A funny thing happened today at the Arsies, when Symphony X went against The Black Dahlia Murder. I'd assumed that BDM's “Ritual” would overpower Symphony X's “Iconoclast”. But as soon as I started listening to “Ritual”, I changed my mind, and Symphony X gained an immediate advantage. The BDM is just so throat-achingly raw and unsubtle in its low pleasure. To be sure, the album has at least three tracks that stand out, plus plenty of classic moments in at least half the other songs, but the rest of the material can feel a bit tedious.
And then, to confirm the win, I listened to “Iconoclast” in its entirety. And that's when I gave the win back to BDM. See, “Iconoclast” is certainly excellent. Its crisp professionalism does more than just counterbalance the BDM's thuggishness; it rejects it altogether. But goes too far in its technicality, and thus proves how necessary the lowbrow approach is. And by the gods is it ever ponderously long. The overtechnicality becomes especially tedious once you break the 30-minute mark, still with no end in sight.
So then I went back and re-listened to “Ritual” in its entirety. And everything that bothered me this morning about it actually made me smile this afternoon. Plus, while both albums can be called derivative in their own ways, at least the BDM sounds like a blend of different bands (whereas it's hard to not hear the Symphony X as anything but an alternate-universe Dream Theater). And you know what? “Ritual” just outcharms “Iconoclast” a wee bit, enough to take the day once and for all.
BDM goes up against Textures in our first Quarterfinal next week! In the meantime, two more metal stalwarts vie for my affection: Anthrax and Unearth.