Rating music is obviously subjective, and if you don’t like one artist in particular, well, there are several hundreds of thousands of others  out there to help sooth the pain. Everybody’s heard someone gush about a band who you just could not fathom, and wondered what the big deal was. I’ve even gone back and listened to bands again, at points willing myself to try to like them, until realising that’s a stupid thing to even try. Whilst opinions can change with time (for me this includes Mastodon, Kill ‘em All, Lamb of God, The Smiths, Converge, Megadeth and As I Lay Dying) (actually, no, I still don’t like As I Lay Dying) (well, sometimes), and disliked artists can be appreciated as technical listening exercises (but probably more so from a musician’s point of view) somebody telling you why you should like an artist, even in a totally benign way, generally doesn’t work. Nevertheless, there remains a lingering curiosity in my heart, mind and ears, to just try to figure out why some bands are praised when everybody’s got it all wrong, and actually there’s this other band you should check out instead.
This, combined with Invisible Oranges’ Head Shots and Deciblog’s Disposable Heroes columns, got me thinking, damn, I wish I had that idea first. Mixed in with my ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ treatment of Torchrunner’s Endless Nothing, I decided that, as is the fate of all great art, I’m going to steal it. I would normally try to be a bit more original than this, but there are just a few too many bands who present this curious itch for me, needing to be scratched into a bloody gouge of satisfaction.
I’m going to listen to an album by an artist that somebody has spilt superlative–ridden digital (or real) ink, or spittle, upon, and see just what all the fuss is about. Rest assured, I will be doing a bit of research beforehand to avoid the token duds, unlike the time I wasted 90p borrowing The System Has Failed from the library, then spent several years thinking Megadeth were rubbish. I will then spend the next few weeks listening to whatever record it may be, digging into it, and if it grows on me, I’ll buy it, it spends the rest of eternity in music Valhalla, and I’ll make a note to listen to that artist’s other albums. I did consider listening to entire backlists, but sooner or later I’m going to run out of money. However, this does mean I’ll spend longer with each album, and dig into it a lot more.
I’m going to focus on artist who are established and critically–praised in the heavy metal press, as anyone can give a kicking to the newly popular band of the moment. I also think that the critical and commercial standing of a band takes a little time to figure out; there will always be a couple of up–and–coming bands who everyone but me seems to love (oh well), but whilst some of their coverage turns out to be hype (and history suggests it will), it’s also possible that I may come round to liking them.
First up is Gridlink. I mean, have you tried listening to Longhena?
 (Spotify’s website says it holds 30 million songs. That’s without Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Youtube).