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Micro-songs: the shortest songs in heavy metal

November 23, 2013 –

no_time_for_pop_songsAbout a decade ago, the trend of flash fiction or micro-stories seized the literary world by storm. The reasoning was that as people did more of their reading via phones and portable computers, they would want shorter, harder-hitting fiction.

Of course, metal was there first.

Heavy metal has a long tradition of making short and fast songs that derive intensity by compressing an idea and then unleashing it like a jack-in-the-box with razor blades for teeth. This tradition spans multiple metal genres and decades.

Generally three and a half minutes is considered the ideal length for a pop song, give or take a half-minute. Many bands, especially in more “serious” genres like AOR, progressive rock, jazz and metal, tend to write five minute or longer songs. Micro-songs on the other hand clock in well under two minutes, often under one.

According to many bands, writing a short song is harder than writing a long one. When the song goes by quickly, song structure is more transparent. There aren’t comforting layers of conventions, like guitar solos and ballady choruses, that can be used to disguise an emptiness within.

It’s just the songwriter versus the void.

Here’s a (brief) run through of heavy metal (and hybrids) who made flash-audio or micro-songs.

  1. Dirty Rotten Imbeciles (DRI) – “Money Stinks” (0:46)

  2. Corrosion of Conformity (COC) – “Nothing’s Gonna Change” (1:07)

  3. Disharmonic Orchestra – “Interposition” (1:59)

  4. Napalm Death – “You Suffer” (0:02)

  5. Blood – “Sodomize the Weak” (1:38)

  6. Insect Warfare – “Oxygen Corrosion” (0:54)

  7. Gridlink – “Asuka” (0:35)

  8. Fallen Christ – “World of Darkness” (1:57)

  9. Carcass – “Genital Grinder” (1:32)

  10. Chronical Diarrhoea – “Attack of the Blur Demons” (0:55)

  11. Agathocles – “Well of Happiness” (1:10)