Earlier this year, my review of Question - Doomed Passages
was published on the front page of this site. I know that the review was imperfect, but I would like to expand on my opening statement: "The best albums are greater than the sum of their parts and provide the capability for listener immersion due to their length, but the song is still generally the most important and most fundamental compositional unit in death metal. Paying too much attention to atmosphere, musicianship, individual riffs, or other aesthetic and shallow (though important) qualities of an album can lead to overlooking compositional shortcomings, especially after the mind starts to fatigue or when listening to dense material."
My thinking was influenced by this post: http://rateyourmusic.com/list/Schopenhauer/selective_list_of_non_classical_music/
I feel comfortable claiming that on most metal albums, not all of the songs are essential. Some of the compositions are just inferior versions of the better ones: less memorable, less adventurous, less complete, more repetitive, etc. For example, I listened to Immortal - Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism
a few times recently, and I have decided that if that album suddenly disappeared from existence, I would really only miss "The Call of the Wintermoon" and maybe "A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland." The other songs have enjoyable - even memorable - riffs, and I can tolerate them in the background, but structurally, they don't measure up to the aforementioned opening and closing tracks. Perhaps you will disagree with me about Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism
, but I use that example solely to illustrate a more general point.
Another example: I've also listened to Obliveon - Nemesis
a few times recently. I really want to like that album, but my current opinion is that the first song stands well above the rest. How about a classic like Massacra - Final Holocaust
? Yes, it's a fantastic album, but I would be lying if I said that "Researchers of Tortures" (despite its merits) gets my blood pumping as much as "The Day of Massacra" does.
Relating to the idea that not all songs are created equal, I will make two points:
1. I want metal musicians to cut the fluff. I would rather have an EP, compilation, or mixtape of worthy material than an inconsistent album, because the latter frustrates me and wastes my time. Artists with less than an album's worth of things to say should not pressure themselves to generate enough material to fill an entire LP. Artists should restrain themselves when choosing compositions to include on their releases. Quality over quantity.
2. I would like to see music reviewers devote more attention to the strengths and weaknesses of individual compositions (in addition to, not instead of, other aspects of their reviews). I can think of no justification for ignoring the songs, regardless of whether an album is 1. a collection of songs that contribute to an overall mood, atmosphere, or impression, 2. a meta-composition in which the different tracks relate to one another to form a whole that overshadows the parts in importance, 3. something in between, or 4. something else entirely. Discussing or trying to figure out what makes some songs exemplary and other songs unsatisfactory benefits both music listeners and any musicians reading a review. And personally, when I read a music review, one of the things that I want to know is the ratio of high quality music to superfluous music on a release.
It's possible that I am missing the forest for the trees. Any thoughts on this topic?