One of the reasons this first part of last year’s favorites list hasn’t been posted yet — writing this introduction. Trying to find a narrative among your musical choices is sort of what you have to do if you’re going to write these up, but this is music we’re talking about here. In broad terms, the medium’s expanding so fast in all directions these days we may eventually see the entire market Big Rip itself to heat death. What narrative?
My best-fit alternative: heavy metal, my fallback musical fix of choice, has so many albums being released across so many styles that there’s no feasible way to gatekeep. Complain about Deafheaven as the death of metal if you must, but there are so many other things to listen to that if you can’t find enough to enjoy, it’s probably more to do with you than with “the scene” being dead.
And as far as obligations to be “objective”, well, hell with that. In 1987, there were about 150 metal LPs released. You could have had an objective education in everything released by the end of the year, at least enough to render a subjective opinion about what’s good and what’s not good. Three to four times that many metal albums came out last month alone. It would take more than eight albums a day, every day, all year — no second spins, no exceptions — to hear even half of what was released in 2016. To be a truly well-schooled authority nowadays is a physiological impossibility.
So, the prescription: don’t worry so much about all the different metal critics and writers having different discussions about different bands entirely. Don’t worry about people declaring a scene this exhaustively alive to be dead. Don’t even worry about your list coming out on time. Just… like what you like. Hold fast to what you love. Don’t be afraid just to treat your list as a necessarily limited record of “stuff what I liked in the preceding year”.
At this point, that’s pretty much all it’s going to be good for, anyway. Continue reading “Favorite Albums of 2016: Part I”