My Thoughts on the Earache Records’ “Metalizer” Spotify App
One of the biggest complaints leveled at Spotify by users is that the service can be incredibly intimidating if you don’t know exactly what it is you want to listen to. Spotify will be addressing this concern with improved music discovery tools in their soon-to-be-released update. But now Earache Records has released a Spotify App of their own that’s tailored to metalheads, the first app to be released specifically for metal. No surprise that Earache Records is the first record label to get on board this medium; they’ve been ahead-of-the-curve technology-wise for years and have been vocal proponents of Spotify.
Earache’s Metalizer app automatically generates custom metal playlists that draw from all the metal available on Spotify, not just Earache releases. Users can adjust four sliders — “Metal,” “Death,” “Thrash” and “Grind,” — depending on how much of each sub-genre they want in their playlist, and then a fifth slider determining the number of tracks in the playlist. Press the “Metalize” button and a playlist materializes before your very eyes. Try the Metalizer app out for yourself right now.
My first thought upon looking at the Metalizer interface was “What does the ‘Metal’ slider do? Isn’t all of this stuff metal?” So I turned the “Metal” slider all the way up and everything else all the way down. I ended up with a playlist that includes Diamond Head, Van Halen, Alice in Chains, Nevermore, John 5, Serj Tankian, Black Tusk, Rise Against, Heaven & Hell, Baroness, Deftones, and more. I guess the commonality there is that none of those bands could be considered particularly “brutal,” and that most of them utilize only clean singing.
All the other sliders work pretty much as expected when turned all the way up with everything else all the way down: “Death” produced a playlist of Behemoth, Meshuggah, Ion Dissonance, Dying Fetus, Deicide, Misery Index, etc; “Thrash” gave me Machine Head, Metallica, Gama Bomb and Bonded by Blood; and “Grind” gave me Pig Destroyer, Wormrot, Napalm Death and Converge. Some of the bands weren’t exactly perfect fits (i.e. Converge in “Grind” and Behemoth in “Death”) but make total sense given the limited scope of sub-genre sliders available. Since the app was produced by Earache, it makes sense that they’d mostly avoid sub-genres the label doesn’t have much of a hand in such as black metal and djent.
What’s not clear: if I put “Grind” all the way up and everything else all the way down, are the results any different than if I put “Grind” only halfway up while keeping everything else all the way down? In other words, does adjusting the Grind slider to halfway in this instance make the music any less grindy/brutal, or do the slider levels only determine how many of a particular kind of track appears in a playlist? I think probably the latter. Adjusting all the sliders to various levels produces results as expected: the higher you set a slider, the greater the number of tracks from that sub-genre appear in your playlist.
What would be really cool — and would take this app to the next level — would be if the sliders worked in tandem within each song instead of simply controlling the number of songs in each style that appear on the final playlist. For example, if I set Thrash and Death all the way up, my playlist would consist entirely of bands that mix both thrash and death metal into their sound (i.e. Revocation) instead of a playlist that includes Death bands and Thrash bands. See the difference? But I’m guessing that would require a shitload more encoding and metadata about these tracks than is readily available.
The Metalizer App is good for what it is: the perfect tool for metalheads looking to quickly assemble a playlist without doing it all manually. Simple, but effective, and definitely helpful for discovering new bands. There’s really nothing not to like about it; it’s exactly as advertised, even if it’s nothing revolutionary or ground-breaking. Check it out here.