Quality Not Quantity
Or why I mostly review albums that I like
by: Kostas Sarampalis
A long time ago, in a land far far away, a friend gave me a cassette tape with a collection of metal songs. Some Metallica, some Y&T, plenty of Iron Maiden, a bit of Skyclad and a tad of Crimson Glory, a pinch of Judas Priest. The stuff that you would well know of if you were a fan of the genre in the early Nineties. Slowly I went from traditional heavy metal to doom and black metal. And when I got bored, I started expanding, reaching out to artists that could offer me something more interesting, more challenging and, ultimately, more rewarding.

Bands like early Beyond Dawn(*), Emperor and Ulver appealed very much to me, because they were offering something new and outside the norm at the time of release. Of course, it is all relative, since it depends on personal experience and exposure. Note that I am sticking to the music paradigm and not generalising. When I first listened to _Turn Loose the Swans_, it was a totally new aural experience for me (though I didn't understand the album until way too many listens later). A fan of Swans though, would have found the bleakness and darkness of that My Dying Bride's album very familiar indeed, if not a bit pedestrian.

Back to rewards. Being easily bored can be both a negative and a positive trait. Though it limits the length of enjoyment due to quick familiarisation, it urges exploration. For every _Linear Scaffold_ though, there are hundreds of generic black metal albums. Somehow, I am not interested in boring anyone with ten reasons why I find the new Virgin Steele bland and irrelevant. Nor going into detail as to why Blind Guardian's _At the Edge of Time_ is a boring rehash of what the band has done much better in the past. However, I have no problem spending time analysing why Nachtmystium didn't quite succeed living up to the incredible expectations they created with _Assassins_ in their new album _Addicts_. Because the band made an effort, they had a vision that was inspirational, and for that, success or failure notwithstanding, they deserve attention.

With my admittedly limited available time, I want to expand upon albums that try to say or achieve something. I want to show others a potentially new gem that they may have missed. I want to share my excitement. I try not to forget though, that everyone's opinion is simply that: their opinion. True, it is filtered through experience (or lack of) and breadth and depth of knowledge, but it is only one person's opinion, at that particular moment in time. And personally, I am much more interested in and get a better kick from writing about albums that make me -feel- something, rather than ones that pass me by unscathed.

[(*) If you heard _Longing for Scarlet Days_ in 1994 you should have a feeling of what I am on about. As a second side note, that band lost the plot a bit when they thought that mixing Atari music with doom-lite was smart and progressive -- it was neither.]

(article submitted 22/12/2010)

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