Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sperm whale

The end of a decade creates two things: 1) people writing end of decade "best of" lists and 2) people commenting on number one (not urine). Well, I've done both, or at least will have done both by the end of this post.

There was a period in the middle of the decade (roughly 2003 - 2007) where I was pretty out of touch with the metal scene. Although I started to get more acquainted with what was new and going on, looking at the various best of the decade lists made me realize I am not tuned in at all. Scanning lists by Rhapsody, The AV Club, and Metal Sucks, among others, was both illuminating and disappointing. On the one hand, there are many great albums still left for me to discover, but on the other hand (perhaps the right hand?), I haven't even heard of some of these groups.

I was also disappointed that many of my favorite groups received no attention. Now, granted, I lean towards older bands, but except for Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden, I saw very little love towards any band that started releasing records before the late 90s. No Iced Earth? No Nevermore? Amon Amarth? Lacuna Coil? Napalm Death? Fintroll? As I Lay Dying? Skyclad? Arch Enemy? Neurosis? Hel-okay, you get the idea.

Invisible Oranges did a little observing of their own, and found the same reoccurring albums in the published lists, for an inadvertent consensus of the top five:

1. Mastodon - Leviathan
2. Converge - Jane Doe
3. Isis - Oceanic
4.(tie) Opeth - Blackwater Park
4.(tie) Discordance Axis - The Inalienable Dreamless

You know, that's fine. It doesn't inspire me, it doesn't bother me, it just is. Something interesting to look at. I did ponder how many of those albums were actually in the top ten of the "best of the year" lists when they came out. For example, after distilling every list ever in the expanses of the solar system, it was determined that Mastodon's "Leviathan" is the greatest metal album of the Noughties. Okay, but apparently it was NOT the best of 2004, the year it came out. Granted, as time goes on, opinions change, or evolve, or whatever. However, does this mean decade lists are subject to some shifting? After all, I think "Wavering Radiant" is a much more enjoyable Isis album than "Oceanic."

Perhaps the truth is that "best of" lists are nothing more than the writer(s) opinion in that moment of time. Favorites will always be at the top of someone's preference, but there is always fluctuation. My favorite Judas Priest album changes depending on my moods, for example. We are only human, after all.

It's a new decade, as far as conventional wisdom goes (we will not argue about year 1 here), so let's start building some new lists.

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