Anatomy of an Album: The Nuts and Bolts

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There’s been much discussion lately over what makes an album “classic” or “groundbreaking.” In the last edition of this series, we chatted about the importance of album construction and track listing. The layout of the album is the blueprint that guides the construction of the other elements. However, I’ve been told that our dear old pal the Devil is in the details, and as trite as that cliche is, it holds merit in this case. It is often one tiny misstep that differentiates a good album from a great album. So in the spirit of venerating what’s great and deriding what isn’t, today we’re going to explore some other aspects of metal album construction on which bands can easily err.

The Introduction

As we examined last time, setting the stage for the building tension of your album with some aural exposition is a good thing. It prepares listeners for what’s to come without giving away all the secrets. It gives the first hint at a new sound or evolution without revealing all of a band’s hand. It’s an important element that often gets overlooked. It serves a similar purpose as a welcome mat or a nice spring wreath on your front step. Sure, it doesn’t add necessary functionality, but a listener will often notice something amiss when it isn’t present. However, introductions are extremely easy to blow.

Wrong: The boring ambient/chuggy introduction – It’s almost as if the band just needed to fill an extra minute on the album. If this track doesn’t provide an excellent lead for the first real song, begin to establish the rising action, or demonstrate some newfound technique or artistic approach, chop it. We’re just going to press skip anyway.

Right: The introduction connected to the first real song – Spending twenty or thirty seconds at the beginning of the first track to add a little exposition can actually do a world of good. It can be even longer if it somehow leads perfectly into the vibe of the song itself. Plus, we have no reason to skip it because it’s already part of a song and not just filler.

___________________

The Length

If I had a nickel for every time I heard the Masterlord whine about an album being too long, I’d be able to afford some head protection to ward off ravenous hawks. Still, my dolorous colleague has a point: excessively long albums can easily eradicate all the good will a band builds during its run time. I don’t believe there’s any hard or fast rule for how long an album should be. I do, however, think bands should be sensitive to the genre in which they’re operating and not overstay their welcome. It would be foolish for a grind band to write an 80-min album. Show a little restraint and cut some of that fat.

Wrong: The double album – Speaking of fat, there is almost zero reason for any band ever to release a double album. There is almost always an overabundance of disgusting gristle that just ruins the overall taste. Trim some of those pointless tracks. Release the second disc months later as an EP. Just don’t hit us with 140 minutes of music when only about 50 minutes are actually good. Take a little extra time to refine what you have and only release the creme de la creme.

Right: Play to your strengths – If you realistically only have a handful of good songs for a release, drop an EP. I’ve stated before that I prefer full-lengths, but it shows wisdom to not release an album loaded with filler when you could alternatively release a lean and mean EP and build anticipation for things to come. Four or five good tracks standing alone beat a full-length of 14 tracks with only 5 or 6 good songs.

___________________

Variety

Great bands often reach a point where they can release whole albums of songs that all sound exactly the same. However, most bands out there slogging it in metal right now aren’t Bolt Thrower or Amon Amarth. Most bands don’t have the riffs and pedigree to keep churning out exactly the same material. Therefore, most bands should attempt to inject a little bit of excitement up in their lifestyles by writing songs of varying tone, speed, emotion, and even technicality. This even has the bonus effect of helping bands distinguish themselves from others in their same genre. Bonus GBPs!

Wrong: We play a specialized genre so we can get away with it – Nothing turns me off of an album faster than when the first three songs all sound exactly the same. Niche subgenres in metal are notorious for this. Just because you play in a scene with only five other bands doesn’t mean that you all have to write the same exact songs. Add a little spice! Avoid the trap of always sticking to what you know works. Evolve a little and try to surprise your fans.

Right: Follow the template – Sticking to a blueprint for album construction, even if it is the classic approach, can often inject much needed variety to the songs in place. You can’t climb a hill if you’re running on a level plane. A little variation always serves to enhance the dynamics and make the album feel more immense as a whole (as long as the elements aren’t too cluttered). Plus, bands that do this well often make year end lists. Metal would be boring if every band sounded the same, so take the time to build in that diversity.

I easily could have added many more elements to this list, but I’m going to keep stringing you suckers along with edition after edition. So now it’s your turn to tell me what the vital elements for albums are and how easily they can be screwed up. Sound off in the comments below.

  • I too like grabbing me a big handful of nuts.

    https://sjacmarathoners.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/handfulnuts.jpg

    • Gurp, that’s nuts!

    • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

      I prefer cashews.

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))

      Walnuts are actually drupes.

  • Edward/Breegrodamus

    By these merits, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Miss Machine nails each category. Lots of variety (even for them), great introduction, perfect album length.

    • IT GOATS IT GOATS IT GOATS

      And therefore Miss Machine is a damn good album.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        GUILLOGOAT

      • I haven’t met a DEP album I did not like.

    • Dr. Dubz

      It’s a killer album

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        It’s over a decade old now, I would have no problem labeling it as a “classic”.

    • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

      I still prefer Ire Works, but Miss Machine is still a near masterpiece.

      • Dr. Dubz

        I like Ire Works more as well.

      • MoshOff

        I love Ire Works, and even though it’s on the shorter side sometimes the electronic/ambient stuff strikes me as just a little bit filler-ish.

        • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

          I actually like that stuff, it reminds me of Aphex Twin at times, which is never a bad thing.

        • It was great for me when I was first getting into them.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        Lately I have been really, really, really partial to Option Paralysis, which I didn’t like initially for some weird reason. I’ve been told I need to spend more time with One Of Us Is The Killer, which I listened to once and found to be a bit repetitive and then listened to it again recently but was not focused, lol

        • Dagon

          One of us must dieee
          And the killer won’t survive

          AND THE KILLER WONT SURVIIIIIIIIIVE

          “DUN DUN DUN, DDDUN”

          • The Beargod

            That song/album got old after a while.

        • Dagon

          I realized today how hard it is to “translate” a guitar’s sound to English.

          • Widdly widdlies are a universal language.

          • Dagon

            But I want to use ã and â and á without sounding like a madman. Or a Finn.

          • The Beargod

            Finns don’t use those letters! That’s a paddlin’

          • Dagon

            I know but u use crazy Finn accents

          • The Beargod

            Häistä sinä häiskä kuule!

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Hän ei ymmärrä meitä yli-ihmisiä.

          • Pagliacci is Kvlt O)))
          • Dr. Dubz

            This is one of my favorite gifs.

          • Mother Shabubu III

            NEW GENRE NAME. Djent is so 2011, Widdly-Widdly is the future and the now.

          • It’s easier with drums.

            TuturupáTuturupá

            Pssst Psst.

            No, wait, isn’t.

            Note: I always listen to this drum performance <3 The pedal thingy in the chorus is so catchy.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HYG7C3tgec

          • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

            Weedle deedle deedle?

        • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

          I agree with you on all but OOUITK, I LOVE One Of Us Is The Killer.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            I’m gonna play it again soon, fuck it.

        • Mother Shabubu III

          One Of Us Is The Killer is killer. I think it’s as close to them slowing down as we’ll get. I think it makes things more interesting when they aren’t firing at 1,000 rpms every song. “When I Lost My Bet”, “Understanding Decay”, as well as “Crossburner” are some of their best tunes to date in my opinion.

          PS: “Chinese Whispers” is the tits.

        • Definitely revisit, it’s very good and not a challenging listen.

        • EsusMoose

          One of us is fantastic, it was more of perfecting certain parts of their style with some additions to the mix than a more experimental release

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            I’m gonna play it again super soon, like this week for sure. Front to back no interruptions!

  • Ricky

    I nominate Helix – Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge as best album ever!

    • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

      I vaguely remember my dad giving me their ‘Animal House’ (I think that was the name of it) cassette when I was a kid.

      • Ricky

        That’s a song on Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge.
        I thought you were into Katy Perry & Margarita’s?

        • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

          I’ve matured. I’m now into Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain.

          • Ricky

            But is it true your body is so efficient you don’t have to poop?

          • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

            Indeed! No one poops or pees in Best Korea.

          • Ricky

            Wow… After a night of pepperoni, chicken chips, Roc vodka & dope I have to spend like 3 fucking hours on the toilet!

  • More bands should DEFINITELY release more EPs. Easier to keep up with and there’s no filler to dull your senses between good tracks. Especially when it comes to the faster or more extreme stuff. Slayer got it right back in 1986 with Reign In Blood, it’s a shame more bands didn’t follow suit.

    • Gurpy, I’m thinking too that your argument should be applied to a lot of really extreme blasty metal bands.

      If we drag the Dubya’s opinion on variety, I think it will be best to really condense all the elements in a few but powerful shots.

      • IT GOATS IT GOATS IT GOATS

        You’re so right i’ve got nothing more to add.

        • 20 mins of intense blast beats and D-beats>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>60 mins of same blast beats.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus
          • WOAH! What’s this?

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            I was (somewhat) agreeing with your sentiment about intense blast beats and D-beats by posting this album, Abandon All Life from Nails. It’s seventeen minutes long, so it fits lol.

            On the flip side, some black metal bands get away with very blasty albums that reach forty minutes and some even push an hour.

          • This Nails thing is good, Ed! Thanks for sharing. It’s the kind of grind that I like, with groove.

            Also, that black metal comment reminded me why I have so many opinions and why I’m so picky with that genre. All the stuff I listened when I discovered was very monotone to me, or maybe I was with another mindset, but still the blasty sections and the long play time was too much for me.

          • The Beargod

            Technically Nails isn’t grind but Hardcore.
            #WillFuckYouUp

          • Who’s going to fuck me up?

            Nails? You? Municipal Waste?

          • The Beargod

            Municipal Waste! I prefer Iron Reagan!
            But I meant the complexity of genres will fuck you up.

          • This is awesome! :O

          • Vladimir Poutine

            This. Nails is soooooo good.

          • more beer

            They kill it live too!

          • Vladimir Poutine

            I’m expecting to confirm that next Saturday at New England Metal & Hardcore.

          • more beer

            I saw them last year at Denver Black Sky. They were the best band of a weekend filled with really good bands.

          • Vladimir Poutine

            Yet another reason why I miss the shit out of Denver.

      • Especially extreme blasty metal bands.

    • Cosigned, I’d rather have 5 bangers (10 if you’re a grind band) and enjoy it from back to front.

      • Yes. That Black Crown Initiate EP from 2013 is a perfect example. It is perfection from start to finish (and it helps that the songs are thematically tied together as well, except for the second track). I love their full-length too, but the EP is where it’s at.

  • Hey! I’m enjoying new Barren Earth and it got this scheme talked in here.

    From the Depths in Spring is a good intro, paired with Howl. The tandem really demonstrate what’s the album: melody, proggy stuff.

    I’m even liking the new vocalist. Very interesting album. Set Alight is a monster of a song, with plenty of tempo variations.

    • Dr. Dubz

      Glad you’re enjoying that new one!

      • I’m listening On Lonely Towers and it’s doomy great approved. This is a very powerful album.

      • Duby, do you think I can enjoy Death Karma? How’s it?

        • Dr. Dubz

          It’s extremely diverse and rock solid throughout. I’d give it a try, but it definitely isn’t a positive album.

          • Thank you, bro <3.

          • Actiondonkey FKA Ferris Mueler

            Did you check out Last Dive? It has a great doomy feel with some industrial, 96′ era mansonesque angst and even a bit of avant-garde stylings mixed in. It’s pure gold except for the first track.

          • Hope I can remember so many albums!

          • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

            Awesome as hell though and the songs flow perfectly.

  • IT GOATS IT GOATS IT GOATS

    Even Amon Fucking Amarth have variety in their songs. They follow a very rigid formula, and are never innovative or anything. However, they do stuff like follow a faster song up with a slower song, or a riff driven song with a melody driven song. Let’s see a Deathcore band do that.

    • Fuck innovation.

      • IT GOATS IT GOATS IT GOATS

        Innovation isn’t metal.

        • Innovation is for hipsters.

          • Dr. Dubz

            “If this riff doesn’t sound exactly like it was written in Florida in ’91, I’m not interested.” – Gurp

          • Go drunk to Morrisound or go home drunk.

          • *wipes tear*
            You just get me, man.

        • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

          A7X’s vocals, guitar, drums, etc. take much more talent to pull off than anything the beatles could ever have made

          -ajcom24, 2 years ago

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            Goddamnit. You’re making it very hard to love your gimmick right now.

          • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

            I agree, only because I hate the Beatles that much.

          • more beer

            I hate this guy almost as much as I hate the Beatles!

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        It just occurred to me you are Gurp from someone else’s comment.

        • I-
          buh-
          wha-
          You mean my distinct literary voice doesn’t come out in the short, clipped comments I leave about half the time?

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            The worst part is we have had numerous conversations since you changed names / avatars and I was like, yo this dude is cool he likes The Mother of Virtues, but who is he?!

          • Who is that mysterious Archangel?

      • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

        Bolt Thrower.

    • Dr. Dubz

      You are correct. The sound is pretty uniform, but they do vary up rhythm as necessary to keep things interesting.

    • Actiondonkey FKA Ferris Mueler

      I’d read on a certain sucky website that bands like Amon Amarth or Dying Fetus would never instill any variety in their work with the assumption their listeners would decry anything different. I disagree.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947WADZbohQ

    • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

      The beautiful thing about Brokencyde’s art is that their lyrics are open to interpretation.

      -That One | Posted on Feb 8th, 2011

      • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

        You lost me. I hate that band so much.

        • RepostedAvengedSevenfoldFan

          Ohmygod, I am 13&&pregnant. I disagree with you very much so, brokeNCYDE is my main source of inspiration.

          -13&&;prego • 3 years ago

        • Dagon

          Did it really take this long for you to think that he “lost you”?

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            Yeah. I enjoyed the gimmick because of how elaborate it was. It’s getting old though.

          • Lacertilian

            This fish cuts through!

      • You’re back to the front! <3

        BACK TO DA FRRRRRRONT!
        YOU WILL DO, WHAT I SAY, WHEN I SAY…

  • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

    A fantastic article again W., but…
    I know an album that follows all of these that’ll get on your nerves,
    Get on your nerves,
    Get on your nerves,
    I know an album that follows all of these that’ll get on your nerves,
    Get-get-get on your nerves.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DgD2MJ23U8

  • Actiondonkey FKA Ferris Mueler

    Nothing like a good introduction to get you primed. Or just start full-throttle:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsckYAFVMX8

    • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

      To get you primed for white noise noodling?

      • Lacertilian

        Entity rips.

        • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

          I can take them one song at a time, but overall it’s noodling on steroids to me.

  • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

    OK, in all seriousness, here is another album that follows it (TIAH does follow it dagnabbit), but that people will actually like.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCDjP4JnpGU

    • Dr. Dubz

      I love this album, but sometimes it feels like it’s really dragging, especially those last three tracks.

      • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

        I am very biased, as Tool are my second favourite band ever, but I feel that it would take away from the album as a whole if they weren’t there, especially as Disposition, Reflection and Triad are a three song piece in their own right.

    • There are some vibes and some sounds in that album that I liked it. But the overall narrative doesn’t make me revisit it too much. It’s too much dense and all over the place, to my opinion.

  • Every song on Satan’s Host’s new double album is great, so it’s not even an issue of filler. It’s that I rarely have time to sit attentively through an hour and a half of music at once, so I end up picking something else.

    TLDR – I’m fucking whining about long albums again.

    • #IT’STOODAMNLONG!

      Srs, bands. Stop doing over long albums.

    • Super Nintendo Chalmers

      Speaking of Satans Host, I finally checked out Virgin Sails.

      What a ripper.

    • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

      Unless its Tool, then they can always get away with it. EDIT: I am very biased though (even if they are pretentious fucks in person).

      • Tool can’t even get away with existing.

        • Shrimp ov Bad Opinions

          We finally found something we agree on, Masterlard.

        • Dr. Dubz

          Don’t mind the Masterlord. He’s crabby because he didn’t get enough sleep last night.

        • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

          I would disagree with you Masterlord, but I’m at risk of being kicked off here most days anyway, and I don’t want that.

        • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

          I agree.

        • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

          For once I disagree with you.

    • The Beargod

      You can’t spend an hour and a half in straight with music, that’s a paddlin’

    • I have a short attention span so the shorter the album the better. If anything, you want leave a listener starving for more so they go back give your stuff repeat listens.

  • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

    What about the anatomy of a concept album? How would that work?

    • Dr. Dubz

      Concept albums are a bit trickier. The Masterlord did tackle that topic in a way in the early days.

      • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

        It is hard to make a good concept album. It’s even harder to make a great one.

        • Dr. Dubz

          I think that logic really applies to every album. You wouldn’t believe how much crap we’ve waded through for the Best unsigned Bands contest.

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            I agree. There’s a lot of work needed to make a great album. I’ve always made really bad albums but they’re usually done in one take.

        • The best concept and temathic albums must be wrote by people who read a lot, I think.

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            Same goes with rock operas, which are different from concept albums in my opinion .

        • Yeah. I think it’s because not only do you have to have a cohesive narrative, but you also have to have good songs that stand on their own outside of the concept. If it’s a cool concept but not an interesting song by itself, then why is it there? I use Operation Mindcrime as a good example.

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            I consider Scenes From A Memory a good one as well. The Wall on the other hand is not a rock opera but a really good double album as the plot is non existent. Same for Obsolete by Fear Factory.

    • I think the most important thing on a concept album is the narrative. The lenght is also a problem that should be thinked very closely while writing the lyrics and the music. But, the narrative process is the most important thing, to me.

      • Actiondonkey FKA Ferris Mueler

        My favorite concept album has to be Fear Factory’s Obsolete. The album booklet has a story to connect each song together as if you’re reading/listening to the travels of a character in the post-apocalyptic future.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus

          My favorite concept album ever is Leak Bros’ Waterworld. The whole album is loosely connected tales about using PCP. Eleven tracks, intro, outro, one skit, never gets old.

    • Mother Shabubu III

      Or worse, the dreaded concept double album!

      • Dr. Dubz

        NOSTRADAMUS!!!!!

        • Mother Shabubu III

          Or the last Coheed album. Still have no idea what is going on during the second half conceptually, and the way the chose the track listing the second half is almost anticlimactic musically.

      • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

        Concept double albums are very hard to make. Very few are good.

  • Shrimp ov Bad Opinions

    The first point is somewhat situational in my opinion: for example, I like the intro to Insomnium’s Above the Weeping World and never skipped it whenever I listened to that album.
    Repetitiveness and lenght however most of the time completely ruin an album for me, I end up not liking the last 3 or so tracks of most 1h+ long albums simply because I’m tired.

    • That’s, to me, every Insomnium record :/ They write too much long albums with fillers.

      • Shrimp ov Bad Opinions

        They could definitely cut some stuff, especially on the later albums, but Above the Weeping World is just to good for me to say anything bad about it.

  • Super Nintendo Chalmers

    The intro to the Speedwolf debut in unfuckwithable..

    • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

      I love your name and photo.

    • Hola, Súper Nintendo Chalmers.

  • I was whining about intros being unnecessary to Dubya, but when done right, they do really set the stage. Trail of Dead murdered the intro game with the first tracks on Madonna and World’s Apart.
    …if anyone in the world cares about that band.

    • Dr. Dubz

      Harm’s Way write killer intros.

      • Dis tr00

      • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

        Speaking of, did they ever get their instruments back/ have the singer snap the perps in half like dry twigs?

        • Dr. Dubz

          ionno

    • Super Nintendo Chalmers

      Sounds like some Austin hipster shit, bro.

    • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

      I love ’em, especially Worlds Apart and the new one.

  • The Beargod

    I think the problem of double albums isn’t the fact that they are so long (you have four writing guys and rigorous training, you can do it in 2-3 years, stop whining) but rather the fact that there is usually no such effort, there’s no repeated motifs or other conceptual repetition which is required of most 40+ minute albums.

    Case in Point 1) Svartir Sandar, two albums, neither really long on their own, both enjoyable alone and together. And conceptual repetition throughout.

    • Dr. Dubz

      I was trying to think of a good double album. I actually really like The Ocean’s Precambrian.

      • MoshOff

        Opeth’s Damnation/Deliverance, I guess that only sort of counts though.

      • The Beargod

        I don’t think that Soilwork isn’t bad
        despite it’s length. It’s just two aight albums instead of a double album.

        • I liked that Soilwork’s album, but it was very tiresome to hear it. Still got some really good stuff.

          • The Beargod

            That’s kinda the catch, double album has to feel like a coherent full-length but both halves must be enjoyable on their own.

      • Dagon

        Use Your Illusion hahahhahahhaha

        • MoshOff

          Took the words from my mouth.

          • Dagon

            Some of my favorite GnR songs are found in both UYI. Both albums could use some trimming, there’s definitely some forgettable tracks in there. Not a lot, but they’re there.

          • MoshOff

            I think I like 4, maybe 5 songs from both those. Too many covers methinks.

          • Dagon

            As you’ll find out later today, I really like covers.

        • Yellow & Green

          • MoshOff

            Ooohhhhh, that’s a bingo.

          • Dagon

            This. Yellow & Green is amazing. I almost submitted Take My Bones Awat but then I remembered there’s an intro before it. For ROTW that is.

          • MoshOff

            TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE MAAA
            BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONESAWAAAAAAY

          • Dr. Dubz

            That’s really the only song from that album that has stuck with me.

          • Dagon

            Really? That’s odd. I find the guitar work extremely memorable. Right after Take My Bones Away it goes “tan darandan tan tan tan tã nanaaaa”

          • Dr. Dubz

            I dunno. It was a bit too non-metal for me. Really enjoyed Blue.

          • Dagon

            If you listen to them chronologically they increased the amount of melody in each consecutive album. The EPs First and Second are way sludgier, then Red and Blue are progressive sludge and Green & Yellow introduces a lot more rock elements, and the end of the harsh vocals.

          • Dr. Dubz

            I have everything they’ve done. I just found myself not wanting to listen to Yellow and Green after a while.

          • Dagon

            I can understand that sentiment. I’m curious if they will keep changing or as to whether they’ll kinda pull back on the next album.

          • Dagon

            I am also really excited about the new Intronaut for the same reason. I know we are Intronaut buddies.

          • Dr. Dubz

            Aye, that we are.

          • I wish I was like 10% as talented as John Baizley.

          • Dagon

            You are far better looking, though.

            Btw, when’s the new Electric Friends coming out?

          • The singer dude is working on a solo album (as am I), so it might get pushed to Autumn. We r lazy.

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            My current project is probably never going to be finished. I wrote some poetry I was going to put a backing track to and release it as an EP but my computer is not fixed yet.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Yellow >>>> Green

            Could be that Yellow is first, a tiny bit.

          • Dagon

            +1

          • Lacertilian

            The only two double albums I can think of that I think deserve to remain doubles would be Physical Graffiti & Wu’s Forever.

          • Actiondonkey FKA Ferris Mueler

            Damn Joe beat me to it!

          • Lacertilian

            Red Album or snooze.

      • MoshOff

        Also Stadium Arcadium by RHCP. Not metal, but killer songs throughout with plenty of variety.

        • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

          I actually found it to have a bit of filler. Before you get at me due to my FNM fanboyism, I actually like RHCP (Although I will never forgive Kiedis for his treatment of Bungle), and there is an hour long masterpiece in Stadium Arcadium, there is also an hour that is not as good as the killer. Its never bad, but it is inconsistent.

        • Dagon

          This album is one of the biggest disappointments of my life. Kiedis said in an interview leading up to it that it would sound like Black Sabbath mixed with their funkier older stuff.

          It sounded nothing like I had envisioned. I never even listened to their last album (wit the new guitarboy) because of that.

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            I haven’t listened to them since then either. The only album of theirs I own is Californication due to their inconsistency. I sold the other one.

          • MoshOff

            EI GUITARBOI

            I haven’t listened to the last one either. No Frusciante, no thanks. And lol @ Black Sabbath mixed with the older stuff. Nothing any band does ever will come close to Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but Stadium Arcadium is definitely the best thing they’ve done since then.

          • Dagon

            BSSM is my muthafuckin jam

          • Lacertilian

            Listening to Kiedis was your first error.

      • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

        Electric Ladyland is a classic double album. Same goes with Warehouse by Husker Du.

        • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

          I loooooooooove Husker Du, especially ‘The Living End’, which is still one of the loudest CD’s I’ve ever heard.

          • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

            Zen Arcade is one of the best punk albums ever.

      • Actiondonkey FKA Ferris Mueler

        Baroness – Yellow & Green is a great double album. As is AC/DC Live, the 2nd album I ever bought.

        Edit – just saw Joe beat me to Y&G

        • Lacertilian

          I’ll pay you on the AC/DC Live but not on the Y&G.
          I found the Blue Album disappointing after the awesome Red, then the Y&G was like two discs worth of lesser Blue material.

      • Maudlin of the Well’s Bath/Leaving Your Body Map. Perfect mirrors of each other.
        Variety? Check.
        Badass intro? Check.
        Filler? No check.
        Death Metal? Check.
        Wistful folk? Check.
        Math Rock? Check.
        Pizza? Check.

        • Dr. Dubz

          Boom! That’s a band I’ve intended to check out but have not.

    • The Beargod

      Also double albums are a better way to release your music than 80+ minute albums. At least I can listen to it in pieces.

    • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

      Most of the problem with double albums to me is that it often seems like a bunch of b-sides thrown together, with almost no flow. And far too often, they come with a corny, half-assed concept. There are exceptions, though, like Outkast’s ‘Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’. Didn’t have a concept, but the songs flowed perfectly from disc to disc.

  • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

    “Wrong: The double album – Speaking of fat, there is almost zero reason for any band ever to release a double album.”

    This album would like to have a word with you! By far my favorite CD(s) of 2011, and it’s a double with zero filler.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwZR0CFbJ4M&list=PLPiRpP9ylhgJD0f7vb1_ODwes0_aTCZbx

  • KimJongUn’s Crunchy Chest Hair

    Think double albums are rough? I went through And One’s new set last week:

    http://djsbag.com/uploads/posts/2014-08/2098513634_and-one-magnet-(premium-box).jpg

    A few years back, I got all of Alphaville’s ‘Crazytown’ set, which was 20 CDs long. Granted, it’s almost all unreleased stuff rather than a concept album, but that took me over a month to get through. Worth it though!

  • The #1 main offsense many bands commit is too much filler. Whether it be intros, outros, interludes and any other break in the action. Just give me the songs.

    • Guacamole Jim

      Looking at you, Tool.

  • CT-12

    Pilgrim’s last album “Void Worship” had a fucking sweet intro and a bunch of different intros to songs. Mind you, all these intros and instrumentals made people really not seem to like this album (and I prefer the songs where there are singing), but I do think they utilized them pretty well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NDCchq0WtM&list=PLBHGj3hOKh5s4MaxZer7L0jk1QoMAVQqn

  • OldMetalHead

    Great article W. There are some good double albums out there, but it’s easy to over do it like you say. I thought Stone Sour’s last effort where they split up House of Gold and Bones Vol. 1 & 2 by six months was mostly successful. By the time I got sick of Vol. 1, Vol. 2 was coming out, and both had some really good tracks on them.

    • Dr. Dubz

      I really think that’s a solid approach to space them out, even if they’re thematically linked.

  • the ultimate double album (JJD where u at?)
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8a/Quadrophenia_(album).jpg

    • Metaphysical Anus

      No.

  • Simon “Djentcrusher” Phoenix

    Yeah, but what happens when you release too many EPS?

    You become like Sabbat.

    http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Sabbat/580

    • Dr. Dubz

      Bolzer also needs to drop a full length soon.

  • Simon “Djentcrusher” Phoenix

    To keep with the discussion of EPs and album length, one thing i feel that usually doesn’t work is when a band releases an EP and then releases the full-length consisting of two or more songs from the EP. Unless the songs are drastically changed or beefed up, it’s not necessary.

    Note I’m marking the difference between EP and demos. With the latter it’s fine since you would obviously need to record better versions of your demo songs to sell.

    • Dr. Dubz

      I’d prefer EPs be entirely different tracks if it’s coming before the album.

  • Pingback: Anatomy of an Album: The Nuts and Bolts | What makes an album great? | Reddit Spy()

  • Max

    Yes, I have to say I agree with all of W’s criteria so far.

    I’d really love to think that one day I could hear a double album that is 90 minutes in length which is a compelling listen from start to finish (despite actually being a “double LP” that has twice the number of songs a normal LP would, instead of just some doom metal record that has really long songs; that doesn’t count).

    But off the top of my head, I can’t think of any great ones beside Rollins Band’s The End of Silence, which was fucking epic. The last one I bought was Baroness’s Yellow and Green, and frankly, I could’ve done entirely without Green and a fair bit of Yellow. (The ironic thing, too, is that I’ve got the double-CD format. Each disc has slightly less than 40 minutes on it; so technically they could’ve fit it all on one.) Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation is another well-regarded double album which I always thought had a lot of padding.

    Having said all that, I’m currently jamming Izah’s Sistere, which has four songs over 70 minutes (the fourth is 30 minutes long!). It doesn’t technically qualify as a double-LP, but I need to mention it because it’s fucking great and might even end up my album of the year. For such a long-form record in a genre I hardly ever bother with, it is an astonishingly easy listen.

    • Dr. Dubz

      That Izah album is great! As I mentioned elsewhere, I really enjoyed The Ocean’s Precambrian. The CD pressing actually has the second disc’s content only filling up a portion of the Cd, so the rest of the CD is actually just a cool clear design.

      http://www.theocean.fr/wp-content/gallery/precambrian_digi/img_8873.jpg

      • Max

        Now that is a cool idea.

        Reminds me of when I got the Dinosaur Jr Just Like Heaven EP way back when. Side B had no music; it was just an illustration etched into the vinyl.

        • Dr. Dubz

          I can get behind that. Makes it feel a little more special to own the physical media. I actually purchased Cloak of Altering’s Plague Beasts album on CD because it came with a free booklet of Mories’ illustrations.

        • I want dat.

          • Max

            If I still had it I’d gladly send it to you, Joseph. But I parted with that one a long, long time ago.

            Truth be told it wasn’t that great. There were only 3 songs on the playable side.

            In turn it reminds me of the Sonic Youth self-titled cassette EP I had where there were five songs on Side A, and then Side B was just the entire program again run backwards. The songs were way more evil and sinister-sounding like that. Actually, that one I do still have.

  • Would anyone hate me if I suggested that if you trimmed Load and Reload and combined them into just one album, that it’d actually be a really good, summer rock album?

    • Dr. Dubz

      Nope. Joe and I have talked about that, actually.

    • If you trimmed all the sound away and just left the spaces between songs it would KILL.

      (Ugh, that was too easy. I detest myself.)

  • Hotdog Clifford
  • dr.derelict

    The Satanist has a killer introduction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfa9z8qXkgQ

  • Lacertilian

    Great post @disqus_kqxyUNPxty:disqus.
    While I agree with the EP part (for me Teratogenesis was perfect), sometimes it helps us listeners gauge the quality of a band if they release an LP and it has a certain % of shittier filler-ish tracks. I’m not sure if I can describe my point clearly here. I’m going to give up.