Scoring 8.3 or above on Pitchfork, usually gets you a ‘Best New Music’ designation¹ and nearly always guarantees a place in their end of year top 50 albums. Unless you are a metal band.
Last year, five metal bands: Thou, Old Man Gloom, The Inter Arma, Tombs, and Agalloch scored 8.3 or above but missed out on the end of year list (and BNM designation). Only one non-metal act managed this feat (Detroit dance music producer Theo Parrish).
This year only one metal album² scored over 8.3, Tribulation’s The Children of The Night (8.4), but a surprising number just missed out. Of the 14 scores of 8.2 handed out six of them went to metal artists: Horrendous, VHOL, Dead to a Dying World, Krallice, Locrian,and Bell Witch. Is there a glass ceiling for metal bands?
I’m not expecting to see The Children of The Night make the end of year list (which is out due out later this week, possibly today) and expect it will be the highest scored album of new music not to make the list.
The question is, if you aren’t going to treat this genre of music as equal, why cover it at all? It’s not like they cover ever other genre, so why cover metal only to stick it in a ghetto?
I’m going to assume it’s some kind of brand perception issue, which frankly, is kind of depressing.
¹They’ve slightly muddied the water this year by giving a BNM to an album that scored 8.2, Empress Of’s Me
²I’m not including metal-influenced crossover acts like Baroness or Deafheaven
Ouch. Early losers in the end of year album list: Prurient (not metal, BUT released on metal-heavy label Profound Lore). Scored an 8.5, relegated to honourable mentions list. Likewise Viet Cong’s eponymous debut (8.5 – dragged out of the main list because of this year’s name controversies, no doubt), Lower Dens ‘Escape From Evil’ (8.3 – some great tracks on here for sure, but 8.3 always seemed a little high for an album with so much filler), Levon Vincent (8.3, BNM’d, haven’t heard it myself).
Susanne Sundfør is this year’s Taylor Swift, in that her album ‘Ten Love Songs’ wasn’t reviewed on release, but has got a mention as one of the best of the year (I’m a fan of Sundfør, though I found the album pleasant but underwhelming).
Pingback: Pitchfork 2015: fewer albums reviewed, less of them terrible | In The Pharmacy