Even a cursory glance of our biweekly “What Heavy Blog Is Really Listening To” posts (last weeks update here) will reveal that there is a great deal of variety among our staff’s musical tastes. Due to this, we brainstormed the idea of “Playlist Swap,” another biweekly segment that takes place between playlist updates. We randomly select two of the participants from each update, have them pick their favorite track from each of the nine albums in their grid and then send the list over to the other person to listen to and comment on. Within these commentaries occurs praise, criticism and discovery, and we hope that you experience a few instances of this last point as well. This week’s post brought staff members Matt MacLennan and Noyan Tokgozoglu together to peruse each other’s tastes:
Matt’s Grid & Noyan’s Thoughts
Noyan: Matt and I both like angry and heavy stuff, but in quite different ways! He’s really into hardcore-influenced stuff, and that’s among my least favorite subgenres of metal. Hence this is a swap with some potential, as I expect to find some stuff that I overlooked because of my prejudice. In the end, some of it didn’t really click with me, but some of it really did, more so than I expected! Seriously though Matt, seems like you seem to have some anger issues bro.
Converge – Petitioning The Empty Sky – “Shingles”
Matt’s Pick: Listening to a lot more of the early Converge releases at the momenent as my life used to begin and end with Jane Doe. This one is all kinds of crazy.
Noyan’s Thoughts: I’m not a huge Converge fan because I could never grasp what they try to do musically, but this song is pretty cool. The riffing is neat at times but at other times it’s kinda basic. I dig the anger and general mood, but I wouldn’t listen to this stuff regularly, it’s too hardcore-influenced for me. Really enjoyed the atonal tapping break in the middle though, there’s definitely a time for this kind of stuff, it’s just that I’m not usually in the mood for it. Also, I don’t really enjoy the vocals, but that’s not really a deal breaker.
Cult of Luna – Somewhere Along The High Way – “Back To Chapel Town”
Matt’s Pick: Just one of the best tracks from one of the best albums to have been recorded. But that’s just my opinion.
Noyan’s Thoughts: Honestly, never really got into Cult of Luna either, because they’ve just been too slow for my tastes. I listen to metal to be energized or feel melancholic, and this evokes neither in me. It’s a cool song with strong production and musicianship, it’s just that nothing really happens in it, it’s just slow chords – or at least that’s how I feel about it because I don’t know how to appreciate it. I fully accept that this is my fault though, as it’s not a bad song, but just not for me. Oh well!
Norma Jean – Wrongdoers – “Funeral Singer”
Matt’s Pick: Has all that ferocity which makes Norma Jean a riot, hits as many feels as it does faces though.
Noyan’s Thoughts: This is more my speed. Due to whatever reason, I never got into Norma Jean, even though I probably should have. I just discovered them when I was into other stuff, and never went back to rectify that. This song is cool, as it’s energetic and angry, with a cool main riff and a decent chorus. Norma Jean’s brand of metalcore isn’t my preferred flavor of the subgenre, but I can definitely jam this song.
Frontierer – Orange Mathematics – “Mt. Swath”
Matt’s Pick: Just one of the multitude of utterly punishing tracks on this punishing album.
Noyan’s Thoughts: I’ve been meaning to check out this album, so this is a great opportunity. Very angry, dissonant and thick. This is great stuff, and even though I’m not big on mathcore the sheer power of it makes it compelling – listening to the song feels like what looking deeply into the artwork feels like. The riffing just sounds so satisfying and the notes hit at just the right times to get me going. This is a really cool album, and I’m glad I finally got to check it out. Now time to dig deeper.
A Dark Orbit – Inverted – “Proper Skin”
Matt’s Pick: Dark, heavy and full of that beautiful brown note. Throat is sore listening to the vocals on this.
Noyan’s Thoughts: This song is like a mix of Frontierer-style modern aggression and sludgewave, it seems. However, without the technical playing and rhythmic creativity of Frontierer, and the over-reliance on low chugs like sludgewave, it feels stuck somewhere in between and doesn’t hit as hard as either by themselves can. The end result is mid-tempo chugging with monotone, angry vocals, and while that might works for some as it’s pretty angry, there isn’t really enough meat here for it to satisfy me. Near the end the song gets more interesting with some slightly more interesting riffing, but this isn’t really my cup of tea, mate.
Call Of The Void – Dragged Down A Dead End Path – “I Hope You Two Fuck”
Matt’s Pick: Couldn’t be a playlist without some filthy grind, could it? I truly do hope that you two fuck. Whoever you are.
Noyan’s Thoughts: At this point it’s pretty obvious that I’m not really into hardcore-y music that’s just pure anger. The d-beat middle riff of this song just sounds cheesy to me, like all d-beat. I’ve got to say that the blast beat section a bit after the middle was definitely cool, and the slow part near the end with the big chords was a great follow-up as well. More of that and less d-beat please. When I turned this on and heard the d-beat, I was already planning on saying “the best thing about this song that it’s over” when it ended, but that actually became a double entendre because its abrupt ending was actually pretty cool. So yeah, as I said. More blasts and big chords, less overdone hardcore riffs. No offense Matt!
Svffer – Lies We Live – “Insomnia”
Matt’s Pick: Maybe my favourite song called “Insomnia”. More crusty violence that leaves grime in your ears.
Noyan’s Thoughts: Well, this is like Call of the Void, but way better. Instead of tired hardcore riffs we have hardcore riffs that contain drive and hit hard. This is anger done right, and for some reason this really clicked with me. It’s all about execution after all! Surprisingly, this one ended up being one of the songs that I like the most on this list. Weird!
Dr. Dre – Compton – “For The Love Of Money”
Matt’s Pick: Haven’t stopped singing this since I heard it. Great damn movie. Even better soundtrack.
Noyan’s Thoughts: I’m not a big fan of hip-hop that’s not grime (yo Matt you’re from the UK, next time hook me up with some Skepta or Tempz), but this was pretty good. Never really dug into Dre’s discography, but seems like he’s still got it. Rap in general is very hit and miss for me as it’s not really my thing, but this song is solid. The bass beat is deep, the verses hit hard and the flow, especially Dre’s, is great. Thumbs up.
The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – Danza IIII – “The Alpha / The Omega”
Matt’s Pick: Best track on an album I intermittenly binge on. Gets fierce with the vocal cameos.
Noyan’s Thoughts: The only song on this list that I was familiar with beforehand! Danza were great, and even though this wasn’t their best album (I’d say II was), the song is still solid. The riffing and production are neat, the guest spots are well-utilized and overall it all works well. I wasn’t the biggest Danza fan, but it’s a shame they’re gone!
Noyan’s Grid & Matt’s Thoughts
Matt: I’ve always been cautiously aware of how little my music taste seems to deviate, from looking at my last.fm anyway. I stay hiddem under a blanket of noise primarily. Jumping into Noyan’s playlist was pretty daunting but I came out having heard a bunch of stuff I’d honestly never have considered checking out. Will it encourage me to break out of my routines? Ask me again next year. I just hope that I’m not fired if Noyan hates all of this. Dre might be my saving grace on this depraved list.
Good Tiger – A Head Full Of Moonlight – “Where Are The Birds”
Noyan’s Pick: This album is an instant classic for me, and the opener track is a stand-out and a great introduction. If this doesn’t click with someone, the rest won’t either, so it’s a good pick for something like this.
Matt’s Thoughts: First up, I had no idea what to expect when hitting play on Good Tiger. Literally, no idea. I’ve avoided the band for as long as they’ve been a thing and now, I probably won’t be going back to them anytime soon. “Where Are The Birds(?)” sits somewhere between the radio friendly grooves of Alien Ant Farm (who I love) and the insufferable, chalkboard meets nails vocals of Youmeatsix (who I don’t love). I’d turn this off if it came on the raido. It is always lovely hearing Alex Rudinger but there’s only so much he can do to make dull music more interesting. These guys really do just make up the sum of their parts.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication – “Get On Top”
Noyan’s Pick: On the other hand, this song is one of the more underrated tracks on the album, compared to the singles at least. It hearkens back to RHCP’s funkier era while still having a taste of their alt-rock sound, so I wanted to highlight it.
Matt’s Thoughts: I never listen to the Chilis anymore and that’s pretty lame. I forgot just how fun Flea makes every track on this album, especially “Get On Top”. There’s a hum and buzz on this track that resonates from the always punchy grooves of Flea and the drums, it’s hard to shake after listening. Typical display from Kiedis on this one; equal partss beach bum and new age salesman. When I first started playing music, this was the album that I learne a little bit of every song from. Just to say I could play. I might have to go back now and learn this whole track.
Leprous – Bilateral – “Forced Entry”
Noyan’s Pick: This is one of my favorite songs ever, as it covers a range of emotions, has so much cool stuff in it and is quite long. I love this song so much that I have a hard time describing it without just getting giddy and over-nerding-out, so just listen to it.
Matt’s Thoughts: The first of Noyan’s selections that hits “long track” territory and I actually made it through the whole ten minutes. From what I can gather, the first movement of “Forced Entry” is all about getting the head bobbing and getting that initial rhythm imprinted into the listeners brain. Moving through the track I lost interest but I kept coming back to those initial few minutes. After digesting the song a few more times I established I love a lot of elements of Leprous‘ sound, I just can’t jam this ten minute progressive metal stuff. It sounds amazing, clear and lavish but there’s a lot of beige in between moments of lovely aural colour. Shout out to every Dream Theater riff I heard in this track too.
Raising The Veil – Boson Quantvm Phenomena – “Compactor Of Structure”
Noyan’s Pick: I was reviewing this album, and this is one of the better songs on it. My review of these guys is fairly recent, so it’s better to check that for my thoughts on this.
Matt’s Thoughts: Knew this was going to be a great slab of tech death just from the album art. Raising The Veil don’t have the kind of cold, pristine clean sound that is the worst part of this particular metal subgenre. Instead they have a really boisterous approach in jamming riff after riff into string shredding lead work. The main riff that pops up throughout the track is catchy as hell. This is the kind of metal that makes me excited to listen to more metal, as silly as that may sound. Kept my attention for the duration, so points there too.
Bloodshot Dawn – Demons – “Unified”
Noyan’s Pick: Demons is also one of my all-time favorite albums, and this song is just so fucking great. So catchy, heavy and overall an incredible song. Best choruses, best interlude, best riffs.
Matt’s Thoughts: Another chance for this lot to impress me goes by with not much of a fight. I appreciate their melodeath/thrash as much as I would have hearing this a decade ago, but this kind of metal doesn’t hit my sweet spot any more. I can forgive the lyrics and vocals even at their most obvious and predictable, that’s not what kills “Unified” for me, but the feeling I get immediately after listening to this? Vacancy, that’s the killer. I’d need to go and listen to it again right away to remember anything about it. As a barometer for their sound in general, this probably isn’t the best track for me to base anything off.
Emperor – Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise – “Empty”
Noyan’s Pick: Emperor’s final album is their most intriguing, as it skirts into avant-garde territory, and I love weird stuff. Empty is a good exemplar of their sound on Prometheus, and it’s the single as well, so it’s a good starting point.
Matt’s Thoughts: I know this is ass backwards but I have maybe listened to Emperor a couple of times. My problem was regarding them as one of a bunch of bands I just wanted to steer clear of (any black metal band). When I did listen to them, I was expecting “trv” black metal or something. I found that the nightmarish sounds and synths that overpopulate this song take me to a place that Pyrrhon do today. The overpopulated arrangements and piercing sounds are pretty fucked up and I approve. Then there’s that black metal sound I don’t like and I’m left torn.
Corpo-Mente – Corpo Mente – “Arsalein”
Noyan’s Pick: One of the criminally underrated releases of this year. This little nugget avant-garde brilliance is easily enjoyable by anyone, and this is the most memorable track for me, and possibly the one that encapsulates the band’s antics the best.
Matt’s Thoughts: This song is fucking cool. Very nostalgic in that it reminds me of the first times I heard King Crimson and Focus. That ridiculously smooth beat behind a vocal so strong that it totally commands the song, flowing in and out. As the song winds down Corpo-Mente keep biffing me out with music I would deem fit for soundtracking any of the most stylish movies of the last decade. It’s really intensely cinematic and blows Muse out of the water with very little effort. The booming, operatic rock that the trio fail to realise is present on this slice of odd.
Arkona – Yav – “Zarozhdenie”
Noyan’s Pick: Yet another criminally underrated release, so I try to plug them whenever I can (including our podcast). This progressive folk metal album (not in the cheesy sense of power prog but blackened, eery folk) is really cool and feels quite authentic, and I just love this song.
Matt’s Thoughts: The first minute of “Zarozhdenie” had me expecting a drop into a 90’s dance anthem, I kid thee not. This gets a bit too folk/prog for my blood but is full of cool movements that swell in volume and instrument population. Actually, there is a lot going on, more so than I find necessary but I like the wide array of vocals used, in backing also. Can see plenty in just this track to merit them the fans they most certainly have.
The Agonist – Lullabies For The Dormant Mind – “…and Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep”
Noyan’s Pick: This is probably the angriest Agonist song, so I figured Matt would like it. Alissa’s screaming is on point, the riffing is fast and heavy, and the song has quite a few interesting twists and turns throughout its course. It keeps getting heavier and heavier in different ways. Great track.
Matt’s Thoughts: Total keeper. This one is making me kick myself for not listening to this band back when this came out. I’d have lapped this up and been back for more. This track scratches somewhere in between my shoulder blades, European metalcore and the more dramatic elements of the select tracks I enjoy from Cradle Of Filth. I’m digging through The Agonist’s back catalogue now. I hope this isn’t the one track I love.
-SM, MM & NT