When I was a teenager reading Metal Hammer GR, there was a little column whose name I can't remember where an interviewer would play ten songs for a metal musician that was featured on the issue, and the musician would strive to recognize the songs, or at least the bands. It was always an entertaining read and I do remember some famous flops by highly visible metal artists that you'd guess have never heard of metal music before. I remember also that one of the Cavalera brothers from Sepultura did sterlingly on his try.
So, I'm bringing that back. But in a whole new, horrible twist, I'm not even going to ask actual metal musicians to tell me if they recognize this or that. After all, it really is besides the point if a metal musician is also a well-read metal affictionado. For all I care, they could have never listened to anything else than two Iron Maiden songs, if their own music is great, that's fine with me. Actually, I think too much slavish devotion to 'the history of metal' and its various sacred cows might lead to unambitious metal-making, but that's besides the scope of this little experiment.
No, I'm going to ask metal bloggers. I'm not even going to select the music beforehand. They'll be hitting 'shuffle' in their grand collection of mp3s and not looking at the media player's display. I bet most people that write on the web, especially for niche metal genres won't be able to tell their Generic Death Metal #4 from their Generic Death Metal #8, but we'll see.
The rules are as follows for those that are brave:
0. Put all your media in there and shuffle. If it's on your hard drives, you have to put it there. If someone only has say, ten records on their hard drive, this does not preclude them, in fact it is a very prudent choice and they should be applauded for their skillful play.
1. No Cheating in your reports. You're only cheating yourselves with further self-delusion. Write it like it is, if you don't know what the hell is going on in your hard drive, then that's what's going on. Chalk it up to terrible debris of modernity, chalk it up to middle-lower-class upbringing urging you to collect everything you once listened to like a little pack rat. Say whatever, just don't lie about knowing what you didn't.
2. If you want to go easy on yourself, informed guesses (artist name is enough) count as positive entries. In fact, guessing what something is by elements of it being familiar to you whereas the song itself isn't, is a whole different metalhead game tradition, so you shouldn't feel too bad if you can spot a Glenn Benton in some Vital Remains or whatever. You know a few things about the things you're pretending to know a lot about, at least.
3. Recognizing the artist and the album is enough to consider that a solid plus one on your final score. Further bragging about personnel on the record, date of release or other trivia is optional and will not change the score (but feel free).
4. If you didn't know at least Artist - Record (and *especially* if you guessed wrong), you have two after-play choices. Either listen to the record attentively three times in a row and keep it, or delete it outright. Be brave! Listening to music is not supposed to be fun!
So, no more delaying the inevitable. Let all poses be exposed. I will be the first to go.
1. If you feel like playing a more difficult variation by a degree of separation, middle click here to start the link in a secondary tab and try not to look at the name of the tab while you figure it out. Read below when you get it or if you've given up. If you do better than me with my own music library, I'll bend my knee in your general direction.
Starts with a wash of reverberating distortion... no idea so far. More noise. Am I listening to some leftover industrial hidden somewhere on my hard drive? Oh, the trills of 'Night on Bare Mountain' come in, this is Mekong Delta covering Modest Mussorgsky's masterpiece, off of their own masterpiece "Dances of Death (and Other Walking Shadows)". The cover is fair and I can't complain as it served as an introduction to the composer for me. Mekong Delta would go on to cover a lot of Mussorgsky, some well, some less so but that's a whole different story. Full recognition. An auspicious start to my experiment!
2. Middle click, listen, take your guess then read below.
Hmm... I'd say America. Obvious Iron Maiden heritage. The singer doesn't sound American, though. "Hell is for Heroes"? Probable song title? This is some obvious US Metal staple that I should be really embarrassed for not - oh, "Reach for the Stars" is the obvious song title, nice corona on the chorus. Is this Cloven Hoof? If so, shame on me for not realizing straight away. This can't be off of "A Sultan's Ransom" at least, I know that record inside out. *Checks* Yes, this is Cloven Hoof, off of Dominator. "Reach for the sky". I should really listen to that record properly. But this song isn't very good. I'll make the hard choice afterwards.
Oh no, dreaded post-metal, it all sounds alike! At least this is an easy one for me because I simply don't have a lot of post-metal on my archive. Obviously Isis. Off of Celestial. Is this "Collapse and Crush"? If not, it should be. *checks* Buh, Swarm Reigns Down. At least I got the correct record. Man, Isis sounded really different here as opposed to "Oceanic". The no distortion middle part here is really dry and kind of awkwardly played, they would go on to perfect that aspect of their sound later on. There's even some half-a-tone secondary voice in the bass range in here that's awfully off harmony, I guess they thought that was forward thinking at the time. Welcome to ten years of only dissonant post-metal riffing after this, thanks Isis!
No idea. This sounds so completely singular (in terms of bad production), it should be impossible to not remember it though. So I simply have not listened to it enough. If this is US Power metal again I swear, I'll delete it. Waiting for the chorus to see if any of my neurons decide to weakly flicker.
This singer is not a good singer. This post-chorus boogie is awful. I think I'm desecrating some US Metal holy cow here. *Checks* Blackkout - Electric Soldiers. Well, it's US power metal alright. I think this Blackkout has ties to the infinitely more interesting "The Last Things" and which is why I even downloaded this. I think I've listened it to it once. I will review the rest of the record thrice and if the songwriting is as uninspiring as this and the singing as awkward throughout, I am deleting. Here's my first mark of shame on this playlist.
Easy one. Took me two seconds. God, how I hate the voice of Haskell. The main riff of the song and how it alternates with the acoustic guitar parts is very interesting, though. Easily one of the better songs off of the gigantic irritation of a record that is "Lizard". King Crimson would never again scratch that particular faux neo-classical/jazz sore.
6. (not on youtube)
Took me until the vocals came in. Cirith Ungol, off of third third record "One Foot In Hell". At first I thought "Join the Legion" (which is the opener for their fourth and last "Paradise Lost") but it's not it. It's a testament to how generic the '80s period of Cirith Ungol sounds that one song could be on a different record and it'd fit right in. Whereas there's no possibility of mistaking any song off of their first two records as anything else at all. Still, mr. Baker is unmistakable, his voice is that of a terrible beast, one of the best there have ever been. The theme of too much US Metal continues.
Thousands of years before the dawn of history, huh? Fates Warning - 'Damnation', off of their original release, "Night on Brocken". Unmistakable perfection. Also US Metal, but at least, some of *the* best US Metal. People into Jazz should have some Fates Warning on their collection. People into horrorcore should. Everyone. I headbanged.
(An interesting aside, the verse melody that Mr. Arch is employing here has been 'lifted' by Tom Phillips of While Heaven Wept, I'm pretty certain.)
Oh no! Low end! Please don't let this be death metal!... *sigh*, that it is. At least it's moving very slow so I might eventually realize which doom/death band I'm listening to. Oh no, it picked up. The vocalist is positively guttural. Is this Finnish? Is this Krypt of Cerberos, perhaps? This riff sounds like Demilich, but Demilich I would never confuse with their lessers. Let me check. Yes! Crypt of Kerberos (and not the other way around). This goes on the delete pile even if I got a pretty good long shot guess out of it.
Messhugah? These ambient washes in the beginning sound familiar. Is this the intro to "Contradictions Collapse"? Ah, this is certainly Messhugah. Which song however. This is going to give me trouble. At least it's *good* Messhugah. By that I mean, here they still ultimately play thrash riffs that evolve and mutate, not just 'rhythms' that evolve and mutate. There's no way I'm going to identify which song this is, Contradictions Collapse (and "None" for that matter) are so uniform, I can only tell which songs 'Gods of Rapture' and 'Cadaverous Mastication' are. *checks* Oh! Terminal Illusions off of Destroy Erase Improve. A whole record off, huh? Delete.
"Dig Me", by King Crimson, off of the album "Three of a Perfect Pair". King Crimson save my ass twice in one playlist. It's impossible to mistake this song as anything else if you've ever heard it once, as it actually sounds like malfunctioning machinery. The clearly audible lyrics go on about just that. Dig me, don't bury me.
So, recapping, 9 out of 10 including guesses. But that's weak, so let's not include guesses. As per the rules, Artist - Record should count as at least partial recognition. With that criteria, 6 out of 10, which is pretty dire in itself. My pose has been exposed! How fare YOU, sir?