit board they fabricate. Couple that with the fact that these Brits are very community focused, vetting feature and collecting feedback constantly, makes iFi, at least to our ears, one of the defacto leaders in the low- to mid-tier marketplace. So when iFi announced...