I’ve started keeping track of albums I’ve listened to in a spreadsheet because I’ve got nothing better to do with my time, apparently. I realized I’ve been consuming a ton more music recently than ever before, so I while I log it in my Google Drive for me, I figured I could share it here for you.
First of all: the spreadsheet. I’ll link this every time I post an update to my Listening Log, and write bits and ramble on my thoughts below. I’m still figuring out what I want to track in the sheet and what I want to capture in writing, but I’ll figure it out on the fly, just like everything else on this website. For a quick hash out of any and all terms I use here: check out Listening Log #1. I actually do have one addendum: I updated the word “Abum” to “Release”. More on that below.
|# Releases||# Bands||# Genres|
|Oldest||Newest||Most Popular Year|
|# Countries||Most Popular Country||How Sick Was This Month?|
|11||United States||Pretty Sick|
Well, this certainly was a busy month for my headphones, albeit a more focused one apparently. From my first Listening Log, the 153 released I listened to put me at about 21 releases per month. I suppose the 90 I burned through in the past 31 days might be more of an odd blip of fervorous activity rather then the pace I’ll probably keep up in the long term.
Everything else is on a smaller scale than last time. Fewer bands, genres, countries of origin, and even a smaller spread of release years. I did a lot of digging through discographies this month, from Propagandhi to Vomitory, to Defeated Sanity. A bit different than the wide net I cast over the last 7 months.
Something to note, which I’ll get into later: I listened to a fair amount of EPs and demos from bands this month, so the average run time of the releases I’ve listened to was probably much lower than it usually is.
A metric ton of wicked releases dropped this year that I caught up on, pushing the most popular year in my log up from 2018 to 2019. I’m still playing a bit of catch-up, but now I’m in full swing consuming this year’s noise.
Don’t Half-Ass Two Things, Whole-Ass One Thing
So much for broadening my horizons. Over half of what I listened to this month was just pure, straight up death metal. There were a handful of instances where I was on the fence of adding a qualifier term to a release such as brutal, progressive, or experimental, but for some reason or another opted to keep it generic.
One example I can think of is listening to Demilich‘s album and demo. Obviously, these Finns make some twisty-turvy music, but I think I had been oversold on how mind-expanding and genre-defying Nespithe actually is. Sure, it’s great, and it doesn’t sound like anything else out there (well, except for the new resurgence of Demilich clones), but it wasn’t as wild as I was expecting, so I just classified it as plain, old death metal.
I had a tough time classifying more modern death metal, particularly. Because of Brutality Inflation (patent pending), what’s considered normal death metal today would be considered far and away the most brutal shit coming out in the early 90s. So while Suffocation has been considered brutal death metal their entire career, a band like Vomitory, who definitely play just as heavy, or heavier music, I’d still just call death metal. In 2002, Blood Rapture really wouldn’t be considered the hardest shit out there, but in 1991, it would have melted faces clean off.
Regardless of my inability to capture the nuances of death metal with labels, I’m curious to see how future logs look in their genre breakdowns. I definitely try not to listen to things just to sway the log one way or another, I just keep searching for music I like in the usual avenues and veins I look down. Again, maybe this is just a blip, but who knows. Only time will tell.
Death metal does fucking rule tho, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Releases from the United States dropped over 10% which was interesting to see. I knew that the good ol’ US of A would dominate this month again when I found myself on a Maggot Stomp binge, but considering my new found love for Finnish death metal, it’s pretty easy to see where that 10% went. Canadian music made a pretty significant jump up in my listening habits, mostly due to my moderate dive through Propagandhi‘s back catalogue. I’ve been a big fan of Victory Lap since I first heard it, but I never actually took the time to listen to the rest of their discography until now. It’s interesting to hear their evolution from skate punks to proggy, thrashy hardcore where every song is just the chef’s choice of riff salad. I definitely like later Propagandhi, but I do have a soft spot for Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes.
Germany made it in to the top 10 countries solely because of Defeated Sanity who not only slam super fucking hard (don’t @ me, haters), but appeal to my nerdy prog boy side. I swear these guys just want to be an Atheist cover band, and their Disposal of the Dead EP and last couple full lengths let some of that jazz fusion influence creep out before they just said “fuck it” and went full Florida early ’90s progressive metal on their Dharmata EP. I really hope they continue down that path, cause that style of music is pretty much a dead art form in 2019.
On rereading that last paragraph, there’s only one country that didn’t make it into the top 10 because 1) I only listened to one album from that country this month and 2) I only listened to releases from 11 countries. Oops. Sorry Organectomy, and New Zealand but you Kiwis just didn’t quite cut it this month.
Demos are the New EPs, Apparently
New to this month’s Listening Log analysis: Release Types! I think it helps inform and give context to some of the numbers in the Basic Breakdown section, so I decided to start tracking whether the release I listened to was an album, EP, demo, live concert, or compilation (which I didn’t end up listening to any of this month).
It’s pretty easy to think I have no life looking at the fact that I listened to 90 releases in 31 days this August. You’d be right about not having a life, but since over a quarter of what I fed my ears was an EP or demo, those entries were done and dusted in usually 10 to 20 minutes. Something that also helped fluff those numbers was I found many of the albums I crushed this month were short as hell. Many of them sat around 30 minutes, and rarely did one run longer than 45. No 3 hour Kamasi Washington albums for me, thanks. I’d much rather a half hour of super solid tracks than an hour containing a half hour of super solid tracks and a half hour of filler (cough, Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, cough).
I also decided to track the release types because I found many of the newer releases (particularly those from Maggot Stomp) were classified as demos, not EPs. Many of them are self-produced such as the excellent Malignant Altar and Sanguisugabogg demos, but with the quality of recording presented here, I’m not sure why they aren’t called EPs. I know that they got relatively limited release on cassette and CD through small record labels, but last I heard some 12″ pressings were being made, which I think demos don’t usually find themselves on.
I don’t know if it has to do with recapturing the aesthetics of the ’80s and ’90s that seems to be so popular now, or just the accessibility of recording your music, getting it pressed physically, and distributed digitally allowing album quality releases to be put out completely independently or through (usually) cash-strapped indie labels.
It might just come down to a marketing choice. Demos have always been a staple in underground metal culture, so when a band self-produces their debut, the choice of calling it a demo over EP might appeal to that “cassette cult” mentality that has permeated heavy metal (extreme metal in particular) since day one. Demos have an aloof and mystical quality about them. Nobody searches for Mantas‘ debut EP to hear what Chuck Schuldiner sounded before he founded Death. People want that Mantas demo tape. Same with the often lauded Finnish underground demos. If they were just considered EPs or albums (like Rippikoulu‘s 31 minute demo), I doubt they’d still have the magnetism that comes with implying this is a band at it’s rawest and most authentic.
I’m curious how the word demo is going to be thrown around in the next few years as bands churn out debuts that sound stellar and get pressed to physical mediums more traditionally reserved for full length releases.
New Music > Old Music
Not much too surprising here. I’ve slowed down in the amount of 2018 releases I’ve consumed, but just like last time, I’ve been spending my time with modern releases and early ’90s OG death metal. I’d say there’s a small bump at 2009, but at only five releases from that year It’s really nothing special. Just the shallow dive into 2008 and 2010 making it seem more important than it is.
I’m thinking over the next few months there’s going to be a continuation of recent releases dominating my logs as I keep up with the awesome flurry of releases from Maggot Stomp, 20 Buck Spin, and Dark Descent (new Blood Incantation!). The early ’90s bump might die off as I’m slowly making my way through the B and C-tier bands from that era now. I think that the release years represented are going to be heavily dependent on the genres and subgenres I expose myself to in the future. Only time will tell.
Other Bits and Bobs
Here are more small bullet points about August’s Listening Log:
- Defeated Sanity’s Dharmata EP reminds me how fucking sick old school proggy death is and how it’s a bit of a lost art form. Seriously one of the best curveballs I’ve been thrown in a long time.
- I definitely enjoy EPs and shorter albums over longer ones, generally. Get in, get out, leave me wanting more. Don’t bloat your releases with filler.
- I’m appalled Morbid Angel would backend FFttF with four of the five last tracks being interlude tracks.
- Demilich finally clicked with me, and I fucking love it.
- Finland continues to win my heart with it’s incredible death metal of all shapes and sizes.
- I listened to 7 releases by 3 bands with the word “Vomit” in their name.
- Least memorable release probably goes to Kublai Khan‘s Nomad. When I looked through my log, I completely forgot I even listened to it. I had to look it up to remember who the fuck Kublai Khan was.
- I judged Maggot Stomp earlier this year based on Encoffinized‘s debut. They seem to be the flagship band for that label, and I really couldn’t stand Chambers of Deprivation, so I’d like to apologize to all the other sick bands (which is pretty much every other band signed to MS) for judging them so harshly.