Welcome back, my friends, to the Arsies! After last year's epic double tournament, we're going back to basics in this, the tournament's seventh year.
If you're new to the Arsies, here's how we do it. Arranged around the bracket are the best of the best, the most promising metal albums released over the past 12 months. Over the course of the next several weeks, those albums will face off in daily battle. During each match, we'll listen to those two albums, to determine which is superior. Using sudden death rules, we'll arrive at an ultimate winner. Behind the smoke and mirrors, it just comes down to subjective choice. But at least it'll be logical, after a fashion.
As in all other years, I've tasked myself with the job of culling the herd and finding the initial contenders. I've limited myself to streaming sources, with entirely new music releases of at least 20 minutes in length. I got around to sampling 128 albums -- a 48% decrease over my previous sisyphean work of the year prior. Why the reduction?
If we're being honest, 2015 was a fairly lackluster year for metal. We started the year with high anticipation for a number of tried and true metal groups (BTBAM! BDM! Cattle Decap! Ugly Kid Joe!), as well as the theoretically eye-popping returns of Faith No More and Refused. What we got instead was retreads and lateral moves. And as a matter of fact, I almost didn't go through with the Arsies at all this time around. Still, those that made it into the tournament are collectively bringing some of their best, their most interesting, and heaviest work to the fray. This should at least be interesting. (As always, I don't really know how the individual grudge matches are going to go.)
With that ringing endorsement out of the way, we'll get started on Monday, January 4th, with prog legends BTBAM and power metal stalwarts Kamelot.