A detail from “Green” by Philadelphia artist Taisya Kuzmenko
I preface this article, which asks some questions, by telling you that I’m looking for honest answers. I think most of our regular readers are good-hearted people who actually care about this site and therefore may be prone to say things that will make us feel good. Don’t do that. Tell us the truth. If the truth isn’t what we want to hear, don’t worry. I can tell you with near certainty that it won’t change what we do, and we’re thick-skinned enough that it won’t hurt much. The questions are more a matter of curiosity than a gathering of information that would lead to a change in what we do here.
We’re long-winded. Compared to most metal sites our posts tend to go on… and on… and on. Though Andy Synn occasionally brings us reviews in haikus, most of our reviews are long (DGR recently wrote a 600-word piece about one song). Most of the other features are long, too.
For example, I write almost all of the “round-up” posts, which focus on news and new music, and I have a habit of cramming those with a lot of items and a lot of words. Same goes for the MISCELLANY posts (when I get to them) and other regular or semi-regular features I put together here. I could break them up into a string of smaller features and sprinkle them through the day, or many days, as some other sites do. I’m not even sure why I don’t.
Same goes for the song and album premieres — we tend to describe our thoughts and feelings about the music before we come to the music streams. Many other sites don’t do that. They include a few sentences of introduction and then BOOM — there’s the music player.
The posts today that are going to follow this one are typical of what you’ll find here — the jumbo round-up of news and new music that will follow this post, Andy Synn’s 50th edition of The Synn Report (in which he reviews an entire seven-album discography), and Gemma Alexander’s thoughts on Day 2 of Iceland’s recent Eistnaflug festival. None of them will be short and sweet.
So, here’s the serious question:
Do you read what we write? Or do you skip to the music?
It has been a long-standing tradition at this site to include music streams with virtually every post. We make it easy to just listen if you want to. Time is short, there are a ton of competing things with which people can occupy their time, and we understand that not everyone is going to settle in long enough to read every word, or even any of them. And in the end, it’s the music that counts anyway, right?
As I wrote at the outset, this is a matter of (potentially morbid) curiosity. I can’t speak for the other writers, but I’m probably not going to change what I do, regardless of the answers. I write because I enjoy expressing what I feel about music that means something to me — and I write for the bands; I suppose it’s a way of thanking them for what they’ve done. I’m pretty sure they read what we write, regardless of who else does, because that’s human nature. When someone else talks about you or writes about you, you can’t help but want to know what they’re saying.
We also write for you, even if everyone doesn’t read what we write, because we know from our own experience that it can be entertaining to read what someone else writes about music even if you’ve already heard it.
I had a reminder about that recently: As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of Sólstafir, but we didn’t get our advance copy of their new album Ótta until just a couple of days before the entire album went up for streaming. I included news of the album stream in a post, but I wondered out loud whether there was any point in reviewing it when everyone could hear it for themselves. One of our long-time readers left this comment:
“Personally, I find reviews enjoyable to read after the fact because they force me to go back and reexamine my own initial thoughts about that album. Ótta is beautiful, but if you have thoughts about it that range beyond that then I’m certain I’m not the only one who wouldn’t mind hearing them.”
Made me feel good, but it also reminded me that there are reasons to continue writing, even when what we’re writing about has already been heard.
So anyway, please let us know — honestly — whether you read what we write, skim it, or skip over it to get to the music. We can live with the answers, and even if you fervently wish we would change our ways, we probably won’t. But, perhaps paradoxically, we WILL READ your answers.
Yeah, there’s some music here, too. This is a 2014 EP named Dwarfer from Colorado’s Xothist that I heard yesterday.