For better or worse, because of this blog, I spend almost all my listening time on new music, either hunting for new tunes or videos that I think would be worth your time or in preparation for scribbling a review. But not long ago I did something I rarely do any more: put my iPod on shuffle and listened to whatever the machine served up from the 22,000+ songs that are on there. I didn’t listen for long — just long enough to walk to work at the beginning of the day and walk back at the end.
That turned out to be fun, as well as a nice surprise, because the first five songs that Shuffle served up happened to be good. So, I wrote a post about that experience. And I decided to do it again two days ago. And now I’m starting to get a little creeped out. I’m beginning to think my iPod could pass a Turing test for artificial intelligence.
This time it once again served up three good songs in a row (and I stopped at three this time because, as you’ll see, the songs turned out to be long). But the songs also fit together like hands in gloves. All three were longer than average (two of them very long), and each of them was a different type of progressive metal. So here we go — music from Ikuinen Kaamos (Finland), We Were Gentlemen (U.S.), and Odyssey (U.S.).
I first came across this band at the end of 2010 when we were doing that impromptu Finland Tribute Week series (which turned into two weeks of nothing but Finnish metal). Andy Synn had recommended Ikuinen Kaamos to me (and he later named their Fall of Icons release to his list of 2010′s great albums). When I wrote the post that included Ikuinen Kaamos, I had only listened to one song from Fall of Icons — “Condemned” — but I subsequently listened to the rest of the album, too.
As much as I like working on this blog, it has changed my listening habits. One of our missions is to stay abreast of song and video premieres and new albums, sifting through the flood of new metal to find things we believe are worth recommending and reviewing. So I spend almost all my listening time nowadays checking out metal I’ve never heard before. The cost, unfortunately, is that I rarely listen to what’s in the library of albums I’ve accumulated over the years. No more “oldies but goodies” for me.
But yesterday, on a whim, I decided that I’d spend the time walking to and from my job listening to what was on my iPod already, and I used Shuffle to pick what I heard. My iPod Classic is full. It has 22,331 songs on it, and almost all of the shit is metal. To put a new album on there requires that I delete another one, which is horribly painful to do. That process has made the library more top-heavy with newer music over time, which may explain why most of the Shuffle choices turned out to be of relatively recent vintage.
Anyway, it turned out to be a blast, because the first five songs that Shuffle picked were all really good and really beastly. The next couple weren’t as killer, so I decided to just go with the first five in this post. Oddly, two of the five turned out to be from Japanese bands.
Fuckin’ Dismember! What an auspicious way to start the Shuffle medley! I didn’t need reminding about how completely amazing Like An Ever Flowing Stream was — and still is — but it’s been a couple of years since I’ve listened to “Skin Her Alive”. What a thoroughly skin-flaying, meat-grinding experience.