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The Internet has guaranteed that everyone is a cultural critic, no matter how shaky your command of the English language or knowledge of the subject. That’s especially true in a genre like metal, where people have unbelievably strong opinions about albums that might be lucky to sell 500 copies.

A site called Horns of the Devil exists to separate the wheat from the chaff, the troo from the poo. The site went live last March and aims to aggregate the best – or at least the most credible – metal reviews on the web. The editors at Horns take an album’s various grades and use a formula to calculate an overall score. It works a lot like the wildly popular movie site Rotten Tomatoes, where aggregate scores are used to determine if a movie is 'fresh" or "rotten". I'm not sure I needed the site to tell me that 2012 was a cinematic abortion, but that's another conversation.

The results are often entertaining and will certainly fuel debate. I enjoy Ghost’s Opus Eponymous (aggregate rating 86, reviewed here) but honestly don’t think it’s better than the new Deathspell Omega (rating 79, reviewed here). There are even more reasons to quibble with the year’s best and worst albums, even if they claim it's just the numbers. While I wholeheartedly agree that Bring Me the Horizon recorded one of the worst albums of the year, if not ever (it was like being held hostage at Hot Topic by kids from the drama club), I don’t think Heathen recorded the seventh best album of the year. And did Circle of Dead Children deserve to be on the worst list? The album didn’t floor me, but it wasn’t Ov Hell. It seems like some writers just don’t get grind.

The site has flaws. Some would argue the numbers are off because sites like ours that don’t assign a grade or a numerical rank aren’t counted, and print publications like Decibel and Terrorizer aren’t in the mix. Knowledgeable blogs like Grind and Punishment are also left out. While the layout is crisp and easy to navigate, there’s no need for the Blabbermouth news ticker; most readers will simply go to the main site. There are also strengths: the most telling lines are lifted from wordy and dense reviews that aren’t reader-friendly. The editors do a good job in finding the heart of a review.

Horns of the Devil is an interesting experiment. But metal fans are so fickle and opinionated that I wonder if an “aggregate” album score matters to them. [Ed. note: metal-archives.com also uses an "Average rating" system.] I'm not sure Mayhem's Deathcrush would have fared too well using this method.

— Justin M. Norton

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