My reviews make use of two rating systems. They aim to 1) distinguish my personal appreciation of a record from my “objective” appreciation of it, and 2) form an accurate summary of my feelings towards the record in question.
1. SUBJECTIVE STAR RATING SYSTEM (SSRS)
The subjective star rating system consists of a rating on a 5-star gradient, in two categories; one is my personal appreciation (the Personal Rating), the other estimates how much I would recommend the record to other people (the Recommendation Rating; remember that this is how much I would recommend it, not how much I feel someone would like it). This allows me to effectively distinguish records that I like very much, but would not enthusiastically recommend (whether the record is an acquired taste or simply not essential in the context of a genre or an artist’s discography), as well as albums that I don’t like, but that I feel others would appreciate more.
*****: Masterpiece. One of my favorites.
****½: Great. I find it worth coming back to often.
****: Very Good. Nothing life-changing, but a legitimate success nonetheless.
***½: Good. Worth keeping in spite of certain notable flaws.
***: Solid. Competent, but not much more than respectable in what it aims to do.
**½: Average. Displays serious signs of misfire, but retains a few redeeming qualities.
**: Mediocre. It isn’t entirely devoid of interest, but good points are few and far between.
*½: Bad. Something that is listenable, but offers a very unsatisfying listening experience.
*: Awful. Outright unpleasant to listen to.
½: Worthless. It’s best to avoid it altogether.
[0 stars]: Something so terrible it stuns in a similar way a 5-star record would.
*****: A must-own; your collection is worth little without it.
****½: A highly essential release. If you can get it, get it now.
****: Most definitely worth purchasing. If you want it, buy it soon.
***½: Nothing essential, but still recommended. If you want it, buy it eventually.
***: People who are into that kind of music could like it, but not necessarily others.
**½: Only for fans, but even then, think a bit before getting it.
**: Only for major fans of that sort of music.
*½: Only if you have nothing else to get.
*: Only for hardcore completists.
½: Even its value to a collector or completist is questionable.
[0 stars]: No one should get it.
2. LETTERED RATING SYSTEM (LRS)
This (very tacky) rating system aims to represent an “objective” opinion of a record. In other words, it depends not just on my own appreciation of it, but also on other, more objective factors, such as its originality or its importance in the context of a genre or an artist’s discography. This rating system has more positive ratings than negative ratings, as I deem it more useful to immediately distinguish good records from one another than it is to distinguish bad records from one another.
DISCIPLINE TIER RANKS
A+: The greatest record ever made. Only Discipline by King Crimson gets such a rating. 11/10.
GOD TIER RANKS
Omega: A virtually perfect record; very few among the best come close to this rank. High 10/10.
Lambda: A definitive masterpiece; such a record firmly establishes an artist as legendary. Solid 10/10.
Epsilon: A near-masterpiece, and an overall essential release. High 9/10 to Low 10/10.
ELITE TIER RANKS
Delta: Great; an “average masterpiece”. Solid 9/10.
Gamma: More than very good; almost a “minor classic”. High 8/10 to Low 9/10.
Beta: Very good; nothing particularly ground-breaking, but still very competent. Solid 8/10.
UPPER MID-TIER RANKS
Alpha: More than good; imperfect, but worthy of attention. High 7/10 to Low 8/10.
A: Good; it’s no classic, but it has quite a bit to offer. Solid 7/10.
A-: Pretty good; there is definitely something to it, even if it’s not fully exploited. Low 7/10.
B+: Somewhat good; it’s second-rate, but it shows signs of something more. High 6/10.
B: Solid; it doesn’t amaze, but its flaws don’t quite spoil the experience. Solid 6/10.
B-: Less than solid; it’s almost just OK, but noticeable problems bog it down. Low 6/10.
LOWER MID-TIER RANKS
C+: Above average; the good overtakes the bad, but only barely. High 5/10.
C: Purely average; neither the good or bad aspects outweigh each other. Solid 5/10.
C-: Below average; more bad than good, but not necessarily terrible. Solid 4/10 to Low 5/10.
D+: Mediocre; something barely saved by a few redeeming aspects. High 3/10 to Solid 4/10.
D: Bad; whether it’s listenable or not, it offers a thoroughly uninteresting experience. Solid 3/10.
D-: Worse than bad; its flaws can potentially lead to irritation. Low 3/10.
BOTTOM TIER RANKS
E: Awful; the listening experience it offers is not only unsatisfying, but outright aggravating to the ears and to the mind. 2/10.
F: Almost worthless; it offers so little that it’s better to forget about it. 1/10.
ZERO: A release that somehow outright refuses to be appraised or appreciated, and thus is completely worthless on a listening standpoint. 0/10.
All album reviews feature a track listing. So as to immediately differentiate the high points from the low points, songs may be written in different colors, in the same fashion as early Internet-era music critic George Starostin.
Songs written in red are highlights.
Songs written normally are not particularly good or bad in comparison to the rest of the material.
Songs written in blue are lowlights.