In my continuing efforts to make The Arsies the best imaginary metal tournament on the planet, I’ve started work on a new scoring system, which feeds into the First Listens. Now, instead of coming up with an arbitrary rating (0 to 4 stars), I’m scoring an album on multiple criteria. This adds up to a star rating, which hopefully will influence the battles come next January.
That’s some excellent analysis, JaPaBo. I can’t argue with the math!
What I can say, however, is that I don’t intentionally go against the grain per se. If anything, I try to avoid groupthink and keep an open mind about albums I’m going to listen to. The payoff comes in those moments when I find myself saying, “You know, this new Winger album is pretty good!” The cost, of course, is anything David Draiman is up to (but even then, I’m perfectly prepared to love it if warranted.)
In this way, I find myself fairly often disagreeing with other established metal organizations (which I’ll start calling Main Stream Metal, or MSM for short), both about albums they promote and works they dismiss out of hand or otherwise overlook.
Dear Arse & Ziggles:
As always, I can’t wait for the Arsies to begin. As the suspense builds, I thought I should point out something you may already have noticed: The Arsies is anti-establishment. And that’s not just an opinion statement, I can prove it. Nick Cusworth at Heavy Blog Is Heavy aggregated the best-of metal lists from major metal websites (Stereogum, Loudwire, Rolling Stone, Consequence of Sound, SPIN, Decibel, LA Weekly, Apple Music, Metalsucks, Metal Injection, Metal Hammer, and Pitchfork) to produce one mega list representing the views of the “metal establishment.” The following table compares the results of this list with the 6th Arsies.
I’ve been thinking a lot about your answers to my question. I agree with both of you on some points.
In particular, I can think of plenty of examples of bands that have a shifting relationship with the genre over time. (Hey, we can’t all be Overkill Inc.) And yet, most people don’t talk about metal albums; the categorization happens around the band.
Although I suppose we could come up with a definition of metal based on some combination of objective musical criteria (e.g. double-bass drumming, de-tuning, distortion, etc.) or some common sense standard like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography (i.e. “you know it when you hear it”), I have a nagging suspicion that metal is best defined by the particular emotions it most commonly expresses.
The age old question: what makes something metal? It has come up for me lately a bit because my daughter has been enjoying AC/DC lately (started with hearing Highway to Hell over the closing credits of one of the Iron Man movies, now she likes some other tunes like Dirty Deeds and TNT) and she asked me “Is AC/DC heavy metal?” I told her no, they are really hard rock.
I was listening to the new Haunted Shores EP today, and fact-checking myself on whether it was the side project of two members of Periphery. So I took a side trip to the excellent Encyclopaedia Metallum… and suddenly found myself reading a thread about the age-old question: are they metal?