Question Of The Week: The Finalé Frontier
Every few years since the internet, the “album format” is pronounced dead by somebody. Yet what has changed even now in the era of grandmas one-click purchasing digital music (and your teeny cousin sharing episodes of Powerpuff Girls)? Not much: Singles are singles, songs are grouped onto long-players and packaged with unifying art and design, and listeners edit out the duds. For non-blockbuster acts, the album hasn’t evolved into a random collection of would-be hits; it’s still a journey over peaks and through valleys. Some of the best jams get left behind for ones that match vibe and theme. And track order still matters; in 2013, a band still better keep ears riveted to their album through its final notes. Let’s talk about that in this MetalSucks Question Of The Week!
Inspired by a sorta-new era in the recording industry, we asked our staff the following:
What post-2000 album has the best finale?
Hmm what you think? Join the roundtable below then have an awesome long wknd!!
The final song can really make or break an an album’s “perfection” level. If it comes to a close with a song that just doesn’t fit quite right, I’m left feeling slightly jilted. Disfear‘s Live the Storm (2008), however, ends with “Phantom,” which embodies everything an ending track should be. The seven-minute track has got a slow, sludge-laden build to the band’s signature d-beat goodness, with Tomas Lindberg’s aggressive vocals coming in at just the right moment, and continuing until the slow down at the end of the track (key for any album finale). Not only is it a great end track in general, it’s also one of the strongest tracks on the album. I mean, it’s Disfear; I really don’t expect anything less than stellar.
A bunch of my favorite acts do not share my philosophy about an album’s final tracks. That’s a mild bummer. Plus, a few awesome finales are sullied by a throwaway outro jam or a great-ish hidden track spaced by 20 minutes of nothing. But the set-up and knockdown of He Is Legend‘s It Hates You (2009) is awesome! It’s more stressful than Mastodon’s awesome close to Blood Mountain — which is set up, knock down, and breathe-it-out, so a listener is not left laying there bleeding — but if there’s no resolution for its creator, it makes sense that there’s none for its listeners. It’s a tall task cuz side B really ramps up, so “That’s Nasty” and “Mean Shadows” (below) are required to be more awesome than a string of progressively mind-blowing jamz. Success!
Since it’s fresh on the mind I’m going to go with “Benthic: The Origin of Our Wishes” on The Ocean‘s recent opus Pelagial. Understand the album’s structure: It gets progressively heavier, and follows a thematic and musical exploration from the surface of the sea to its deepest crevices. The album’s closer delivers in every possible way! Epic finish to an epic album.
Animosity‘s Animal likely would rank lower among my favorite albums if not for the anarchic decay of “A Passionate Journey.” It’s one of few tracks where the band slows things down, a sludgy groove accompanied by a thickly saturated wah solo that’s positively redolent. It takes more than half its length to wind down, all percussion-and-static collapse reinforcing the hopeless, howling tracks “You Can’t Win” and “Progression in Defeat.” Once the ending’s fully drawn out, we’re convinced that things aren’t getting any better anytime soon. Fittingly, “A Passionate Journey” ends Animosity’s last recording before their breakup, adding a more tangible aspect of loss to the music’s disintegration.