I would like to open this yearly review on a personal note: human understanding is incredibly limited in many ways. One of the most prominent ways is our perception of time; beyond any metaphysical assertions that might often “grace” metal lyrics, I’m not talking about any extra-dimensional ideas on the…
Lists. People love them and love to hate them. There is always going to be a bunch of things to criticize end-of-year lists about, and many of those criticisms will always have merit. Placing any sort of artificially-objective construct onto something that is as wholly subjective a thing as listening…
It’s non-trivial to compute a ranked list of best albums given the opinions of 31 different writers. We could go the lazy way and just have staff argue and editors decide what the AOTY is, but that’s unfair to everyone and is way too authoritarian. We could just have people pool votes, but that leads to way too many conflicts between albums with the same amount of votes (which editors need to resolve, which is unfair and upsets people), we could assign a particular value for each rank, have everyone rank their albums, and add up all the ranks. But that also has its own set of problems, and how do you set the values? As you can see, it’s non-trivial. Sure, you could just pick either of these schemes or anything else, but why do that when you can do something that is a lot more mathematically grounded? Since I’m essentially a statistician by trade (kind of), of course I’m going to try to do that. So here’s me explaining what I did, and sharing my code for anyone else interested in doing it the “””objectively correct””” way.
As a genre, stoner doom has some fairly definitive characteristics: slowed-down tempos, rumbling low-end bass and rhythm, a focus on mountainous, hypnotic riffs, and a certain intangible haze cast over it all, creating a psychedelic-glazed listening experience. But perhaps most importantly, stoner metal worships at the altar of marijuana. Proudly wearing its influence on its sleeve (and name), stoner metal varyingly employs marijuana as a muse, a political rallying cause, an artistic aesthetic, and generally as the raison d’etre for the (sub)genre as a whole. From the smoke-filled cough intro in Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” to Sleep’s epic journey to Jerusalem to Dopelord carrying the genre’s torch in one hand and a bong in the other, stoner doom is fundamentally and un-apologetically intertwined with marijuana. And yet, as firm of a grip as the green leaf has on the genre, there are contingents within the stoner doom scene that don’t embrace weed with the same fervor as their counterparts. Indeed, as counter-intuitive as it seems, examples abound of bands in the stoner doom realm that either explicitly or implicitly eschew the very association with marijuana that the scene largely views as a prerequisite.
The following article is a collaboration between editors Jonathan Adams and Scott Murphy. Before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear—we and Decibel (“America’s only monthly extreme music magazine”) agree that 2017 has been an exceptional year for death metal. Jonathan has highlighted countless fantastic death metal albums this…
There’s an inherent alchemy required to successfully combine two seemingly disparate forces into something new. Famous, enduring pairings can be volatile and even counter-intuitive at first glance, but when done properly the result can be something far greater than the sum of each part. Peanut butter and jelly are each perfectly enjoyable on their own, but when paired together they create one of the most well-known and universally enjoyed sandwiches in modern history. Likewise, Calvin is a perfectly funny — albeit bratty – cartoon character and, similarly, Hobbes is a charming and occasionally profound tiger. But it’s their pairing that creates something greater: a friendship that serves as a vehicle for an entire comic strip, a philosophical and temperamental foil for each character to bounce off, and the sheer intangible joy the strip provides readers by allowing us to live inside their friendship. By fusing two independently enjoyable ingredients, an effective pairing can not only allow for a greater appreciation of the pair’s individual components, it can simultaneously create something richer and more meaningful in the magic as well.
Let’s state facts: Clrvynt’s preface to “The Director of ‘Maryland Deathfest: The Movie’:’Metal is the Fucking Worst'” (this is literally how the post’s title was formatted by the way, I didn’t change it) is bullshit. Running an article filled with borderline/not-really-borderline-at-all misogyny, homophobia, and very palpable hatred for a huge swath of the community you’re part of is a terrible thing to do. However, if you’ve already decided to do that, don’t cop out by writing a six-line preface nominally denouncing the opinions contained therein. At least own the fact that you’re giving shitty opinions a stage and have some honesty.
Last week, Invisible Oranges made a very good case for the death of deathcore citing the absolute disasters that Suicide Silence and Emmure put out this year, the diminishing commercial success of the genre, and the disappointing follow-ups of some of the genre’s most promising acts. To be clear, there is no defending Suicide Silence and Emmure, but there is more to deathcore’s story to be told in 2017 and beyond.
Set stage: 2004, Finland. Former Ensiferum frontman Jari Maenpaa releases his debut semi-solo album under the name Wintersun. Featuring a unique blend of power metal, prog, folk, symphony and black metal, this powerful album is met with wide acclaim. Two years later, the recording process for the follow-up begins, with a release date of 2007. The follow-up releases in 2012, and is split into two, with the second part being promised for later in the year. Five years later, the follow up is no longer coming, and Jari announces a new project with basically the same line-up. What the hell happened? Let’s take a look.
Last year I took it upon myself not only to organize and compile our own staff’s AOTY list, but to take things one insane step further and compile a bunch of lists from major metal or metal-covering publications and websites into one MEGA AOTY list to rule them all. Eden and I then analyzed the list and made some (mostly snarky) comments about the metal journalism industry and how they approach these sorts of things. Though I still 100% stand by what we wrote there and the conclusions we drew from it, I was really interested in seeing how well some of them would stand up to another year to use as a data point. Thankfully, this year I had a lot of help in all of our list-making efforts thanks to fellow editor Noyan, who put a ton of work into coming up with the method we ended up using to aggregate our lists (if you haven’t already, you should absolutely read his post delving into the nitty-gritty of that methodology) and then did the actual number-crunching.