Washington Think Tank with W.: What’s the perfect song length?


Greetings, toileteers! It’s been a minute since I wrote a Think Tank post. Much has transpired in the previous weeks, but I shan’t bore you with the details. All that matters now is that my loins once again burn with what I assume (and desperately hope) are intriguing queries into the very fiber of this genre we love. So put your thinking caps back on, my brainy constituents, because I need some answers.

Today’s Question: What’s the perfect song length?

Metal is certainly no stranger to extremes, especially in song-length. From Napalm Death‘s three-second stunner “You Suffer” to Inter Arma‘s recent 46-minute opus “The Cavern,” our favorite genre is certainly home to a wide array of song lengths. However, is every length of song appropriate for every genre? Should thrash metal bands write 14-minute scorchers? Should technical death metal bands play three-minute anthems? Does it even matter? The Masterlord contends that it does, and it is on his behalf that I present this question. What’s the perfect song length for your favorite genre? Below I present some of my preferences and songs to illustrate those tastes, but you probably think I’m a cotton-headed ninnymuggins who should stick to painting pictures of dogs in bath tubs or something. So, after you peruse my selections, let me know what you think!

Exhibit A: Grindcore – 2:00 to 4:00 minutes. As much as I love the short bursts of insanity, I think bands like Napalm Death and Pig Destroyer can really inject a substantial amount of style and innovation into the grind framework with a slightly longer running time.

Exhibit B: Death Metal – 4:00 to 6:00 minutes. I think five minutes is just about the perfect length for a death metal band to get its point across without sounding too redundant. Short, but not too short, this running time allows for tasteful riffs, solos, and blasts aplenty without wearing out its welcome.

Exhibit C: Black Metal – 5:00 to 7:00 minutes. I think a lot of black metal bands, in attempting to craft a suitably epic soundscape, need slightly more time to devote to the atmosphere. This longer amount allows for the true feeling and scope of black metal fury to be realized.

Exhibit D: Doom Metal – 10:00+ minutes. Doom metal bands should play in long form. The mesmerizing riffs and crushing caveman drums are just begging to have room to breathe, and the impact can be lessened when the song is shortened.

These are just my preferences, and I’ve certainly left out a copious number of genres/subgenres, but I’ve given you enough material with which to work. I should also probably mention that diversity is the spice of life, so a drastic change in song length can really add that extra oomph to an album. But  now it’s your turn. What’s the perfect length for a metal song? What are some great examples in your favorite subgenres of bands who have nailed that perfect length? Sound off in the comments below.

Big thanks to the Masterlord for this idea.

P.S. Do you have an idea for Think Tank? Send it to toiletovhell@gmail.com! I’d love to collaborate.

Don’t know what the Washington Think Tank is? This is a regular column where your former President poses a pressing question and allows the top minds at the Toilet ov Hell to investigate his query.

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