As in lighter prog rock in this case, or death vs. death, power vs. power, black vs. black. But in many cases the pairings have been even closer than just the genre, which makes the decisions more interesting.
The VDGG song is a bit much, even for a proggy guy like me. I can see where Dream Theater gets some of their more musically masturbatory tendencies from after hearing this. There's some interesting sections sprinkled throughout, but it's a little too much "wow factor" and not enough groove.
I've never been a huge Pink Floyd fan, as I've thought their most popular albums are largely overrated. However, I love Animals - and by Animals, I mean Dogs and Pigs (Sheep never did much for me). These two songs are so tasteful and well-executed; I want to start them over as soon as they're finished. I slightly prefer Pigs to Dogs (in real life, too), but in this case it's no contest. Dogs is an actual song, as opposed to the mish-mash of ideas of the VDGG piece.
Man, these two songs were such a drag to get through. Dogs has the advantage of being Pink Floyd, having normal vocals, and a solid melancholic atmosphere. VDGG was just way too silly and the vocals were all over the place.
One Rode To Asa Bay was my introduction to Bathory some 30 years ago, and Bathory got me into the emerging Norwegian Black Metal scene in the early 90s, and that, in turn, has certainly influenced my life since, so even though the Sulphur Aeon track is a very decent one (Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn), it's no contest.
This Bathory song is raw and amateurish, and it’s a bit too repetitive and meandering; but you can feel the passion in the flawed vocals and their memorable descending melody, and that almost does enough to redeem the track.
This Sulphur Aeon song has much more interesting music and songwriting, with loads of atmosphere, thickly layered guitar harmonies, and a more complex musical journey. Unfortunately, it also has pointlessly spastic drumming all over the place, as well as predictably awful death vocals.
Both tracks have deep flaws, and given my established preferences you might think this would be an easy choice for me, but it’s not. Do I reward a rough, repetitive draft of a song that has a kernel of something compelling in it, or do I go for a much better composed song with frequent moments of distracting nonsense and a skid mark of extreme vocals running through the entire thing? Strangely enough, this time I find the scales tipping in the direction of the dark horse contender.
Sorry, @Dityn DJ James, but forced to choose, I think I would rather listen to @Perun ’s nominee a second time. Winner: Sulphur Aeon
I'm sorry, I know all about the classicness and untouchability of Bathory, but I genuinely enjoyed Sulphur Aeon more and by listening to random other stuff, I think I'd like them more in general. Not quite sure why (maybe the modern production is more acceptable to me, maybe they feel more proggy?) but I'm voting for them.
If you exclude the shitty production and amaterish singing/playing, Bathory's song is way better and more memorable. Sulphur Aeon is better in every other way, so it was a tough choice... Went with Bathory in the end.
This Pink Floyd song is pleasant enough from moment to moment, but it’s at least twice as long as it has any right to be, and I was frequently checking the clock by the time it got to the dolphin call guitar interlude in the middle. I feel like these Floyd epics require you to either be massively stoned or have them playing in the background while you do something more stimulating in order to actually appreciate them.
This Steven Wilson song has a lot more meat on its bones with less than half the running time of its opponent. I really like the jazzy feel of the musical interludes that alternate back and forth with the proggier vocal sections, and the song structure takes a few chances without wearing out its welcome. I do find it interesting that someone who is so vocal about their disdain for wanky guitar solos seems to be perfectly content to include wanky solos from every other instrument under the sun — but hey, we’re all hypocrites on some topic. Personally I don’t mind wankery as long as it serves a valid musical purpose within the song, and the sax and synth solos here certainly do that.
This one’s an easy call — sorry, @Brigantium, but I have to go with @Wogmidget ’s nominee here. Winner: Steven Wilson
First 10ish minutes of Echoes are truly amazing, but then it just fizzles out with random guitar noodling, wind howling etc. The return at the end is cool though. The Holy Drinker sounds like Heritage with better production but shittier vocals. So Echoes it is.
Why is the cover photo of Profile so crisp and clear? It's a solo album for Jan, so it should have been out of Focus.
The Jan Akkerman track sounds like improvised noise-rock. The kind of music that's enjoyable to people who like free jazz while the rest of us wait for some semblance of structure or even (H forbid) a chorus. Reminds me of some of Zappa's long jazz jams, except less interesting. The best guitar parts reminded me of what Steve Howe was doing around the same time (1972). But it doesn't sound like a composed work, like a true epic. A track becoming long because the musicians sound too stoned to stop playing after three minutes isn't an epic.
Who says nuclear bombs are a bad thing, when the fear of nuclear war gave us classic songs like Ozzy's "Killer of Giants" and Nena's "99 Luftballons" and Prince's "1999" and "Domino"? Modern artists who try to recapture 80s sounds and call it "retro" always miss the casual existential terror that permeated the 80s. Kids today haven't earned their right to use an 808 until they've watched The Day After.
This Genesis track is one of my favorites of theirs from the 80s — the warm, catchy ballad with subversively dark undercurrents that eventually curdles into a heavy, despairing nightmare. Great dynamics and melodies, a great epic build-up in part 2, a nice callback to part 1, and a rousing vocal finale. The song goes on a meaningful, cohesive journey without wearing out its welcome.
This Jan Akkerman track has a number of legitimately cool parts to it (the dynamic sections at the beginning and about halfway through, the harmonized synths about 3/4 of the way through, and several of the aggressive jazzy sections throughout), but it definitely comes off more like an extended jam session than any kind of cohesive song, and it veers off into pure musical masturbation more often than not. It feels like the sort of thing that would be used as the soundtrack for a movie set in the 70s during a drug trip montage.
Not a hard choice, even if there weren’t any own-nominee bias in play. Sorry, @Forostar, but I’m sticking with my own choice here. Winner: Genesis
Nonetheless, this album is part of the reason why Akkerman was chosen by his peers(!) as best guitarist of the world, around this time. Having said this, I do like Genesis (some work of theirs a lot!), so I will play both and make my choice.