Tuesday, December 24, 2013

V.'s List of Problems With Lists 2013

This year, something I probably should have figured out a long time ago about lists finally clicked. It's not really the "best album," sure, and it's not just a bunch of personal-incompetence-to-judge issues. It's been obvious for a long time (even in my own posts) that putting an album out in maybe October is the best way to get on a year-end list, sure. The new obvious? People are just listing shit they WISH belonged on the list that didn't fail so horrendously they could ignore it.
Suddenly, I'm really glad The Inarguable has dropped mostly out of the generic list game so I can actually have something to say you haven't read 20 times in the last week. So, here's a list of complaints that DON'T include stuff like "Fleshgod Apocalypse because I don't like it" and "Deafheaven because it's pink and also I don't care." Other people like other stuff. This stuff just factually doesn't belong on best of 2013 lists.

Things That Shouldn't Be On "Best of 2013" Lists

Gorguts - Colored Sands
Yes, it's fucking Gorguts. I love Gorguts. If I were making an "essential metal albums" list, Obscura would be one of the first things I scribbled down. It's glorious.
And Colored Sands is pretty good, too. The soundtrack-romanticism of "The Battle of Chamdo" isn't what I would have expected the Luc Lemay of 15 years ago to do with a string quintet, but it's nice and I hope someone pays Luc to write a soundtrack for their obscure film as a result.
It's not one of the best bloody albums of 2013, though. It's (particularly in terms of overall sound) more like Colin Marston invited Longstreth, Lemay, and Hufnagel to put together a full-band Indricothere (unfamiliar?) album than like a new Gorguts album. I enjoy Indricothere but . . . anyway, Colored Sands is nice and because it's Gorguts and isn't Luc's Lulu Radikult, it's dominating all the lists.

The Body - Master, We Perish
[see my review here]
Okay, this hasn't been on THAT many lists, but it's been on too many. I've hardly seen Christs, Redeemers on any lists so far (maybe one?) and Christs, Redeemers is the crushing work that we were waiting for Chip and Lee to put out so we could forget the 5-song CD-R and mostly neglect Master, We Perish. It's RIDICULOUSLY GOOD. If this were a top-ten list, it'd be a very strong contender for #1. Where is it on the lists? WHERE. And Master, We Perish is pretty decent/good, but I'd only list it if Christs, Redeemers hadn't happened and I'd debate including it. Did nobody listen to Christs, Redeemers? What's going on?

Inquisition - Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
Inquisition is and has always been boring. They're not QUITE the ideal example of why I hated most black metal for the first several years of my exposure to it, but they've got most of that going on. All the clichés, chords instead of riffs, boring drum beats, bleating uninterested vocals? Check. And they don't have bass. I mean, for a black metal band, they didn't make their sound as unpleasantly thin as they might have, and this album's a step up in sound, but some token distorted ratty boring basslines that sometimes cut out would've added some interest.
For quite some time (well, most of 2008), I gave them the benefit of the doubt based on repeated assurances that they were "intense" live. I don't know why everyone uses "intense" to describe them. It's possible that the sheepherd is merely bleating/believing what other sheep said. Then I saw them. And I nearly fell asleep despite being well-rested. I've had BATHROOM VISITS more intense. Thumbs down.
P.S. Obscure Verses even has chord progressions that sound like poorly-constructed pop ballads.

Black Sabbath - 13

It doesn't matter. It's not particularly interesting or great or anything. If it were a new band, nobody would care (they'd turn it down for that Uncle Acid album). I didn't want to listen to metal before Sabbath, but . . . it's a whole album of the bonus new studio tracks from Reunion. Yay? Whatever.

Vhöl - Vhöl
It's a weak mix of mostly 30-year-old riffs and melody+blasts. "Melodic" gets specified in subgenres for a reason--it's a warning to get the fuck away. Feel the need to include one of Mike Scheidt's random supergroups? Go check out Lumbar, which is heavy and solid and actually a desirable listen. I don't give a damn who's playing sloppy d-beats on your album. Vhöl is just okay and moderately annoying to listen to.

Things That Should Have Been On "Best of 2013" Lists, But Mostly Weren't

The Body - Christs, Redeemers

Seriously. Do I need to continue this? It's everything that made The Body suddenly popular with All The Waters of the Earth Shall Turn to Blood, made better and fresher and heavier and more enveloping. It has all the satisfying songwriting that Master, We Perish and even moreso the 5-song CD-R didn't really manage to deliver with the perfected version of the sound development they worked on through those two releases. The title looks very hand-sharpie'd, but it's a glorious record. Glorious.

Wormed - Exodromos
This is a pretty clear-cut case of "too early in the year." I guess nobody can remember as far back as March. It's Wormed. It's everything it's supposed to be, not a dismal attempt that isn't quite dismal enough to pass up. It should be on lists Gorguts/Sabbath style at least (for being a Wormed album that doesn't completely blow), but it actually deserves to be on lists because it's good.

Defeated Sanity - Passages Into Deformity

This one's kind of a margin case--it's more accurate to say it was missing from all the lists made by journalists. For some reason, it doesn't seem to be having any problem showing up on lists that journalism-outlets wrangle out of musicians. I wonder why. Maybe it's really good or something. MAYBE. Maybe it's one of the best death metal albums of the year, certainly outperforming Portal's "Vexovoid" (which I have nothing against, though I know Jon would probably put it first on his hate list this year), which seems to be on every list ever. Wait, Exodromos and Passages are both on Willowtip. Is there a conspiracy against Willowtip? Are they doing a shit job of promotion despite having amazing albums? Is it completely The Inarguable's fault for completely failing somehow to review albums we love? Hmm.

V. who hates everything

In no particular order, more of the best albums I personally failed to review this year (which is assuredly missing many more):
Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet - "Circuitous" (Driff Records)
The Ames Room - "In St. Johann" (Gaffer Records)
Suzuki Junzo - "Portrait of Medeleine Elster" (Utech Records)
Colin Webster - "Antennae" (Gaffer Records)
Tim Daisy Trio - "A Fine Day in Berlin" (Relay Recordings)
Brötzmann/Drake - "Solid and Spirit" (Nero's Neptune)
Wooley/Yeh/Chen/Carter - "NCAT" (Monotype Records)
Trumpets & Drums - "Live in Ljubljana" (Clean Feed)
Minton/Chen - "By the Stream" (Sub Rosa)
Olivia Block - "Karren" (Sedimental)

And more of the best albums The Inarguable failed to review this year:
Common Eider, King Eider - "Taaleg Uksur" (Caribou People) and "Earth Liver" (Black Horizons)
Kinit Her - "Hyperion" (Pesanta Urfolk) and "Cavern Stanzas" (Reue Um Reue)
Low - "The Invisible Way" (Sub Pop)
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" (Palace Records)
Castevet - "Obsian" (Profound Lore)
Ulcerate - "Vermis" (Relapse Records)
UlverTromsø Chamber Orchestra - "Messe I.X-VI.X" (Neuropa/Jester Records)
Kayo Dot - "Hubardo" (Ice Level Music)

P.S. - Bear in mind that we covered so little stuff this year that most of it (Burning Tree, Trees, Gris, Devotion, Kinit Her, Merkstave, Cara Neir, etc. etc.) is among our favorite stuff of the year. This has been a glorious year for new releases.

Bonus: Pop Music That Shouldn't Be On Lists
. . . my day job keeps me informed.
Justin Timberlake - 20/20 blah blah and "Mirrors"
Robin Thicke et al - "Blurred Lines"
Katy Perry - "Roar"
Music video or no, "offensive" (I really hope the metal kids reading this weren't offended by this) performances or no, Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" is a great song, performed well. And there's a bunch more reasonable pop stuff--we can count Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness" because the remix has made it popular this year, and there's a bunch of other stuff that was pretty okay. Even some great bass grooves (Bruno Mars' "Treasure") are preferable to some of the sleazy and/or boring crap that's getting more recognition.


  1. I love this list, really breaks up the monotony of these types of posts. Good call on Vhol, too. I want to love them but what they are on paper just doesn't translate into their music.

  2. I was surprised The Body didn't get a gurnsey in more lists as well. Adimitedly, when I did my 2013 summary radio shows (i found 2013 to be such a great year, that i split it into two!), I actually got a couple of complaint calls about the track I played from Christs, Redeemers. I thought it fit right in, but for some reason, people seem to find it very hard to break into. Weird.

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  6. I'm really glad The Inarguable has dropped mostly out of the generic list game so I can actually have something to say you haven't real times in the last week.

  7. Nice Post. Thanks for sharing the useful information.

  8. It has all the satisfying songwriting that Master, We Perish and even moreso the 5-song CD-R didn't really manage to deliver with the perfected version of the sound development.

  9. Nice Post. It's possible that the sheepherd is merely bleating/believing what other sheep said. Then I saw them. Thanks!!

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  11. Nice Post. It's been obvious for a long time (even in my own posts) that putting an album out in maybe October is the best way to get on a year-end list, sure. Thanks!!

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