OK. So I’m only on the second album on the Rolling Stone’s best 100 metal albums of all time, and I kind of don’t know what to do with it. It raises a question that is not uncomfortable, but boring: who thought this was metal? On one hand, I’ve had enough discussions of semantics to realize how unimportant such discussions really are. On the other hand, I wouldn’t voluntarily listen to Rolling Stone’s 100 best jazz albums of all time, or Whatever Magazine of Country Music’s 100 best country albums of all time. That’s not a rip on jazz or country as music–I don’t have the ear for them, and wouldn’t have fun listening. Nonetheless, I can’t just ignore the fact that few metal heads consider all albums on the list as representative. “This ain’t metal” is hardly an interesting criticism of a band, but more a “wtf” directed at Rolling Stone. Anyway.
This album is definitely dipping a little toe into mainstream metal, being rife with guitar chuggery, and even what I would defend as a bona-fide riff on “Whisper”. Far more notable than the metal content of the album is that it features a lead singer who is in fact a woman*. I don’t know how many other albums on this list feature a woman lead singer, and so I have to give it a thumbs up for that. The vocal melodies are consistently clean, strong, and do not budge from anthemic minor key goth threnody. The second track, “Bring Me to Life” features a male vocalist, who intersperses her melodies with rap-style ejaculations–fucking awful. I steeled myself against the possibility that this would continue through the album, but mercifully, such interjections are well enough dispersed to be bearable. There are two things that will prevent me from listening to this album again. First, I would have liked a little more variation. The songs all sound pretty much the same, they range in tempo from slowish to slow, each features a segment of introspective melody/synth accompaniment, framed by turgid djenting, and always a four-chord minor chorus that tends to soar a bit on the vocal side. Second, the songs are concerned with lyrical themes relevant to young adults that I just don’t give a crap about because I’m old. Teen drama has a place in this world, but not on my spotify play lists.So hows that for a pretty tortured review?
*Metal tends to be pretty dude dominated, which is unfortunate. I’m going to try to keep this in mind, as misogyny isn’t unknown in these circles. Or any circles, really.