AMA is Heavy Blog’s monthly community Q&A column, where readers ask questions across the gamut, and we are legally required by the universal laws of “AMA” to answer them! These are edited and excerpted transcripts. To see full transcripts and participate in future conversations, join the Heavy Blog Facebook Community Group!
Hello and welcome once again to the one place where we answer the most burning and pressing questions of the day from you! This month we discussed some of our favorite progressive albums, keeping track of the many albums we listen to and want to listen to, favorite albums to bask in fall to, alternative names to this very site, and more! See you next time when the site is called musicisbadactually.com!
Joe asks: What’s your all-time favourite progressive album? I’ll let you define “progressive” however you wish.
Trent Bos: First thing that comes to my head is Cynic – Traced in Air
Eden Kupermintz: Can’t really choose one so I’m going to cheat and divide it into sub-categories:
1) Classic prog album: Yes – Relayer. It’s really hard to explain how amazing this album is. It still blows SO MUCH of progressive rock out of the water, even though it was released in ’74. From the main song, a prog epic if there ever was one, to “Soon”, probably one of the most moving songs ever written, it’s just a fucking masterpiece. That’s it. No other album, even among all of the amazing albums that “classic” prog has produced even comes close to this album for me. Musical perfection.
2) Progressive metal: Dream Theater – Falling Into Infinity. I’ve made this hot take elsewhere before, also on the blog itself, but this is my favorite Dream and probably my favorite prog metal album. I fully recognize it’s not their best, “””objectively”””, but I feel like it has some of the most evocative, deep, and moving songs ever. Trial of Tears, Lines in the Sand, Hell’s Kitchen, are all masterpieces of progressive metal, from before Dream Theater fell into the hole of all shred, all the time (don’t get me wrong, I love all the albums that came after this, up until Octavarium which was flawed but also good in its way). Just non-stop great riffs, great song-writing, and warm, “full” execution.
3) Current progressive favorite: The Tea Club – If/When. This album is like a mix of Yes, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd at their most contrast full. It has soft, soft songs and then maddening rushes into progressive, sprawling, heavy articulation. It also have some of the best lyrics of any progressive rock album ever, sending home some really complex messages around the future, nostalgia, memory, loss, love, passion, and more. Extremely underrated release.
Noyan: I feel like everything has some sort of prog adjacency these days so I’ll stick to something that is purely progressive metal, and pick Dream Theater’s Train of Thought. I think that’s when everyone was at their best, the band was firing on all cylinders and balancing being emotional, hard-hitting riffs and cool progressive metal nonsense.
Jordan Jerabek: Mastodon’s Blood Mountain floors me today exactly as it did back in 2006. No matter how much I listen, I cannot tire of their impeccable and adventurous songwriting or dull the edge of their ludicrous riffage and perfectly honed hooks. For me, nothing else checks the boxes quite like this record, it feels custom-tailored.
Scott Murphy: Going to come out of left field and shout out the first album that came to mind: Madvillainy. It’s not the first weird, abstract hip-hop album, but it’s easily the most groundbreaking contemporary landmark in the genre. There are many trends and staples of modern hip-hop, abstract and otherwise, that this album inspired. Plus it’s absolutely fantastic.
Jimmy Rowe: It should be no surprise that Between the Buried and Me‘s Colors had a profound effect on me and the kind of music I listen to.
Calder Dougherty: For years I would have answered this with Dream Theater’s Scenes From A Memory. But, for the simple fact that 17 years later I am still listening to it and love it as much as I did when I discovered it, the honor has to go to Deloused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta.
Josh Bulleid: Tool’s Lateralus is a contender for my all-time favourite album of all time, so I’d have to go with that. When I hear the term “progressive,” however, the first artists I think of are Ihsahn and Enslaved. Their 2010 albums After and Axioma Ethica Odini are probably my two favourite black metal records, so those as well. The Ocean’s Pelagial is another one that immediately springs to mind.
Karlo Doroc: Ne Obliviscaris’ Citadel for the way different sounds and genres come together, The Ocean’s Pelagial for the way an album flows.
Pete Williams: Rush – Moving Pictures. All you need is “Limelight” and “YYZ”.
John asks: If you had a day with Miles Davis would you rather walk, cook, relax, work, or steam with him?
Nick Cusworth: Shit, man. I’d like to say jam with him, but dude was intimidating and demanding as fuck, and there is no way my ego would be able to deal with him dunking on me. So probably just walk around, relax, and listen to him tell incredible stories from all the shit he saw and was a part of.
Eden Kupermintz: Not the world’s biggest jazz fan but I’d love to walk with him and pick his brain. He was a really interesting person with a unique perspective on the world, by all accounts.
Josh Bulleid: I don’t have any particular reverence for Miles Davis, but I really miss having a bathtub. So I’d have to go with “steam”—assuming you mean some kind of sauna-situation, not a drug euphemism.
Pete Williams: Go for a walk with him. I don’t have the background in jazz to know why the man is so ridiculously important, but I know good music when I hear it. I just want to know how his mind works, so just going for a walk and letting him talk about whatever sounds like the best way to go.
Scott Murphy: The correct answer is, “Cook with Miles Davis while listening to Cookin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet.” Personally, I’d love to just sit and watch him play. The footage I’ve seen of him is mesmerizing, my favorite clip being him performing “So What.” He’s such a passionate musician with a distinct voice; I instantly know it’s him every time I hear his trumpet playing.
John asks: How do you organize your listening time? Eden has a crazy system with a spreadsheet, right? what about the rest of y’all?
Eden Kupermintz: “a spreadsheet”
Try a browser extension, a Kanban board, two different music players and a spreadsheet ;)
Nick Cusworth: I think pretty much all of the editors have a spreadsheet they use to keep track of albums we’ve listened to and enjoyed. In terms of figuring out what to listen to, I’m honestly in a position similar to all of you, and I rely heavily on our Release Day Roundup posts.
Jimmy Rowe: I just take Eden’s shortlist from the editors picks and give those a spin. Really though, lately it’s this community and my network of online friends that informs what I spin from month to month.
Joe Astill: I use Notion nowadays for logging albums I want to check out. It has a great little feature that lets you create a table and I just find it really appealing and easy to use. I NEVER manage to get through everything on there however, just because of the sheer amount of it. I occasionally get quite frustrated with myself at not managing to be the ultimate music fan and listen to every goddamn thing that comes out and that I’m interested in, but I try and remind myself of the initial reason I got into all of this and that tends to bring me back to simply enjoying great fucking music rather than stressing about STILL having the new Fleet Foxes, Napalm Death and Duma albums to catch up on.
Jordan Jerabek: My Bandcamp wishlist holds most of what I want to kick the tires on. It’s just a matter of picking a flavor.
Calder Dougherty: I have extensive (at this point completely unwieldy) Spotify playlists I manage week to week, moving albums from ‘to listen’ into another one if I liked them, or further into another playlist if I consider them heavy favorites for my own year end list. Sadly, if someone releases only on Bandcamp I usually don’t check it out until way later (if at all) because I only have so much time to get through the hours and hours and hours of material building up in my curations.
Josh Bulleid: As a PhD student, I spend a lot of time listening to music while I work. I still use itunes and organise everything into playlists. I have a go-to “New” playlist that I put all the new releases and other topical things that I want to listen to in. Usually I listen to full albums, although recently I’ve been getting into looking up line-ups and set-lists of old festivals and making playlists based on those, which is fun and a good way to re-discover some bands/albums that have fallen by the wayside.
Karlo Doroc: Spotify playlists keep track of what albums I should listen to and which ones are a contender to end up on my EOY list. I also use a spreadsheet to track which albums i see myself wanting to revisit for years to come (ordered list, with order updating over time), the albums which i enjoyed but probably wont feel the need to revisit, the albums that were fine, and those i didn’t like. this helps me prepare my EOY list and remember which albums i should/shouldn’t give another chance down the line
Pete Williams: Right now, I get my music in a number of ways. One thing I learned from Eden was, yes, keeping a massive spreadsheet. I have separate pages for metal, non-metal, coming soon, and a Doomsday-specific sheet. It can make listening time a little chore sometimes, but I can also be objective at the end of the year of EOTY write-ups. Another tool I got from Eden is a browser extension called Toby that lets you save pages in a slightly different way from bookmarks. That way, I keep track of all the Bandcamp pages I need to visit (really wish they had a desktop application instead, but oh well). Finally, I religiously use Saved Albums on Spotify organized by date added. It’s a system and not the most organized one, but I do love listening to and writing about music so sacrifices must be made.
Trent asks: What are some of your favourite “autumn” albums?
Nick Cusworth: This one’s a no-brainer for me. Grizzly Bear‘s Yellow House. Everything about it just oozes the quiet beauty of a fall day. I have such strong memories of being up in the mountains of NH just sitting by myself and watching the leaves fall as I listened to this album. I also have many emotions in general all wrapped up in it as it came during a pivotal time in my life, all of which I went into great detail on in a post from a few years ago.
Noyan: Enslaved – RIITIIR. I mean, this album is good any time of the year but Enslaved generally have a fall vibe for me. Cold, but also warm. Even though it’s super simple, this is one of my favorite music videos of all time because it conveys an atmosphere so strongly. And it’s what I imagine fall in Norway is like. It also came out in October 🙂
Scott Murphy: More folk albums than I could possibly name. Fall in New Hampshire is gorgeous, and a good rustic folk record fits the mood so well. If I had to pick, I’d actually pick a 7” – “Real Love Baby” by Father John Misty. My fiancée and I listened to FJM on repeat when we stayed out in the Monadnock region for our first anniversary.
Eden Kupermintz: I always go back to melodic and mournful works. I listen to a lot of post-rock from the more melancholic side of things like Whale Fall‘s Sondersongs, and Years of Rice & Salt‘s Nothing of Cities.
Otherwise, more progressive and melodic death metal also works for me, particularly Opeth‘s Blackwater Park (Harvest, ironically enough, is one of my favorite “autumn” songs) and things like Wilderun etc.
Joe Astill: I feel drawn to bare and organic music in autumn. It doesn’t necessarily have to be melancholic or dreary but it does tend to be on the sadder side. “Sad” doesn’t really cut it to be honest in terms of the emotion I’m looking for. It is that, but it’s also mixed with this kind of weird nostalgic bittersweet feeling, and this primitive feeling of hibernation and wanting to live a more simpler existence. So recently I’ve quite liked the new Sevdaliza album Shabrang, and Phoebe Bridgers‘ Punisher. Minimalist, ambient stuff comes into play at this time of year too, like A Winged Victory for the Sullen‘s The Undivided Five.
Jordan Jerabek: Bluesy and doomy and kinda spooky stuff feels right to me in fall:
Jimmy Rowe: I’m not sure if it’s the undue influence from the very tree-centric everything, but If These Trees Could Talk‘s Red Forest is perfect listening for when the leaves change colors and you’re out for a late afternoon drive. It’s a nice blend of riffy and crescendo core that I like in my post rock that feels right for the fall.
Calder Dougherty: It’s AFI and Opeth season, baby.
Josh Bulleid: I can’t really think of any “autumn” albums. I guess I associate that season with more of a folksy/indie sound that I don’t really go for. I recently re-listened to From Autumn to Ashes’ The Fiction We Live (2004), which has held up pretty well. So that, I guess. Cradle of Filth’s “Thirteen Autumns and a Widow” is another “autumn” thing I like. “Autumn and Carbine” off the new Code Orange album as well. Since it’s actually coming into Spring here in the Southern Hemisphere though, I’ll also throw out Beardfish’s The Void (2012), which is my go to Spring album (and another answer for #1, if you’re after more of a retro prog sound).
Pete Williams: Before specifics, I love watching leaves fall with black or doom metal as a soundtrack. Just look out your window and exercise some stereotypical metal thoughts. But apart from that, I think Electric Wizard is the perfect fall music. It’s all spooky, and I build up Halloween in my mind every year. For some reason, I always gravitate toward Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf and The Cure just generally this time of year. No idea why but it just seems right.
David Zeidler: A lot of my Autumn Albums are tied directly to commuting to either college or grad school, stuff that got a lot of play on those 45-50 minutes drives and also held a particular tone that seemed to blend seamlessly with the feelings I associate with Fall. Weirdly enough, Fall is my absolute favorite season, but for whatever reason a lot of these albums have a decidedly melancholic vibe.
Probably my #1 has to be Source Tags and Codes by …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, followed closely by Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie. Interestingly, if I had to choose one album overall, I’d choose the latter, but for some reason “Source Tags” just screams Fall for me. Some others include American Football‘s S/T, The Ties That Blind by Mouth of the Architect, and The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place by Explosions in the Sky. I’m inclined to add Siamese Dream, although that’s really like a year-round album. Also, obvious choices would be October Rust and World Coming Down by Type O Negative, but I’m assuming those almost go without saying. Death Spells by Holy Fawn would be another more recent one, but a really strong addition for sure.
Trent Bos: Great picks everyone and big agree with Death Spells and Transatlanticism, David. I’ll nominate Agent Fresco‘s Destrier. It has some melancholic, somber tones while still clinging to liveliness. But also when it first came out I listened to it incessantly while working a landscaping/groundskeeping job involving a lot of raking and leaf removal in one of the go-to areas of Ontario for beautiful fall colours.
Simeon asks: If you had a chance to rename HBIH – what would you call it?
Nick Cusworth: Okay, to state the obvious and to not throw Jimmy under the bus, if we were to launch this website fresh now, we would not call it Heavy Blog Is Heavy for many reasons. I have to admit though that I’ve never thought too seriously about what we would call the site otherwise though. Even if we somehow came up with the PERFECT name and new branding, it would be extraordinarily difficult to overcome the hit to our brand recognition, SEO, and everything else.
The only site I can think of that’s seemingly pulled that off in recent memory is It Djents/Everything Is Noise, and they started out in such a limiting niche that it makes sense that they decided it was worth the risk.
I would love to hear some alternate names from folks for us though haha
Jimmy Rowe: Yeah the name didn’t age well and I apologize for 18 year old me who was very much embroiled in meme culture of the time and was stumped on a name. It could always be worse. It was almost also Heavy as a really heavy blog, named after SYL, but decided HBIH was simpler. While “Heavy Blog Is Heavy” is kind of lame, the colloquial shortening to Heavy Blog is pretty nice even through we’ve expanded outward.
Karlo Doroc: Heavy Blog Is Heavy: The Heaviest Subject Matter of the Blogoverse (Music’s Special Place)
Pete Williams: Probably something a little more open-ended like “You Have Been Warned”. Still want to talk most about metal, but it also lets us write about a whole host of other dark side stuff.
Eden Kupermintz: Music is Bad, Actually – the blog. But seriously, Heavy Blog is Heavy has kind of grown on me and I genuinely think that Heavy Blog is a great name for a blog. So I’d probably officially make it Heavy Blog.
Brady asks: 2020 has been a tumultuous year with a lot of loss, challenge, and grief. Not to mention a lot of toxicity in the online world. While being mindful of not discounting or diminishing the impact of any of that – what’s something positive that is currently happening for each of you at the HBIH right now? Doesn’t matter how small you perceive it to be.
Nick Cusworth: Small silver lining to the pandemic, but overall I’ve really enjoyed transitioning to permanent work from home status. It’s cut out around 2 hours of commute time daily (which I’ve converted largely into more sleep), and it means I get to see my cats and my wife throughout the day. I miss seeing some of my co-workers, but all-in-all I am in absolutely no rush to return to office work anytime soon.
Eden Kupermintz: All my podcasts are doing really well! The Limp Bizkit episode on HPIC was great and in general I’ve been really enjoying recording with Noyan. AnarchySF just hit its tenth episode and I think it was a really good one, especially considering the complex work we tackled (Ada Palmer’s “Too Like the Lightning”). And lastly, I’ve been thrilled to join Langdon Hickman (one of the best music journalists around) on Death // Sentence. Just recorded two solo episodes and I actually loved the different experience. So yeah, lots of content and good stuff to boot!
Jordan Jerabek: My drip machine took a shit and died, so I decided to go with a Chemex for my current brewing setup. I’m quite enjoying the morning ritual (and of course the tasty coffee).
Josh Bulleid: As much as I’m not at all looking forward to finding a job next year, I am really proud of my thesis and love seeing it all come together in the final stages (which are otherwise torturous). I have also recently made a really good friend and have started taking anxiety medication, which has made a huge difference to my day to day life.
Karlo Doroc: Not being able to do anything, but still being fortunate enough to have steady jobs, has allowed my partner and I to save more than anticipated. Hopefully that holds us in good stead over the tumultuous times to come.
Pete Williams: Let me go through my 2020 checklist first: I lost my job; job opportunities rapidly dried up; a meth dealer moved in below me and his mother refuses to move him out; I’m struggling with anxiety and depression along with other personal issues; and I feel incredibly guilty about all of it. However, I also got married this year, and my wife and I’s relationship is getting stronger all the time. Lots of time to talk and topics to talk about can lead to understanding between two people no matter how long you’ve been together. I also started going to therapy, and I feel a lot better even after only a few sessions. Finally, I think this economic depression (it’s a depression, they only say recession so you don’t think it’s that bad) has truly broken me from a capitalist consumer mentality. Sure, I don’t have as much money to spend on things, but it turns out that a lot of the things I spent money on are things I don’t really need in my life anyway.
Calder Dougherty: WFH has definitely been nice to my brain. I generally get more rest and don’t get all of my social energy sapped by coworkers or having to appear busy. Beyond that, I just got an espresso machine so I’m living the cappuccino life, I’m committing more to my own health by eating better and working out more, and I’m finally getting to voice act in a new audio drama by the creator of I Am In Eskew. Also, helping run a column about music I love is a little bit of a dream come true, as silly as it may be.